Desert War – Islamists in the Sahara

NDR/ARTE, 2015, 52 min.

In January 2013, 2500 French troops marched into Mali to prevent the impending conquest of the West African country by Islamic forces. Within a few weeks, the French army had taken military control of the country.

There can be no talk of a temporary intervention, however, as was allegedly originally intended. The contingent of French soldiers in the region has increased to 3000 in the meantime, including numerous special forces and soldiers who already have experience fighting in Afghanistan, making this one of the biggest operations of the French army since World War II. In addition, the German armed forces have meanwhile sent a contingent of 150 soldiers to Mali as part of the EUTM (European Training Mission), and the same is true of numerous other European countries.

What is the background to this intervention? Is it really simply a matter of preventing the West African nation from being infiltrated by Al Qaida & Co.? Are the Europeans embarking on the next conflict entailing heavy losses, after Iraq and Afghanistan? What do the people of Mali make of the numerous troops in their country? These are some of the questions examined by Michael Richter in the film “Desert War”.

Director: Michael Richter
Camera: Felix Korfmann, Ralf Klingelhöfer
Film editor: Silke Olthoff
Production: Sandra Šamec
Producer: Nadja Frenz
Editorial: Kathrin Bronnert
Executive producers: Sandra Maischberger, Matthias Martens
Commissioning editor: Ulrike Dotzer (NDR/arte)