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State Department commits up to $60M to combat terrorism in West Africa

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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
The Hill, Oct. 30, 2017 - Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday pledged up to $60 million in new security assistance for West African countries struggling with terrorist groups.
The funds will support counterterrorism efforts led by the Group of Five Sahel States (G5 Sahel) Joint Force, made up of 5,000 soldiers from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
“Defeating terrorism depends on making sure terrorist organizations cannot have safe havens on any continent,” Tillerson said in a statement. “This money will bolster our regional partners in their fight to ensure security and stability in the face of ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] and affiliated groups and other terrorist networks.”
The United Nations will meet later Monday to decide how to possibly fund the G5 Sahel Joint Force, which is expected to be fully operational next spring.
Tillerson will not be at the meeting, but said in the statement that U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley will “represent the United States and our full commitment to security in the Sahel region in my place.”
The U.S. government has indicated support for the fledgling G5 Sahel Joint Force in the past, but the Trump administration has objected to U.N. paying for it. France and Italy strongly support the force, but the United States is opposed to multilateral initiatives.
The United States already has a force of 6,000 across Africa, including roughly 800 soldiers in Niger. The U.S. counterterrorism mission in Niger has been heavily scrutinized following an Oct. 4 ambush that killed four Army Green Berets. U.S. officials believe the attack was carried out by an ISIS affiliate.

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