Tuesday, February 23, 2021

FRENCH ARMY IN THE SAHEL: A presence still necessary?


The N’Djamena summit, which ended yesterday Tuesday in N’Djamena, relaunches the debate on the need for a French military presence in the Sahel. Opinions remain contradictory.

Seven years after Barkhane’s first operations in the Sahel, the 7th Ordinary session of the Conference of Heads of State of the G5 Sahel in N’Djamena on February 15 and 16, 2021, resolved a stronger commitment from the G5 countries and their allies, whose presence is debated.

A year after the Pau summit, which had defined a new strategy which consisted in concentrating military efforts in the area of ​​the three borders, in particular in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali, and seven months after that of Nouakchott, the Chiefs of State of five G5 Sahel countries took stock of the security situation in the region.

Without detour, Paris wants the member countries of the G5 Sahel to quickly materialize their “re-engagement”, both military and political, so that local armies can gain ground in the fight against terrorism. According to experts, the impact of a possible withdrawal of the French army must be measured.

“We must link the French withdrawal with the rise of the G5 Sahel force. This force has already started to work because there is a central zone in particular on the zone of the three borders. An Eastern zone which brings together Niger and Chad. However, the force does not have the operational capacity and actions that would have enabled it to take Barkhane’s place ”, says Seidik Abba, journalist and writer, specialist in the Sahel.

In the final press release of the 7th session, the Heads of State noted an improvement in the security situation in the G5 Sahel countries. They believe that this improvement reflects the determination of the Defense and Security Forces (FDS) engaged in the field as well as the growing resilience of the populations in the face of the terrorist threat. It should be noted that Chad announces the dispatch of 1,200 soldiers to the three border zone.

“The Heads of State welcomed the gradual maturation of the G5 Sahel Joint Force and welcomed the operational successes recorded in recent months, in particular following large-scale operations carried out in coordination with the SDFs of the G5 member countries. Sahel and partner forces in the East (AMANE2 / OBANNA1-2-3), West (DAREA + Planning of a large-scale operation) and Center (PAGNALI 2-3 / SAMPARGA 3 / SAMA 1 zones) ”, the statement read.

The Heads of State also decided to hold their next ordinary summit in February 2022, in Bamako, in the Republic of Mali. Until then, let’s hope the ground will be cleared.

Andiè A. DARA

Source: Bamakonews





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