Religious Statecraft in the Sahel
In January 2020, French president Emmanuel Macron hosted an emergency summit for the heads of state of Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad (the G5 Sahel group). The participants agreed to set up the Coalition for the Sahel to tackle the region’s ongoing security crisis. The conflicts in the border regions of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso have left more than 10,000 people dead, and displaced over a million. The French president committed an additional 600 troops to join the 4,500-strong French contingent that is leading Operation Barkhane. Macron is trying to persuade other states to contribute troops. The African Union recently said it would commit 3,000 troops. Estonia and the Czech Republic have also agreed to send soldiers, and negotiations are underway with Sweden, Finland, and Norway. As the Trump administration publicly considers withdrawing American troops and closing its airbase in Niger, it appears that France will be leading ‘War on Terror’ in the Sahel.