[…] The head of a five-nation force in the Sahel has warned against any early move by France to scale back its anti-jihadist mission in the troubled region.
General Oumarou Namata Gazama, a Nigerien who commands the so-called G5 Sahel force, said the recent arrival of European special forces troops was not yet enough to compensate for a reduction in France’s Barkhane mission.
“At the moment, the contribution of Takuba (the special forces unit) is certainly positive, but Barkhane is a close partner of the joint force — Barkhane helps us to offset the gaps in our national forces,” he said in an interview broadcast Thursday by Radio France Internationale. […]
The G5 Sahel force pools soldiers from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, with the objective of rolling back an eight-year-old jihadist insurgency in the region. But the force badly lacks equipment and training and three years after it was established remains short of its goal of 5,000 troops. In the field, it relies heavily on French airpower, communications, and surveillance.
In France, meanwhile, President Emmanuel Macron is under pressure to scale back the Barkhane mission, which was beefed up earlier this year to combat a surge in jihadist attacks. It currently has 5,100 troops after the reinforcement of 600. Macron said late last month that he would “take decisions in the coming months” about Barkhane. Läs artikel