World View: France Promotes ‘G5 Sahel’ Peacekeeping Force in West Africa After Jihadist Attacks

France is attempting to overcome US reservations about financial backing for anti-terrorism forces in the Sahel region of Africa, pictured in May 2017 when French President Emmanuel Macron (C), visited the French troops in northern Mali

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Jihadists attack multiple targets in Mali and Burkina Faso
  • France calls for international peacekeeping in G5 Sahel force

Jihadists attack multiple targets in Mali and Burkina Faso

Djenna Mosque in Timbuktu, Mali, built around 1300
Djenna Mosque in Timbuktu, Mali, built around 1300

On Sunday night, gunmen opened fire on the Aziz Istanbul café in Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso, killing 20 people and wounding several others. Last year, in January 2016, jihadists with AK-47s attacked a café called Cappuccino and a hotel on the same street as the Aziz Istanbul Café.

On Monday in Mali, gunmen attacked two camps of the UN peacekeeping force in Mali, one in the northern city of Timbuktu and the other in the central city of Douentza.

Gunmen stormed into the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA) in Mali headquarters in Timbuktu on Monday and opened fire, killing seven. In a separate incident Monday, armed assailants attacked a U.N. Compound in the city of Douentza and opened fire on U.N. peacekeepers and Malian soldiers, killing one peacekeeper. In both attacks, the gunmen were shot dead.

The United Nations Security Council responded in its most forceful manner by condemning in the strongest terms “the barbaric and cowardly terrorist attack carried out in Ouagadougou,” and reaffirmed that “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.”

After the attacks on Monday, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, head of MINUSMA, said, “I do not have enough words to condemn this cowardly and despicable act.” Quartz and UPI and Med Africa Times and AFP

France calls for international peacekeeping in G5 Sahel force

France’s military has been conducting anti-terrorism operations in northern Africa since 2013, when France intervened to prevent Mali’s collapse from an assault from ethnic Tuaregs and al-Qaeda linked jihadists. In 2014, France launched Operation Barkhane to wipe out armed terrorist groups in the Sahel, a term that refers to the strip of Africa just below the Sahara desert, separating the Arab north from Black Africa to the south.

France has 4,000 peacekeeping troops in Operation Barkhane in five countries: Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. However, the cost of maintaining this peacekeeping force is high, and so France’s new president Emmanuel Macron would like to turn Operation Barkhane into an international peacekeeping force, sponsored by the United Nations.

On June 21, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution approving the “G5 Sahel Joint Force,” which would consist of 5,000 soldiers and police. The Trump administration had threatened to veto the resolution because most of the cost would be borne by the United States, the leading financial contributor to UN peacekeeping operations. So the resolution was passed after a compromise between the US and France that dropped a provision that invoked chapter 7 of the UN charter, which authorizes the use of force and UN funding. Instead, the resolution was written so that the €423 first year budget would be funded by pledges from UN countries.

There have been pledges by France and the European Union, but not nearly enough. However, the multiple terror attacks Burkina Faso and Mali in the last few days has resulted in renewed efforts to get funding. A donor conference will be held in Berlin in September, and a planning conference in Brussels in December. United Nations and Foreign Policy (13-June) and RFI (22-June) and Eurasia Review (1-July) and Le Monde

Related Articles

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, Aziz Istanbul café, Mali, Timbuktu, Douentza, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, France, Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission, MINUSMA, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Operation Barkhane, G5 Sahel Joint Force
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