France to reinforce its military weight in Sahel

On 6 April, during on a two-day trip in Sahel, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced his country will launch a long-term security strategy that involves the G5 Sahel countries - Mali, Mauritania, Chad, Burkina Faso and Niger – and includes the creation of a 5,000-strong multinational force to combat Islamist fighters in the area. The UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA is also ongoing in Mali as well as military training mission EUTM of EU.

France has already provided equipment and training to the former colonies while setting up mixed patrols along borders and bringing 4,000 soldiers to the region in the so-called Operation Barkhane. Ayrault’s announcement introduces the second phase to reinforce Barkhane that includes training specialised groups in anti-terror operations and fighting “all sorts of trafficking that is wreaking havoc in the region”. A French diplomatic source added that the African Union will approve the mission and the European Union will support it financially. France maintains deep diplomatic, political and economic ties with the region, which has recently led to military interventions after various jihadist attacks, a trend now likely to continue with European backing. 

About author: Giorgio Sirtori

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