The European Union seeks to end the state of security chaos experienced by the countries of the African Sahel region as a result of the large expansion of terrorist activity, by establishing a military partnership that would limit the spread of extremist groups.
On Wednesday, February 22, the European Council launched the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) military partnership mission in the Republic of Niger.
In a joint statement, the European Union foreign ministers confirmed that the measure was taken to support Niger in its war against armed groups, explaining that the aim of the mission, which was formally established in December 2022 at the request of the authorities in Niger, is to strengthen the capacity of the army forces to confront terrorist threats, protect civilians, and ensure a stable security environment in accordance with human rights law and international humanitarian law.
The EU mission is providing support to the army forces in Niger by establishing a training center for technicians in the armed forces, providing advice and training to the Nigerien armed forces, and supporting the creation of a new communications and command support battalion.
Stability of the Sahel
In May 2022, the European Union proposed sending three additional training operations or military missions to the Sahel region and West Africa in implementation of the strategy to achieve stability in the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea states.
In July 2022, the European Union and Niger launched a joint plan to address the smuggling of migrants and prevent their flow to Libya, from where they hope to reach the other side of the Mediterranean.
The Sahara region is one of the most dangerous and deadly migration routes in the world, and according to the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Missing Migrants Project, more than 2,000 migrant deaths have been documented since 2014.
Deterioration of the situation in Niger
For her part, Nourhan Sharara, a researcher on African affairs, said that the military partnership mission announced by the European Union with Niger is a clear result of the deterioration of the situation in the African country following the rapid events in the region, especially after France withdrew its forces from Mali as a result of the strained relations between Paris and the transitional government in Mali, as well as the EU’s reduction of its military forces in the same region and its stationing in the African Sahel region.
Sharara confirmed in an exclusive statement to the Reference that terrorist attacks on civilians have increased in the recent period, which prompted the authorities in Niger to request assistance from the European Union. She added that many African countries are witnessing important transitional stages and changing governments in light of the existence of deep-rooted terrorism. The withdrawal of French forces and the reduction of security forces at the borders facilitated the movement of terrorist elements between Niger’s neighboring countries, she noted, and this will have an effect on increasing terrorist attacks as well as deepening divisions within the country, which is exactly what the authorities fear.
Niger is an essential partner for Europe
In the same context, Colonel Hatem Saber, an expert in combating international terrorism, said that the new partnership between the European Union and Niger will focus on establishing a center to help train the army and security forces on maintenance and logistics issues and conduct specialized training for the forces.
Saber confirmed in an exclusive statement to the Reference that the European Union believes that Niger is a key partner in the African Sahel region, in many military fields, especially in the field of combating illegal immigration. He added that the European Union is working to control the routes taken by immigrants in Africa before their arrival to Europe, and therefore Niger’s geographical location makes it a cornerstone in the European immigration file, as it is the heart of the African continent and shares borders with both Algeria and Libya.