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Dakar forum on security in Africa: Sahel at the center of concerns

Article from AFRIC Editorial
The Dakar summit on security in Africa, which was held in the Senegalese capital from 18 to 19 November, was an opportunity for President Macky Sall, host of the event, to plead in favor of the Sahel region, which knows a degrading security situation. Recalling to the audience that "fighting terrorism in the Sahel together is authoritative for community security," the Senegalese head of state, whose country shares a common border with Mali, used this forum to advocate for "Robust mandate" for the UN forces deployed in the neighboring country that is languishing under the weight of the jihadist threat, despite the presence of international forces on the ground.

With the theme “Current Challenges of Multilateralism”, the event, now in its sixth year, took place in a dispute marked by a fall of bloody attacks by jihadist groups in the Sahel.Since its creation in 2014, the Dakar summit on security in Africa, is a Franco-Senegalese initiative. where political decision-makers and security specialists meet each year. According to the Senegalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the theme of multilateralism has its place in a context where Africans remain highly dependent on military cooperation with international organizations such as the UN and foreign nations such as the United States and France.  However, this collaboration does not exclude the fact that it is necessary for the African States directly affected by the problem of terrorism to set up their own spaces for reflection, paving the way for solutions to stop the phenomenon.

At the Abdou Diouf International Conference Center in Diamniadio, the conference focused on the strategies put in place by the continent’s leaders to counter the terrorist threat that is gaining ground, particularly in Sahelian countries. Among the distinguished guests at the meeting were French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, French Defense Minister Florence Parly and Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani.

Advocacy for strengthening regional forces

Spared by the threat of terrorism, Senegal remains concerned about the security situation in the Sahel region, a territory facing insecurity and jihadist extremism. Despite its exclusion from the G5 Sahel, the country led by Macky Sall has always shown a major interest in the security challenges faced by this organization that includes Mauritania, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali

Its troops present in the UN force which ensures a mission of stabilization in Mali, are appreciated for their good technical formation and their effectiveness on the ground. Recognizing the recent decline of the security situation in the Sahel, President Macky Sall and his Mauritanian counterpart have both called for a stronger mandate from the UN force Present in this region. President Macky Sall’s guest of honor at the Dakar Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani has insisted on reinforcing regional forces that he believes are more familiar with the field and may have proved more effective than UN peacekeepers. For the Mauritanian leader “the leadership of the fight against terrorism must be entrusted to the states that face it on a daily basis”. A request that refers to the strength of G5 Sahel who is still waiting for the pledges made for its operationalization and equipment.

Mobile, lighter, better-grounded regional forces should be given more importance as a response than a heavy, static force with an often limited and costly mandate. The United Nations must thus give a more robust mandate and more sustainable funding to sub regional forces such as the joint G5 Sahel force.

UN called to reform peacekeeping mission

In the face of the danger posed by the armed extremist groups that swarm in the Sahel, it is imperative for the Senegalese president that the UN reform its arrangements particularly in Mali, where the terrorist threat continues to grow. For that, Macky Sall appealed to the support of China and Russia, both of whom sit on the Security Council, to make their voices heard in favor of a more healthy mandate from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the United Nations  Mali (MINUSMA).

The Mauritanian leader whose speech is identical to that of his Senegalese counterpart, argues that the policy of the UN peacekeeping mission deployed in Mali is out of step with the realities of the Sahel region. Recalling that the security situation in Mali has deteriorated considerably despite the presence on the ground of 30,000 soldiers composed of G5 Sahel troops, the French contingent of Operation Barkhane, the Malian army and MINUSMA. The Senegalese head of state for his part stressed that there is surely a problem for these military forces to be regularly defied by a band of individuals. Hence the urgency of a change of strategy at the local level.

Solidarity towards Mali

Mali is the country that is most confronted with the terrorist threat in sahel . The burrs of many jihadist groups in some cities of the country have forced many schools to close. In his speech, the Senegalese head of state pleaded for the cause of Mali. As the forum on security in Africa opened in Dakar, the eastern part of the country led by Ibrahim Boubakar Keita was the target of a terrorist attack that killed 24 Malian soldiers. To these deaths is added the hundred soldiers killed during two attacks of scale that took place in the space of one month on the borders of the Niger and Burkina Faso. In an interview with the Senegalese newspaper Le Soleil, the Mauritanian president called on the international community to become more involved in a definitive resolution of the Libyan crisis, which he said has largely contributed to the deterioration of the security situation in the Sahel. The jihadist violence that began in 2012 in northern Mali has now spread to the neighboring countries of Niger and Burkina Faso.

For Salif Keita, France finances terrorism in Mali

The situation in Mali is extremely upsetting. While many voices are heard more and more to demand the end of the carnage that began 07 years ago, the musician Salif Keita has also stepped up to the plate accusing France of funding jihadism in his country. Through a video published on Facebook, the one considered internationally as the ambassador of Malian music asks President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to no longer follow the directives of President Emmanuel Macron, but to leave power if he is not able to tell the truth to the Malians.

His remarks, were quickly condemned by the French ambassador to Mali, and described as “defamatory words that play in the hands of those who seek to sow discord and maintain chaos’. A statement from the French official criticized in return by the Malian population, who mobilized massively in Bamako last Friday to demand of its policies clarifications on the troubled game of Paris and especially the inability of the French forces deployed in Operation Barkhane to curb the expanding jihadist influence in the Sahel despite its impressive means of technological, aerial, logistical and human intelligence.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Photo Credit : google image/illustration

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