On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron called on the new Biden administration to increase US military involvement in Africa and the Middle East, specifically in Iraq and Syria.
Macron said, “I am certain that in the coming weeks, the new administration will need to make key decisions that will mark a greater commitment and awareness in the fight against terrorism” in Iraq and Syria.
France is part of the international anti-ISIS coalition that operates in Iraq and Syria. The French are also bogged down in Mali, where they have been fighting Islamic militants since 2013.
Eight years into the Mali campaign, France appears to be seeking an exit strategy. There are currently about 5,100 French soldiers in Africa’s Sahel region. In his speech, Macron hinted at a possible troop drawdown, an announcement he is expected to make next month.
Earlier reports said France is expected to bring about 600 soldiers out of Mali. Some analysts suspect a French drawdown from the region could result in US forces filling the void.
France has previously discouraged the US from withdrawing its forces from decades-old conflicts. November 2020, when the Trump administration was announcing troop drawdowns, France’s foreign minister made it clear to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Paris opposed US withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq.