Tag Archives: Sahel

Chad army reduces G5 cooperation

Chad’s army will no longer participate in military operations beyond its borders, President Idriss Deby said on April 10, the decision undermining international efforts to defeat Islamist groups in the djihad-plagued Sahel and Lake Chad region.

Deby spoke during a visit to the Lake Chad area in the west of the country to mark the end of an offensive against jihadist group Boko Haram, which carried out its deadliest-ever attack on the army in March, killing nearly 100 soldiers in an ambush.

On April 9, the army officials informed that a further 52 soldiers had died and more than 100 wounded in the 10-day counter-operation against Boko Haram, claiming to neutralise 1,000 of the jihadists and expelling them from two island bases in the lake, which borders Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria.

Chad has felt alone in the fight against Boko Haram since we launched this operation,” Deby said in a speech broadcast on April 10.

Our soldiers have died for Lake Chad and the Sahel. From today, no Chadian soldier will take part in an external military operation,” he concluded.

According to him, 90% of Boko Haram terrorist have been destroyed and the other 10 percent escaped to Niger and Nigeria. President Deby was quoted as saying,

It was not immediately clear how the decision would impact the anti-jihadist operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) comprised of troops from countries bordering Lake Chad. Its mission had already been complicated by divisions and a lack of cooperation.

However the experts say that President Deby will not cut ties with his allies in the region, and the international community, but limit the participation of Chad in joint G5 operations, which will weaken the mission, because Chadian military have exceptional skills in conducting combat, adapted to the desert harsh conditions. The heavy losses of Chadians in battle for the lake, left bitter sentiment, reproaching the neighbouring countries in lack of solidarity.

Chad’s armed forces are among the most respected in the region, a reputation forged during decades of war and rebellions, and honed in a 2013 campaign against al Qaeda-linked Islamists in the deserts of northern Mali.

Its suspension of external military operations could also affect the France-backed G5 military force, which battles a growing Islamist militancy in the Sahel region with soldiers from Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad.

In recent years, militants linked to both al Qaeda and Islamic State terrorist groups have strengthened their affiliations, making large swathes of territory ungovernable and stoking ethnic violence, especially in Mali and Burkina Faso.

Mali: soldiers killed in attack

Dozens Malian soldiers have been killed in an attack on an army base in the country’s northeast in the town of Tarkint, north of Gao, according to the armed forces. French media indicated number of casualties has risen to 30 servicemen slain, and five wounded.

There was now immediate claim of responsibility for this attack, the deadliest against for the Malian army this year.

Mali’s army has repeatedly suffered heavy casualties from armed Islamists groups active in the area affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS), intending to establish the Caliphate in West Africa.

Mali: kidnapped couple released

A Canadian woman and Italian man kidnapped in Burkina Faso in December 2018 have been released to the United Nations’ MINUSIMA peacekeeping mission in neighbouring Mali and appear to be in good health, a mission spokesman said on March 14.

Edith Blais and Luca Tacchetto went missing while travelling through Burkina Faso, a country where jihadist groups have affiliations to al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

UN mission spokesman Olivier Salgado wrote on his Twitter microblog that Blais and Tacchetto were received by peacekeepers on March 13 evening and were handed over to Malian authorities later on 14.

West African Dogs starring at show

A new participant is looking to be top dog at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

For the first time, the Sahelian Azawakh will be competing at the annual New York City event running February 8-11. It will be one of more than 200 breeds and varieties represented in the competition for which there is no cash prize.

“It’s all about honor, and prestige, and a trophy and being part of history,” says Gail Miller Bisher, Westminster Kennel Club Show national spokesperson.

The sighthound originating from West Africa is now recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and therefore eligible for Westminster. In order for a breed to become recognized by the AKC, “there must be a minimum number of dogs geographically distributed throughout the U.S., as well as an established breed club of responsible owners and breeders,” according to Samantha Seymour, AKC public relations manager.

Bisher says new breeds are recognized “almost every year.”

“These breeds – they may be very old breeds, actually, in other parts of the world, but they’re becoming more popular in the U.S., and so that’s the case with the Azawakh,” she says.

The Azawakh is a breed of dog from West Africa, named after Azawagh Valley. It is also used as a sighthound, they have been relegated to a secondary function of camp guardian due to the lack of game in the region. With ancient origins, it is raised throughout the Sahelian zone of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

This region includes the Azawagh Valle. While commonly associated with the nomadic Tuareg people, they are also bred and owned by other ethnic groups such as the Peulh, Bella, and Hausa. The Azawakah is more related to the Sloughi than it is to the

Ramaphosa chairs African Union

President Cyril Ramaphosa has officially assumed chairmanship of the African Union at the 33rd summit of heads of state and government at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

This will be the second time South Africa holds chairmanship of the continental body after first doing so in 2002 when the African Union succeeded the Organisation of African Unity, the Presidency said in a statement.

Cyril Ramaphosa began his mandate vowing to end the conflict in Libya and the Sahel region and to tackle world powers fuelling wars on the continent.

Addressing the AU Summit in Addis Ababa on Feburary 9 afternoon, Ramaphosa pledged solidarity with the people of Palestine and Western Sahara.

