How Macron is waging his secret wars

INVESTIGATION – Since his election, the President has launched increasingly offensive military operations and authorizes serial “neutralizations”. Our collaborator Vincent Nouzille investigated this top secret facet of presidential action.

By Vincent Nouzille

Emmanuel Macron, May 14, 2019, during the tribute ceremony to the two special forces soldiers who died on May 10 during an operation in Burkina Faso.
Emmanuel Macron, May 14, 2019, during the tribute ceremony to the two special forces soldiers who died on May 10 during an operation in Burkina Faso. Jacques Witt / SIPA

It was a summery, but chilling defense council. On August 11, 2020, from Fort Brégançon, President Emmanuel Macron meets by videoconference with his Prime Minister Jean Castex, the royal ministers, the chief of staff of the armed forces and the bosses of the intelligence services. The agenda is serious, mourning the murder, on August 9, of eight people, two Nigerians and six French members of the NGO Acted, in the Kouré reserve, near Niamey, in Niger. A real massacre committed by men arriving on motorcycles.

Until now, this area still seemed protected from repeated attacks by jihadist groups who have spread their guerrillas in several countries of the Sahel. The 5,100 French soldiers of Operation Barkhane have increased for six months the lightning operations aimed at weakening the two main rival nebulae, the GSIM (Support Group for Islam and Muslims), linked to al-Qaida, and the EIGS (Islamic State in the Great Sahara), affiliated with Daesh, in particular

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a fortress inspired by the military genius of Vauban to stop Islamist terrorism

SEEN FROM ELSEWHERE – On the border with Niger, France has built an outpost considered impregnable.

By LENA

Labbezanga, where an outpost considered impregnable has been built, is located 200 kilometers from the Gao military base, where more than 5,000 soldiers from Operation “Barkhane” are deployed.
Labbezanga, where an outpost considered impregnable has been built, is located 200 kilometers from the Gao military base, where more than 5,000 soldiers from Operation “Barkhane” are deployed. BENOIT TESSIER / REUTERS

Par Pietro Del Re, correspondant to Bamako (The Republic)

To defend the village of Labbezanga, located on the border between Mali and Niger, from jihadist offensives, the French have just built an outpost considered impregnable. To do this, they were inspired by the fortifications built by their ancestors during the Renaissance period, including the Citadel of Besançon, the Tour Vauban (initially Tour de Camaret) or the Fort Carré d’Antibes, buildings which are all listed UNESCO World Heritage Site and were all built by France’s most famous military engineer, the Marquis Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban. In Labbezanga, this return to the past has a specific objective: to resist the Islamist phalanges in a portion of the desert where militiamen affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State swarm, an area located 200 kilometers from the Gao military base, where the more than 5000 soldiers of Operation “Barkhane”, sent by Paris are deployed

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In the Sahel, fear of the return of child soldiers

DECRYPTION – Operation Barkhane is concerned about the recruitment of minors by terrorist groups.

A French army soldier patrols in northern Burkina Faso last November during Operation Barkhane.
A French army soldier patrols in northern Burkina Faso last November during Operation Barkhane. MICHELE CATTANI / AFP

Operation Barkhane’s latest offensive against terrorist groups in the Sahel has borne fruit, but a long-term threat looms. The Islamic State in the Grand Sahara, designated as the main enemy since January, suffered severe losses, according to the French general staff. “Its human and material capacities have been greatly reduced”, welcomed General Facon, commander of the Barkhane force, Thursday, during an exchange with the press. But “The enemy has hardened. He no longer hesitates to resort to child soldiers. The latter are indoctrinated and trained in the handling of weapons ”, he warned.

“This abject exploitation puts us in difficulty”, agreed General Facon. Child soldiers are nothing new. In 2013 already, al-Qaida was pushing young recruits on the Sahelian terrain. Their presence in the terrorist ranks, intended to divert the vigilance of the soldiers or to serve as a fact of human shield, constitutes a challenge for the Western armies. Each

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