French military minister advocates patience in the Sahel against jihadists
On Thursday, the French military minister, Florence Parly, advocated patience in the war against jihadists, announcing the opening of a Barkhane operation in the area of the three Burkina-Mali-Niger borders
"We will take time to defeat these groups, who are enjoying the social and economic difficulties of the Sahelian countries, "said Parly at the joint working group of the French Barkhane, N Djamena, the first part of his tour that takes place in a strained security context after the death of a French soldier, 51 Malian soldiers and a Burkinabè vice mayor and his three companions.
"It is a struggle where you have to be patient," the minister said. "Barkhane does not get stuck … Barkhane is constantly adapting (…), it will take time to build up this resilience with the local forces. Our commitment to the Sahel is and still is a priority for France".
She then flew to Ouagadougou where she met President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.
"We talked about the regional situation, especially from a security perspective, and I also had the opportunity to share with the President, in addition to the tragic events of recent days, the progress made in the fight against terrorism. is the result of the very effective cooperation between Barkhane and Burkinabe armed forces, "she said.
She announced the launch "today (Monday) of Operation Bourgou 4, led by Barkhane but with the prominent participation of two Burkinabe companies and which will take place in the zone of the three borders, which is the zone where the effort must be carried "
" The fight continues, it must continue, it is a long-term fight that we must fight together against terrorism ",
The French operation, launched in August 2014, mobilizes 4500 French soldiers but in the Sahelo-Saharan belt, in support of the national armies fighting jihadists affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) group or al-Qaeda.
The minister then visited about 200 members of the French special forces Saber Task Force. In particular, she has taken refuge in front of the stele dedicated to the members of the special forces killed in the Sahel since 2013.
The names of the masters Alain Bertoncello and Cédric de Pierrepont, who died in May by releasing two French hostages kidnapped in Benin (as well as an American and a South Korean) were added to the list.
The minister had to leave Ouagadougou in the evening to go to Mali, the last step before returning to France.
"This trip takes place in an extremely difficult security relationship," the minister told AFP on the plane that took her to N & Djamena, two days after the death on Saturday of a dead French soldier by an explosive plant in northeastern Mali, an attack claimed by a local branch of the Islamic State group.
Brigadier Ronan Pointeau, 24, "was characterized by his courage, his talent and his enthusiasm (…), we must continue the struggle that (he) has devoted his life until he gave it," said Mrs. Parly in front of the soldiers in Barkhane.
"And I want to think about the Malian soldiers who fell during the attack" in Indelimane Friday, "they also pay a lot of blood price in this fight," the minister said. At least 51 Malian soldiers were killed on Friday and Saturday: 49 in the attack on a military camp in Indelimane, in the northeast, also claimed by ISIS, and two Saturdays in central Mali.
Jihadist violence continues in northern Mali, six years after the French military intervention Serval, followed by Operation Barkhane. They spread to neighboring countries Burkina Faso and Niger.
Four people, including the Deputy Mayor of Djibo, a large city in northern Burkina Faso where jihadists multiply attacks, were killed on Sunday in ambush, no far from an army camp that 70 French soldiers from Barkhane had helped strengthen in September.
The national armies of the Sahelian countries, among the poorest in the world, do not seem to be able to stop the progress of attacks despite the support of foreign troops, including French soldiers.