U.S. promises up to $60 million for security in Sahel area

UNITED NATIONS/ABIDJAN (Reuters) – The United States has actually guaranteed up to $60 million to support the Group of Five Sahel States (G5 Sahel) Joint Force’s counter-terrorism efforts, the State Department stated on Monday.

The force – which will eventually make up nearly 5,000 troops systems from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania – is implied to counter a growing jihadist hazard in West Africa’s dry Sahel area that includes groups connected to Al Qaeda and Islamic State.

The U.S. support for the G5 force falls brief of an expectation by France and others that Washington would back direct funding from the United Nations.

“We believe that the G5 force need to be, first and foremost, owned by the countries of the region themselves,” stated the United States ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley in remarks to the Security Council, following news of the new money dedication.

“We expect that the G5 countries will take on complete local ownership of the force within a period of three to six years, with continued U.S. engagement,” she said.

A non-U.S. Security Council diplomat said, nevertheless, the U.S. likes continuing to search for some kind of direct U.N. participation in supporting the G5 force.

An ambush by unknown militants this month in Niger killed 4 U.S. Special Forces troops and threw a spotlight on American involvement in counter-terrorism operations in the area.

The funds promise, which need to now be talked about with Congress, will boost the United States’s regional partners in their battle against Islamic State and other terrorist networks, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in the statement.

Washington watches out for moneying the G5 through the United Nations at a time when the Trump administration is aiming to cut U.N. expenses on peacekeeping operations all over the world, and has actually shown it chooses to support the force on a bilateral basis.

The G5 nations have set a first-year operating spending plan of simply under $500 million, and about a quarter of that was dedicated before the U.S. statement. A donors conference will be held in Brussels in mid December.

Reporting by Rodrigo Campos and Aaron Ross; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama