Despite a collective determination to stabilize the region, insurgency and terrorism still pose high risks in the Sahel.
Rabat – The Group of Five Sahel countries (G5 Sahel) and their partners, including Morocco, opened on Monday their 7th summit in N’Djamena, Chad, to discuss regional security and joint counterterrorism and anti-insurgency initiatives.
Chad’s Minister of the Economy, Development Planning and International Cooperation, Issa Doubragne noted that “the priorities of [Chad’s] presidency will be to build on what has been achieved and to refocus on development issues.”
One of the most heavily discussed topics during the summit was the anti-insurgency operations in the Sahel. Amid growing dissatisfaction over the perceived failure to stabilise the region in the seven years G5 Sahel has been running, participants urged for more coordinated efforts to guarantee peace and stability in an increasingly fragile region.
Morocco’s Head of Government Saad Dine El Otmani led the North African country’s delegation at the two-day summit.
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In his speech during the summit, El Othmani noted the region’s continued threat of insurgency despite the G5’s collective determination to provide security and stability. While 2020 saw fewer attacks than the previous years, the region still experienced some of the worst attacks on record, he explained.
In some countries in the Sahel the number of insurgency victims has increased fivefold, while more than 3.5 million people have become refugees or internally displaced persons. Whereas the “Islamic State” is collapsing elsewhere, 41% of terrorist attacks in the Sahel between 2019 and 2020 are attributable to the organization, added El Otmani.
The Moroccan Head of Government also stressed Rabat’s commitment to regional stability and its readiness to continue to support the G5-Sahel Defense College in Nouakchott. Only with a more heightened security cooperation can the region address its security challenges, argued El Othmani.
French President Emmanuel Macron also participated in this year’s G5 summit via video conference. While France has boosted its military presence in the Sahel from 4,500 to 5,100 personnel, it has done little to stabilize the region.
Many in the region are growing tired of French presence. Most recently, a group of protesters gathered in Bamako, Mali, to demand an end to France’s military presence in their country and the region at large.
“We demand the departure of French forces. After eight years of intervention it’s been a total failure,” said one of the protesters.