Niger formally agrees deployment of European forces on its territory to fight jihadists

Niger lawmakers approved on Friday, 22 April, a bill allowing the redeployment to its territory of European special forces, previously based in Mali to fight against jihadist groups in the Sahel.

While Niger’s parliament overwhelmingly approved the legislation with 131 votes in favour and 31 against, the policy remains opposed by some parties who oppose Western military influence.

Faced with the opposition, which is claiming a loss of national sovereignty, Niger's Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou reminded parliamentarians that the country was surrounded by armed terrorist groups.

Niger's president Mohamed Bazoum had already agreed in principle in February to the deployment of more European soldiers on its soil. This was in reaction to the withdrawal of European troops from Mali, following the rapprochement between the Malian junta and Moscow.

While the new law does not specify the number of European soldiers arriving in Niger, around 2,400 French troops and 900 European special forces personnel are due to leave Mali in the coming months. Paris hopes to redeploy some of them to Niger or countries in the Gulf of Guinea such as Benin, Ghana, and Côte d'Ivoire to carry on the war against jihadist groups.

Indeed, the intelligence activities and air support provided by the European forces seem crucial to Niger in order to fight efficiently on the ground.

While the ruling party's large majority ensured that the law was passed smoothly, it is the anger of civil society weary of a foreign army presence amid growing public anger about France's military involvement in its former colonies that causes concern to the government.

The prominent role of the Malian population's support for the decision of the country’s military rulers to forego French military support is just one expression of the resentment of the many people in the Sahel towards the French.

Niger faces terrorist groups affiliated primarily with Boko Haram on its southern flank and al-Qaeda terrorists on its western border with Mali.

During the visit of German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock to Niger to discuss Niger's security concerns, the Prime Minister Massoudou had indicated that Niger wanted partners to become more involved in training the country's forces and taking part in joint missions.

Sources: CommonSpace.eu with Reuters (London), DW News (Bonn), Challenges (Paris) and other media outlets
Picture: A smiling French soldier in the Sahel; Twitter: @ASSN_Africa

Related articles

Editor's choice
News
Borrell tells the European Parliament that the situation in Afghanistan was critical, but the EU will remain engaged

Borrell tells the European Parliament that the situation in Afghanistan was critical, but the EU will remain engaged

Borrell underlined that the European Union will make every effort to support the peace process and to remain a committed partner to the Afghan people. "Of course, we will have to take into account the evolving situation, but disengagement is not an option.  We are clear on that: there is no alternative to a negotiated political settlement, through inclusive peace talks.
Editor's choice
News
Turkey holds delicate talks with Sweden and Finland ahead of a decision on their NATO membership application

Turkey holds delicate talks with Sweden and Finland ahead of a decision on their NATO membership application

Senior Turkish officials have met with government delegations from Sweden and Finland as discussions continue following Ankara's threat to veto the NATO membership application of the two Nordic countries. Most NATO countries have warmly welcomed the decision of Sweden and Finland since their membership in NATO will considerably strengthen the northern flank of the alliance, but Turkey accuses both countries of having an ambivalent position on Turkey's struggle with militant Kurdish groups. On Wednesday, Swedish and Finnish government delegations travelled to Ankara to meet with Turkish representatives in an effort to resolve the country’s doubts regarding their accession to NATO. In their first face-to-face meeting since the two Nordic countries applied for membership, Turkish representatives stressed their security concerns, and conditions regarding Sweden’s “cooperation” with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said in a statement late on Wednesday that positive steps towards the lifting of an arms embargo from Finland and Sweden had been taken. In October of 2019, Sweden and Finland were among some  European states that imposed an arms embargo on Turkey following a military incursion into Syria.

Popular

Editor's choice
News
Turkey holds delicate talks with Sweden and Finland ahead of a decision on their NATO membership application

Turkey holds delicate talks with Sweden and Finland ahead of a decision on their NATO membership application

Senior Turkish officials have met with government delegations from Sweden and Finland as discussions continue following Ankara's threat to veto the NATO membership application of the two Nordic countries. Most NATO countries have warmly welcomed the decision of Sweden and Finland since their membership in NATO will considerably strengthen the northern flank of the alliance, but Turkey accuses both countries of having an ambivalent position on Turkey's struggle with militant Kurdish groups. On Wednesday, Swedish and Finnish government delegations travelled to Ankara to meet with Turkish representatives in an effort to resolve the country’s doubts regarding their accession to NATO. In their first face-to-face meeting since the two Nordic countries applied for membership, Turkish representatives stressed their security concerns, and conditions regarding Sweden’s “cooperation” with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said in a statement late on Wednesday that positive steps towards the lifting of an arms embargo from Finland and Sweden had been taken. In October of 2019, Sweden and Finland were among some  European states that imposed an arms embargo on Turkey following a military incursion into Syria.