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Turkey to pledge millions to aid Sahel force against militants

March 2, 2018 at 12:45 pm

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and President of Mauritania Mohammad Veled Abdulaziz (R) hold a joint press conference in Mauritania on 28 February 2018 [Raşit Aydoğan/Anadolu Agency]

Turkey is set to donate $5 million to aid in the fight against terrorism and trafficking in the turbulent Sahel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced yesterday during his visit to Mauritania.

The money will go towards equipping the G-5 force which consists of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger who will attempt to restore security in the lawless areas of the Sahel occupied by militants.

“Turkey is one of the countries which best understands the dangers with which you are confronted in the Sahel. We have therefore decided to give $5 million to help the G-5 Sahel force,” Erdogan explained in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott.

The European Union announced that it will fund the G5 with $61 million which it raised during a recent fundraiser in Brussels. Following Erdogan’s pledge, the anti-terror force will have a total of nearly $515 million which it has been promised by the likes of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and United States.

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“Sahel countries are confronting the dangers of terrorism, extremism, illegal trafficking and drug trafficking,” Mauritanian President Mohammad Ould Abdel Aziz said during the press event.

“In this regard, we are pleased with President Erdogan’s support for the G-5 Sahel in the efforts he is making to face up to these dangers.”

The G5 force is expected to start operating by mid-2018 and will work with the 4,000-strong French presence in the area as well as the UN’s 12,000-strong peacekeeping operation based in Mali.

Currently only $61 million of the money pledged is available as Sahel leaders urge that the influx of Daesh fighters driven out of Libya and Syria is growing more concerning for the region.

Erdogan is currently on an African tour, the second in just nine weeks, and will head next to Senegal in a boost to secure Turkey’s influence on the continent.