“When things fall apart: France’s withdrawal from Mali”, Nina Wilén (Egmont, Belgium)

When things fall apart you usually take a step back to look at what went wrong and to learn from past mistakes. Or, as in the case with France in the Sahel, you take a step back and then you move south to new partner states who are willing to host your troops.

While this is a provocative and simplified reflection on the French President’s announcement of Barkhane’s withdrawal from Mali, it still mirrors what seems to be a missed opportunity for a deeply needed “lessons learned” moment. Three lessons in particular seem to be of importance: First, it is central to have a feasible strategy and a clear objective. Second, communicating that strategy effectively is essential to get popular support at home and abroad. Third, if you decide to engage and collaborate with leaders who have come to power by bending or ignoring the rules, chances are that they will not respect your strategy.

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