Operation Barkhane: the risks of an enemy-centric approach
Meulen, M.A. van der
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In August 2014, France authorised Operation Barkhane, aimed to ‘fight the cross-border terrorist threat’ in the Sahel, alongside the Sahelian armies. Six years later, instability has spread throughout the Sahel, while Operation Barkhane has increased its troops from 3,000 up to 5,100. This raises the question of what kind of counterinsurgency strategy Barkhane pursues in the Sahel. By using the analytical framework of ‘counterinsurgency’, this thesis analyses Operation Barkhane’s counterinsurgency and concludes that it is enemy-centric in nature. The thesis shows the complications of Operation Barkhane’s enemy-centric counterinsurgency strategy by using Barkhane’s operations in Burkina Faso as a case study. The case of Burkina Faso highlights the problematic preoccupation with the military aspect which decontextualises the ‘enemy’, focuses on the symptoms of the Sahelian crisis instead of on the root causes, and renders cooperation with the Sahelian governments unproblematic.