PARIS, DECEMBER 13 – The Italian commitment in the African Sahel G5 force region will start, after the Parliament’s vote, “in the coming weeks” with a training mission in Niger, Paolo Gentiloni, Italy’s prime minister, announced during a conference near Paris where the French president Emmanuel Macron hosted a summit focused on a new African military force to counter jihadists in the region.
The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and the leaders of five African nations joined the meeting, as well as the Saudi and United Arab Emirates foreign ministers. The G5 is a joint regional military force set up by the governments of Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. “Any further initiative”, Prime Minister Gentiloni added, should be balanced with the ongoing deployment of other Italian military missions, including the mission in Iraq, where are located a thousand soldiers: “It is possible that some of these forces will no longer be indispensable there in the next future”.
According to Gentiloni, the Italian effort in the Sahel is in the “national, as well as European” interest, because it is directly linked to the migrants crisis in Libya and in the Mediterranean. The G5-Sahel force has a headquarters in Sévaré, in the center of Mali, and has two command centers in Niamey and Mauritania. The goal is to be make the force operational in a few months. At the press conference following the summit, which took place at La Celle Saint-Cloud castle, in suburbs of Paris, Gentiloni greeted the decision as “an important action for Africa, for Europe and for the Mediterranean”. The G5-Sahel force, which will need a total budget of 250 million euros a year to be operative, will receive further funds from the Gulf partners – Saudi Arabia and the Emirates – in addition to the 50 million promised by the EU and the US. President Macron announced: “Our goal is clear: military victories in the first half of 2018″. While Merkel explained that “we can not afford to wait” because “terrorism is spreading rapidly” and it is “urgent” to act. (@OnuItalia)