“We must also deal with the actions of other countries outside our continent that are fighting proxy wars and fuelling the ongoing conflicts,” Ramaphosa said.

“Today we reaffirm our unwavering support and solidarity with the Palestinian people in their legitimate quest for an independent and sovereign State, as well as the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination. We must ensure that our independence and freedom as the peoples of this continent should be universal,” he continued.

Ramaphosa said South Africa would host an extraordinary summit on silencing the guns in May. He also reiterated the Union solidarity with Western Sahara and Palestine.

French solders neutralise Islamists

In a combat operation French soldiers neutralised more than 30 Islamist militants in Mali in three separate missions on February 6-7, targeting al Qaeda and Islamic State affiliated groups, France’s armed forces announed.

France, the former colonial power in a number of West African countries, has about 4,500 soldiers in Sahel region in its counter-terrorism taskforce Operation Barkhane. The United Nations has a 13,000-strong peacekeeping operation in Mali.

In the Gourma region, soldiers of the French Barkhane force killed about 20 militants and destroyed several vehicles, while in the Liptako region, a stronghold of Islamic State, 10 more were killed, the French troops officaial informed.

Sahel: France hopes US stays

France hopes the United States will not diminish support for French military operations in West Africa, where jihadist groups affiliated with Islamic State and Al-Qaeda are increasing their activities.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian made the appeal as Defence Minister Florence Parly was due to meet U.S. counterparts on January 27 to discuss the crisis in the Sahel.

Last year the Pentagon announced plans to withdraw hundreds of military personnel from Africa as it redirects resources to address challenges from China and Russia after two decades focused on counter-terrorism operations. Those changes are following an ongoing global troop review spearheaded by Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

The possibility has alarmed France, which relies on U.S. intelligence and logistics for its 4,500-strong troops in the Sahel.
I hope they will be rational to keep this partnership … and that good sense will prevail,” le Drian told reporters.

The U.S. currently has 6,000 military personnel in Africa. Although some experts say a re-positioning of forces is overdue, many U.S. politicians and experts share French concerns about jihad spreading in Sahel region.

EU comitted to Sahel

The EU Foreign affairs Council exchanged views on the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Sahel and the role the EU can play as leading partner in the region. The debate has been centred on ways to increase the impact of the EU’s actions supporting security, stability and development. The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell deplored death toll in Sahel region  – Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad, inderlinging the number of growing number of causalties last year amounting to five thousand people (4,779), among them 1500 soldiers.

 

The EU commitment to Sahel is considerable and unprecedented: because of the amounts mobilized but, above all, because of the longevity and intensity of the European political and human investment. Since 2014, the EU – Commission and Member States – has mobilized more than € 8 billion to respond to the multiple challenges of the region.

However the EU must do more, differently and better, and be more effective and better understood by the populations, the joint action must be rethought, the European diplomat said. The EU dialogue with our Sahelian partners must be more frank, more in-depth and be based on mutual trust in order to break the terrorist dialectic which seeks to divide all those who want peace in the Sahel.

EU defence ministers to visit Sahel

The French Defence minister Florence Parly (pictured) expected to arrive to the Sahel on Sunday January 19 with her counterparts from Estonia, Sweden and Portugal, the countries ready to support Barkhane’s trooops in the fight against jihadist armed groups.

“I am going to the Sahel on Sunday, I will be accompanied by the Swedish Minister for Defense, as well as by the Estonian Minister for Defense and finally the Portuguese Minister“, said Florence Parly on Europe 1.

We will continue to support our Sahelian partners and, in addition, we are calling for internationalization, for partners to join us to help the countries of the Sahel to fight this fight,” she added.

Estonia has confirmed its participation in the future coalition of special forces (“Takuba”) which France has taken the initiative to support by 4,500 troops of Barkhane in the Sahel. Sweden and Portugal could also be present.

We are not alone and there will certainly be more of us there when, in the summer, this Takuba force, which will be made up of European special forces, will be able to accompany the Malian armed forces,” said Florence Parly.

Barkhane does not act alone. The last operation that we conducted recently, more than 50% of the forces that were involved in this operation were partner forces, Sahelian and European. ”

Barkhane: France sends 220 troops

Faced with a persistent jihadist threat, the leaders of the G5 Sahel countries and France announced the establishment of a new operational framework with redefined priorities and concentrated action on the so-called “three borders” area between Mali , Niger and Burkina Faso.

The military coalition will have a “joint command” between the Barkhane force and the joint force of the G5 Sahel, “by integrating our intelligence forces, our military forces” in the area of the three borders, “with a much stronger latitude of engagement. ”, said Emmanuel Macron.

“Beyond that, I decided to engage additional combat capabilities – 220 soldiers to initiate this dynamic will swell the troops already present on the Barkhane field”, which currently counts 4,500 men, added the French head of state.

“The priority is the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS), which does not prevent us from fighting all the armed terrorist groups but it is the priority enemy because the most dangerous,” he said. for follow-up. A month after threatening to withdraw French troops from the region in a context of anti-French sentiment, Emmanuel Macron estimated that he had obtained the necessary “clarification” from his partners who in a joint declaration expressed the wish to see the Barkhane operation.

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