G5 Sahel: Niger and Burkina Faso leave anti-Islamist force

Burkina Faso and Niger have followed Mali in announcing they are to withdraw from an international force known as the G5 that was set up to fight Islamists in the Sahel region.

All three countries are run by military rulers following coups who have formed their own mutual defence pact.

Their so-called Alliance of Sahel States (AES) was signed in September.

But Chad and Mauritania are still part of the G5 force which is meant to be made up of about 5,000 soldiers.

A statement from the military-led governments of Burkina Faso and Niger was critical of the G5 force for failing to make the Sahel region safer.

It also suggested the anti-jihadist force undermined the two African nations’ desire for greater “independence and dignity” – and was serving foreign interests instead. They almost certainly meant France.

Relations with the former colonial power have dramatically deteriorated.

The big question is what impact this will have on the Islamist militant groups that have been growing in strength across the Sahel region.

So far there is no evidence to suggest that having soldiers in charge of the country makes the population any safer from the threat of these al-Qaeda and IS-linked fighters.

Additional reporting by Natasha Booty

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