A West African force that’s being created to fight a surge in jihadist attacks is getting ready to be deployed after France persuaded Saudi Arabia to help fund the operation, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Saudi Arabia has agreed to provide $100 million to the force known as G5 Sahel following a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to the country in early November, said the person who asked not be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak publicly. The European Union will probably double its initial contribution of 50 million euros ($59 million), the person said.
An email requesting comment from Saudi Arabia’s ministry of foreign affairs wasn’t immediately answered.
Five West African nations -- Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania -- agreed this year to deploy a 5,000-strong regional force to fight militants linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State in the Sahel, a semiarid region stretching along the southern end of the Sahara. The plan received strong backing from France, which already has 4,000 soldiers in the region tasked with hunting down suspected terrorists. (end of excerpt)
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