West African States launch new military force with France's help

On Sunday 2 July, the countries of the Sahel region - Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad - launched a joint international military force to fight Islamist militant groups in the Sahel. This initiative will be financially supported by France and other European Union (EU) states.

Islamist militant groups are still active in the Sahel region and are attacking Malian soldiers, peacekeeping mission units and civilians. It is precisely the attacks of Islamists which are to be prevented by the newly formed military force with 5,000 soldiers, supposed to be ready in the fall of 2017. Its area of influence will be in three zones - along the Niger-Mali border, along the Mali-Mauritania border and on the triangle of borders between Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. The unit's budget will be approximately €423 million, with €50 million provided by the EU, and France will contribute €8 million by the end of 2017. In the long run, the creation of these units could speed up the stabilization of the region and also help the UN MINUSMA mission active in the region. The stabilization of the region and strengthening its security is crucial to the current military action against the Islamic State in order to limit the influx of Islamic radicals into the region. On the other hand, experts warn that a purely military intervention cannot stabilize the situation and it is necessary to examine the causes of conflict, especially in Mali, and strengthen the people's confidence in the state apparatus.

About author: Jan Merička

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