Mali and Niger seek International Funding for Anti-Terrorist Forces in the Sahel

Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker 

Modern Tokyo Times

The nations of Mali and Niger – part of the G5 Sahel bloc that also incorporates Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mauritania – are appealing for international economic funding in their collective fight against Sunni Islamist terrorism. Of course, nations like France will be open to strengthening anti-terrorist forces based on its historical legacy throughout the Sahel. However, it is important that support is truly international because terrorist forces throughout the region seek to destabilize regionally and further afield.

On top of this, Sunni Islamist Takfiri indoctrination is seeking to spread its ideology throughout the Sahel and other nations outside of the G5 Sahel bloc. For example, terrorist forces emanating from northern Nigeria have spread their upheaval to the Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. ISIS (Islamic State – IS) and various al-Qaeda affiliates are equally active in nations like Libya. Equally disturbing for Europe is the Moroccan angle to several terrorist attacks on this continent. Therefore, anti-terrorist measures throughout the Sahel region are important for several continents because of the growing terrorist ratlines that happen to be engulfing more nations.

President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger said, “We bring this combat against terrorism not only to protect our own people and countries but for the whole world.”

European nations that are increasingly being targeted by Sunni Islamists must build greater bridges with Sahel nations while focusing on issues related to Libya and the Moroccan terrorist angle. If not, then not only will terrorism and the Takfiri ideology spread throughout the Sahel – but this region will also become a stepping stone to much larger ambitions.

International Crisis Group reported in early 2017 about the changing tactics of various Sunni Islamist Takfiri groups. This highly esteemed group said, “Rather than trying to hold towns or urban districts, these groups – which include al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Boko Haram, the Macina Liberation Front (FLM) and al-Murabitoun – are using bases in the countryside to strike at provincial and district centres, often forcing national armies to retreat and local state authorities to abandon immense rural areas to jihadist control.”

Voice of America reports, “Issoufou said the force would be divided into three deployments across the Sahel region: an eastern one consisting of Chadian and Nigerien forces; a central one with forces from Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso; and a Western one with troops from Mali and Mauritania.”

Overall, it is essential for the international community to support all Sahel nations in their collective struggle to contain terrorism. Of course, it goes without saying that many components must be included, for example, economic support, developing weak infrastructures, health care, education, and other important areas.

https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/west-africa/mali/forced-out-towns-sahel-africas-jihadists-go-rural

https://www.voanews.com/a/niger-mali-seek-funding-anti-jijadist-force/4027849.html

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