Sahel : a summit with Emmanuel Macron to give in to force anti-jihadist

Emmanuel Macron talks Sunday with the heads of State of five countries of the Sahel in Bamako in order to realize a common project for the fight against jihadist groups in the region. Arrived in the night from Saturday to Sunday, the president of the Republic, has joined its malian counterpart Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, president of the G5 Sahel. Saturday, the man of State had already hosted the leaders of the other countries of the G5 : Idriss Déby Itno (Chad), Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz (Mauritania), Roch Marc Christian Kaboré (Burkina Faso) and Mahamadou Issoufou (Niger).

Their stated goal is the struggle, together, against the jihadist attacks that target the Mali and earn the neighbouring States, may prosecute across borders, with a start-up on the field before the end of the year. The jihadists also engage in hostage-taking. The branch of Al-Qaeda in Mali has issued Saturday, on the eve of the summit of the G5, a video showing six prisoners foreigners kidnapped in the Sahel between 2011 and 2017 : a French, Sophie Pétronin, a Colombian, a South African, a Romanian, a Swiss and an Australian.

Sunday, Emmanuel Macron promised to help the countries of the G5 Sahel to obtain funding for their joint force, but urged them to demonstrate the effectiveness of the face of the jihadists. “It will be up to you and your armies to convince them that the G5 can be effective, in the respect of conventions of humanitarian aid. The results should be waiting for you to convince our partners, ” said the French president at the opening of the summit of the G5 Sahel in the country’s capital. Ahead of its african counterparts, the French welcomed ” a dynamic, a motion background that France is proud to accompany “.

Objective : 5 000 men in a first time

Deployed in a first time the borders of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, the strength of the G5 will be added to the French operation Barkhane who is tracking the jihadists in the Sahel and the UN mission in Mali (Minusma). The idea of a regional force, backed by Paris, had been re-launched on 6 February at a summit in Bamako. It should start with about 5 000 men provided by the five countries, who aim to double this figure to term.

The summit of Sunday is to concretely define his terms, and the French president is expected to announce a support, especially in equipment, according to the Elysée. “The post of command of this force will be based in the centre of Mali, Sévaré,” said the general Didier Dacko, chief of staff of the malian army before being named in June to head the force of the G5. The european Union has pledged 50 million euros, but such strength requires at least 400 million euros, according to experts. The budget is expected to be approximately 500 million euros, said the Agency France-Presse, a source in the delegation of mauritania.

A commitment to Germany ?

France, itself in full pursuit of economies due to fiscal deficit worsened, hope the support of other countries of the european Union, arguing that its military engagement in the Sahel, protects the whole of Europe. It relies in particular on Germany, the netherlands and Belgium, and also hopes to get a “concrete support” of the United States has a military presence with drones based in Niger, said the Elysée. On the side of the five heads of State of the Sahel, the expectation is high.

In a commentary for the French daily Le Figaro of Friday, co-signed with Federica Mogherini, the high representative of the european Union, they argue that ” the vacuum in the Sahel is the oxygen of terrorism “, claiming as a result of ” a renewed commitment and a concentration of the efforts of the european Union and the international community to achieve concrete impacts. On 21 June, the security Council of the UN adopted a resolution which “welcomed” the deployment of this force, but not grant him neither a mandate nor the funds. With Emmanuel Macron, the G5 Sahel should, therefore, launch an appeal for international contributions. The financial question is all the more sensitive that the president of chad, whose country is already engaged in the Minusma, and in the multinational force against the nigerian islamist group Boko Haram, has threatened to pull out of this project for budgetary reasons.

Mali in a state of constant urgency

To complete the military side, the actors of the Justice of the 5 met this week in Bamako to implement a cooperation agreement signed in may, between Niger, Chad and Mali. The Mali is under a state of emergency almost continuously since the bombing jihadist against the hotel Radisson Blu Bamako on November 20, 2015, which killed 20 people, in addition to its two authors. On the 18th of June, a resort area close to Bamako, founded by a Frenchman, has been attacked, five dead, plus the four attackers killed.

Northern Mali had fallen in march-April 2012 under the thumb of jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda. They have been largely driven out by an international military intervention launched in 2013 at the initiative of France. But entire areas are beyond the control of the malian armed forces, the French and the UN, regularly referred to by attacks, despite the signing in may-June 2015 of a peace agreement supposed to isolate definitively the jihadists. Since 2015, these attacks are extended to the centre and to the south and the phenomenon wins the neighbouring countries.

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