Sahel, a Counterterrorism Force Fights for More Than Funding

Di Vincenzo Santo*

(Da Startfor – 22 dicembre 2017)

Paris. The French effort to bring security to the Sahel is getting a financial boost. French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed that the cash-strapped Group of Five (G5) Sahel Force will receive $180 million from Saudi Arabia and $35 million from the United Arab Emirates. The financial boost puts the force significantly closer to realizing its budgetary requirements, which are estimated at more than $470 million annually. Although much more funding is needed, Macron has announced an additional donor conference in February, which will likely augment the current amount, and supporters of the force can feel a bit more optimistic that it will reach its goal. But funding is far from the only challenge facing the force. Thus far, the G5 Sahel countries — Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania – have pledged $10 million each, making foreign donations a must. The United States has promised $60 million, the European Union $50 million and France $8 million, combined with significant investments in manpower and resources. These commitments, along with the promised funding from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, bring the prospective figure to roughly $300 million. […] The G5 Sahel Force faces deep challenges, and first and foremost is that the governments behind it are weak. Each of the Sahel states has significant problems, including corruption, demographic bulges, lackluster economies and brain drain. These issues — combined with the vast, isolated and ungoverned lands of the Sahel — have cultivated an attractive vacuum for violent extremist organizations to operate in. Nevertheless, Macron has remained adamant that the force will have seven battalions fully trained and operational by March 2018. That goal would be ambitious under the best of circumstances, but it is especially so here because of the weakness of the various militaries involved and the structural challenges these countries face. Though France has been quick to furnish some members of the force with war materiel, the various members of the force have woefully uneven capabilities. […] the United States also appears ready to engage more in the region in 2018. In November, Niger’s government confirmed that it had finally given the go-ahead for the U.S. military to deploy armed drones in the country, rather than just surveillance drones. The confirmation followed an ambush of Nigerien and U.S. troops that killed four Americans. […]

Sahel Region


*Generale CA ris