Russia's Potential Contribution To Sahel G5 May Face French Scrutiny - Think Tank
Russia's potential contribution to the G5 anti-terrorist effort in Africa's Sahel region may be complicated by a geopolitical rivalry with France, Chief Executive of the South African Institute of International Affairs Elizabeth Sidiropoulos told Sputnik
Nigerien Foreign Minister Kallo Ankourao told Sputnik in September that his country would like Russia to assist the G5 Sahel alliance Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger itself - in its fight against regional terrorism.
Sidiropoulos remarked that there was "a lot of rivalry rivalry between France and Russia in the Central African Republic, certainly in the UN Security Council, with lifting of the ban on arms supplies."
Foreign Minister of the Central African Republic Sylvie Baipo-Temon told Sputnik in June that the country needed the UN arms embargo that has been in place since 2013 to be lifted. car Defense Minister Marie-Noelle Koyara told Sputnik back in January that Paris had advised CAR on how to make its case to have the ban lifted.
Koyara said in the same interview that Russia was "the only country that has supplied us with weapons just to strengthen these state institutions, for training our armed forces and making them combat effective."
"But the French have also been very touchy, for example... The [South African] president [Thabo] Mbeki was keen to be involved in the mediation in Cote d'Ivoire, and the late [French] president [Jacques] Chirac said 'South Africa doesn't understand West Africa'. We got out of that pretty quickly in terms of the mediation. So it's not only Russia, it's a whole complex web wanting to make sure that individual countries don't lose their backyard or their sphere of influence," Sidiropoulos explained.
France has been backing G5 in its fight against terrorism. In 2013 and 2014, France led a military operation in Mali to clear Islamist militants from the north of the country. Since 2014, France has been contributing to Operation Barkhane in the Sahel.