G5 Sahel leaders launch joint military force
Following the green light from the United Nations on 21 June, G5 Sahel leaders officially launched a joint military force (FC-G5S) during an extraordinary summit held on 2 July in Bamako. French President Emmanuel Macron participated in the event. He confirmed that the French would back the new force and called for its rapid and effective implementation. In a joint press conference with Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, Macron announced EUR 8 million of funding for operational logistics support, mostly in material contributions (70 tactical vehicles, transmission equipment and protection equipment), technical support and advisory services. He also confirmed EUR 200 million development assistance over 5 years via the French Development Agency (AFD). The new force is supposed to be fully operational by October 2017, despite the fact that only a portion of the necessary funding has been secured. The European Union pledged about EUR 50 million. Each of the G5 Sahel members will contribute around EUR 10 million each. The total budget of the new force is, however, estimated at EUR 423 million, which means that, to date, a little bit less than 25% of the required financial resources have been covered. France is seeking additional funding partners -- possibly Germany, the World Bank and UNDP -- to support the Sahelian Alliance and will make this a priority during its UN Security Council presidency in October. Following negotiations between France and the United States, the UN approved Resolution 2359 (2017) on 21 June, which welcomes “the deployment of the FC-G5S throughout the territories of its contributing countries, with up to 5 000 military and police personnel, with a view to restoring peace and security in the Sahel region.” However, it does not include any international funding commitments. On the contrary, it “recalls that the G5 Sahel States have the responsibility to provide the FC-G5S with adequate resources,” and “urges the FC-G5S, MINUSMA and the French forces to ensure adequate co-ordination.” Some 15 000 soldiers, including 4 100 soldiers from Chad, Burkina Faso and Niger, are currently deployed as part of the international peacekeeping force MINUSMA. The French military’s Operation Barkhane counts 4 000 French soldiers and the new joint G5 Sahel Force aims to mobilise 5 000 soldiers and police personnel. President Idriss Déby of Chad voiced his reluctance to further commit his forces unless they receive more international support. An international donors’ conference will be organised in the coming months. Beyond the question of funding, the new joint force must also address huge challenges related to co-ordination and the harmonisation of intelligence exchange services between the five Sahelian countries.