Macron outrage: French President and Africa to create super-army to CRUSH and destroy ISIS
FRANCE and African nations from the Sahel region have agreed to form a unified powerful task force to crush the jihadist insurgency that has been growing in intensity in recent years.
By JOHN VARGA. Express.co.uk. January 14, 2020
Militant Islamist groups, some with links to Al-Qaeda and ISIS, have stepped up their attacks on both civilians and troops, despite the presence of thousands of troops from France and the affected countries. Only last week, Niger suffered a devastating blow, when 89 of its soldiers were killed in an attack by the jihadists. French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the heads of state from Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania, the so-called G5 group, for a security summit in the south-western French city of Pau on Monday.
The leaders agreed to place their troops and resources under a unified command structure, known as the Coalition for the Sahel, in an attempt to destroy the insurgents.
President Macron has committed another 200 French troops to supplement the 4,500 already in the region and the 5,000 (5) soldiers from the G5 group of nations, as well as the 12,000 (6+6) UN peacekeepers.
The French President told reporters: “We have no choice. We need results.”
Before procedures got under way, the leaders commemorated the deaths of 13 French soldiers, who died in a helicopter collision in Mali last month.
This was the biggest military catastrophe the French have suffered in nearly four decades.
Leaders also issued a plea to US President Donald Trump to not withdraw US military support from the region.
The US currently has two drone bases in Niger, but a report in the New York Times last month claimed that the Pentagon was considering reducing troop levels in Africa or even withdrawing completely.
Mr Macron said he would try to persuade Trump to stay, saying that “if the Americans decided to leave Africa, this would be very bad news for us.”
Ahead of the summit, the French President and his Defence Secretary Florence Parly called upon the G5 heads of state to say clearly that French troops were welcomed on the ground, amid reports of anti-French feelings running high among local populations.
The security crisis erupted in the Sahel region in 2012, when separatist and Islamist militants took over northern Mali, leading to a French military intervention to force them out.
Although a peace deal was signed, it was never fully implemented, resulting in the formation of new armed groups and an expansion of fighting to central Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.
Last year witnessed the highest death toll as a result of fighting since the security crisis broke out in 2012.
The Sahel is the name for the area that stretches south of the Sahara from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Red Sea in the east, or from southern Mauritania to Eritrea.
The summit comes as President Macron desperately seeks an end to the crippling public transport strikes that have plagued the country for over a month.
The strikes broke out over the Government’s decision to raise the retirement age from 62 to 6
Edouard Philippe, the country’s prime minister, made a climbdown over the weekend in the hope of breaking the deadlock in the bitter dispute with trade union leaders.
The moderate Confederation Française Démocratique du Travail union (CFDT) instantly welcomed the news but hardliners, including the communist Confederation Generale du Travail (CGT) have vowed to press on with strike action.
In a letter to the unions, Mr Philippe wrote: “I am ready to withdraw from the draft law the short-term measure I proposed about moving progressively after 2022 towards a balanced retirement age of 64 in 2027.”
He added that a conference on financing France’s costly pension system would have to make a final decision by the end of April on a way to eliminate the deficit in the pension system.
In November a official report forecast that the current French pension system would be running at a deficit of between €8 billion and €17 billion by 2025.
President Emmanuel Macron pledged to deliver sweeping reforms to the system as part of his 2017 pitch for the country’s highest office.
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