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Iran Press TV

US urges clear strategy before funding Sahel force

Iran Press TV

Sat Oct 28, 2017 11:46AM

The United States says it supports an African counter-terrorism task force known as the G5 Sahel but needs to see a clear strategy before considering funding the group.

US envoy to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley said on Friday that the US had reservations about contributing to the 193-member UN funding of the force for combating militants in West Africa's arid Sahel region.

The G5 Sahel task force is comprised of troops from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, and Mauritania.

Haley said Washington wanted to know "what the strategy would be, how they see this playing out, what's involved in it before we ever commit to UN-assessed funding."

"Show us something, we're open to it, we're not saying no, but what we're saying right now (is) there literally has been no information that has been given that gives us comfort that they know exactly how this is going to play out," she said.

Separately, Chief of US Africa Command Marine General Thomas Waldhauser said, "In Africa, with all the challenges of the youth bulge, poverty, the lack of governance, wide open spaces, these are areas where violent extremist organizations, like Daesh or al-Qaeda, thrive."

Waldhauser said the United States currently makes a total of $51 million in bilateral defense contributions to the G5 countries.

Reflecting the US's unease at the UN's funding of the force itself, Waldhauser added that, "United Nations forces don't do counter-terrorism, they do peacekeeping operations."

"One of the hardest things to do in an organization like that is to try to synchronize the efforts of those five countries and have a coherent strategy as opposed to just a series of engagements in different locations," he said.

Earlier this month, a report to the Security Council by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that only 25 percent of the planned Sahel force budget of 490 million dollars for the first year had been offered.

US involvement in counter-terrorism operations in Africa has been under the spotlight since four US Special Forces troops were killed in an October 4 ambush in Niger.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis told lawmakers in Congress last week that the American military was shifting its counter-terrorism strategy in Africa and would expand military operations in the continent.

Mattis told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Pentagon would expand the ability to use lethal force against suspected terrorists in Africa and place decision-making authority in the hands of US commanders on the field.

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