France is increasingly losing its influence in the Sahel, due to both the failure of the Barkhane operation, and the growing anti-French sentiment fostered by the Russian disinformation campaign. Mali could set a precedent for other Sahel countries, encouraging them to distance themselves from France. It would thus threaten France’s position as a key actor in the region.
Key Judgement 1: It is highly unlikely that, after the Barkhane failure, a military-based strategy will work in the Sahel in the next 12 months. France is thus likely to shift towards a less military-based, and more locally focused strategy.
Key Judgement 2: It is likely that, in the upcoming year, the Russian disinformation campaign will aggravate the anti-French resentment in the Sahel. As a result, the region would increasingly become an arena of proxy wars.
Key Judgement 3: It is likely that Sahel countries will follow Mali’s path and distance themselves from France. It would significantly weaken French influence in the region in the next 12 months.