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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

US Assigns Special Envoy for Africa's Sahel as Soldiers to Pull Out


Sat 07 Mar 2020 | 01:33 PM
Yassmine Elsayed

US State Department announced that it created the post: Special Envoy for the Sahel region in Africa, which will be assigned to counter the escalation of violence there after groups linked to al Qaeda and ISIS strengthened their presence in the region.

The ministry's spokesman added that the envoy Peter Pham has already started his new role a few days ago as an envoy to the Sahel. Pham had been the US special envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa since November 2018.

"The Sahel region is one of the regions where the situation is deteriorating on the continent," the spokesman said.

Security deteriorated in the Sahel region of West Africa after extremist militants strengthened their presence throughout the region, leaving vast areas out of control and fueling ethnic violence.

France intervened in 2013 to expel the militants who controlled northern Mali in 2012. The fighters then regrouped and spread, and during the past year, they intensified their attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

The US plans to  reduce the size of US forces deployed there became recently a pressing conecrn.. The US Department of Defense is considering withdrawing soldiers in a worldwide deployment review, with the goal to allocate more resources to dealing with the challenges posed by the Chinese military, nearly two decades after prioritizing counterterrorism operations around the world.

This prospect has alarmed France, which relies on US intelligence and supplies to support its 4,500-strong mission in the Sahel. After 13 French soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash during a combat mission in Mali, France's determination to provide more support in the region increased.

The United States currently has about 6,000 people in Africa. Many US officials share France's concerns about the easing of pressure on militants in the region.

The latest Foreign Ministry report on counter-terrorism, published last November, said that there has been an increase in militant group attacks in the region.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had warned then that there is a growing concern about ISIS in West Africa and called for the global coalition facing the organization to focus on the Sahel.