The United States plans to significantly reduce its military presence in West Africa, or even completely withdraw its troops involved in the fight against terrorism, reports on Tuesday New york times, citing US officials.
According to the New York daily, the issue is currently being discussed internally at the Department of Defense as part of a general redeployment of US troops, and no decision will be made until January. Asked by Agence France-Presse about this information, the Pentagon did not immediately follow up.
Defense Minister Mark Esper wants to review the American system around the world by withdrawing from its counter-terrorism missions to better focus on its two priorities, China and Russia.
Between 6,000 and 7,000 soldiers present
The first step in this reduction in external operations would concern Africa, where the United States has between 6,000 and 7,000 soldiers in the west of the continent but also in the east, especially in Somalia.
An American withdrawal from West Africa would be a major blow to the French forces who are fighting jihadist groups in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, notes the New york times. Washington’s support for these operations, including intelligence and logistics, costs the Pentagon about $ 45 million each year, adds the New york times.
The French and the Sahel countries are currently facing a surge in jihadist violence that resulted in the death of 71 Nigerien soldiers during the attack on Inates camp on December 10. A few days earlier, 13 French soldiers had died in a helicopter accident in Mali, in a combat zone.
President Donald Trump had promised in his 2016 campaign to end the "Endless wars". He has already announced a significant reduction in the number of American soldiers deployed in Syria and intends to do the same in Afghanistan, where the United States has been militarily engaged for almost twenty years.