Start of a “major” military exercise with the armies of the Sahel and Togo

Start of a “major” military exercise with the armies of the Sahel and Togo
Start of a “major” military exercise with the armies of the Sahel and Togo

A “major” military exercise, bringing together the armies of Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad and Togo, has been underway since the start of the week in western Niger, close to Mali, announced on Sunday the Nigerien Ministry of Defense. In this area, where jihadist groups are active, a “large-scale national exercise has been underway at the special forces training center” in Tillia since Monday, the ministry said in a press release.

The Tillia Special Forces Training Center, which hosts the exercise, was funded by Germany and has been operational since July 2021 near the Mali border, the scene of recurring and deadly attacks by jihadists affiliated with the state group. Islamic and Al-Qaeda. This exercise, which is the result of a “military partnership between Niger and friendly countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo and Chad”, includes “tactical maneuvers” and “initiatives aimed at strengthening ties with local populations,” underlines the ministry.

These are the first joint military maneuvers of their kind between the five countries, all facing varying degrees of jihadist violence. Togo is one of the West African countries that has adopted a more conciliatory tone with the military regimes that came to power through coups in Mali, Burkina and Niger. These three countries left the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at the beginning of the year to form their own organization, called the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) and announced in March the creation of a Joint anti-jihadist military force.

Turning their backs on their traditional partners, in particular the former colonial power France, they have strengthened their ties with Russia in particular. This exercise, which will end on June 3, is initiated “with the aim of strengthening operational capabilities” and “the resilience of the AES armed forces in the face of all potential threats,” explains the ministry.

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