How does the French withdrawal from Mali affect Libya?

Experts who spoke to “Sky News Arabia” believe that terrorist groups, whether in the desert of Libya, which they described as “the most dangerous”, or in Mali, are standing on tiptoe to exploit any crisis, conflict or vacuum that erupts to increase their spread and expand their influence.

On Thursday, France announced the withdrawal of its forces from Mali and the concentration of its presence in neighboring countries such as Niger, after the deterioration of its dispute with Bamako, which emerged after the military coup in Mali last May, and the continued spread of terrorism in the country despite the passage of 9 years of the French presence there.

The most dangerous desert

Libyan political analyst Ibrahim Al-Fitouri warns that terrorist groups are still largely present in the Libyan desert to the south, and are motivated to exploit any crisis that erupts in the region to expand and confuse the situation.

Although there is no direct border between Libya and Mali, the French military presence in Mali limited the movement of these groups even slightly from country to country to Libya, or in the opposite direction, according to Al-Fitouri.

Al-Fitouri downplayed the possibility of the Russian “Wagner” to compensate for the absence of the French army, especially since it is in the end a security company that does not have the capabilities of the army.

The Libyan military analyst, Taha al-Bashir, recalls the experiences and lessons of the sudden withdrawals that took place in the past, such as the withdrawal of the US army from Afghanistan and the subsequent leap by the Taliban movement to the throne; This can be repeated in Mali, where regions are teeming with terrorist movements waiting for the opportunity.

The struggle for international influence

In the estimation of Al-Bashir, the French military presence also has its downsides, in that the armies of the Sahel and Saharan countries in which it was stationed became lethargic; Because it relied heavily on French power for 9 years; It is an additional risk indicator; Because suddenly it will find itself in a confrontation with terrorist groups that need expertise and high capabilities.

He points out that several regional and European countries have warned that terrorist groups have been monitoring movements inside Libya aimed at creating a new wave of terrorism in North Africa and the West African coast.

Another matter that may increase the burdens on the Sahel and Sahara region, which is the struggle for influence between European countries and the United States on one side, and Russia on the other, which appeared in the deterioration of relations between France and Mali, and the possibility of the latter using the Russian “Wagner” company as one of its reasons.

In this direction, the Libyan analyst says: It may replace the anti-terror war with an international political conflict in this country, giving a greater chance for the recovery of terrorist groups to penetrate and control.

And the Mediterranean Security Observatory of the Institute for Intelligence Culture and Strategic Analysis (ICSA) warned that ignoring terrorist groups and their movements may contribute to more chaos, and that the Mediterranean countries are not safe from this either.

Leonardo Tricarico, Central Director of the Prevention Police of the Italian Ministry of the Interior, said in a statement included in the report that between January 2018 and May 2019 ISIS carried out massive terrorist operations in several regions, although this time is the least active time for the organization, which indicates that ISIS is indeed capable of Attacking targets and this data prompts not to let go of caution.

And warnings were issued from Britain, China and Russia that ISIS might take Libya as a starting point for its spread, especially since southern Libya suffers from security fragility due to its vast area, its desert nature, the continuous arming ban on the Libyan army, and the weak control over the common borders with Chad, Sudan and Niger.

The Libyan National Army is waging extensive military operations and security campaigns to impose control there; During the past two years, he was able to arrest dozens of terrorists and eliminate several terrorist outposts.

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