The Sahel countries and France will meet in Nouakchott on Tuesday to find out their fight against the jihadists, six months after deciding to intensify the joint effort to recover the lost ground in the region.
Emmanuel Macron and the heads of state in Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad meet, Tuesday, June 30, in Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital, six months after the promises exchanged in Pau. French President and President of the Spanish Government Pedro Sanchez makes his first trip to Africa since the Crona virus crisis in connection with this G5 Sahel Summit.
On January 13, the Pau summit was organized following a series of setbacks by the region’s armies against the jihadists, the death of 13 French soldiers in operation and the questioning of the French intervention. The heads of state of G5 Sahelet, the French ally, then decided to focus their actions on the Islamic State in the “three-border zone” (Mali, Burkina, Niger), jointly led by the French force Barkhane and the G5 Sahel anti-jihadist force.
France, its African partners, as well as the heads of government from Germany, Spain and Italy who will attend the meeting through videoconferencing, should therefore find out about the development of the situation in the region and the commitments made in January.
Over the past six months, France has increased Barkhane’s strength from 500 soldiers to 5,100. Barkhane and his partners have since diversified the offensive in the three-border area, claiming the “neutralization” of hundreds of jihadists. According to the Élysée Palace, Nouakchott will open a “consolidation period” in this region.
They will probably welcome the successes recorded during this period, including the neutralization of Al-Qaeda’s head of the Islamic Maghreb (Aqmi), Algerian Abdelmalek Droukdal, killed in northern Mali, the French special forces in early June.
G5 Sahel Summit: “In addition to tactical and symbolic victories, the situation on the ground worsens”
A region that remains very unstable
“We need to see how these commitments were made in January are part of a form of continuum”, analysis for France 24Jérôme Pigné, researcher at the Thomas More Institute, who also believes that progress in security remains fragile. “In addition to these tactical, operational and symbolic victories, the situation on the ground is deteriorating,” the researcher continues. “The abuses committed on the ground by certain defense forces in the subregion’s counterbalanced military efforts, drive terrorist propaganda and allow them to recruit on the ground.”
Paris is also concerned about the mixed actions of Burkina Faso and Mali in favor of peace. Both countries are said to have surrendered their commitments due to the 2020 election deadlines. In Burkina, where the presidential election is scheduled for the end of the year, entire areas threaten to be deprived of the presidential election, which is therefore in danger of being called into question.
At the UN in early June, the United States also worried about “the inability of signatories (of the 2015 peace agreement in Mali, editor’s note) to make significant progress”. “The number of attacks in the Western Sahel region has increased by 250 percent since 2018. Partner countries are still determined against terrorism, but cannot afford to contain or mitigate the threat on a lasting basis,” the US Department of State said in a recently published report.