Interview: Niger President Praises French Operations, Says “Huge Successes Recorded”

In an interview he gave to the Qatari television channel, “ALJAZEERA”, the Nigerien President, Mohamed Bazoum, said that if we were to look at the number of terrorists, including several leaders, that the Barkhane force has ” eliminated” in the Sahel, “one can only conclude that the French operation was a success and even a major success”.

Has the French Barkhane force failed or succeeded in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel? For the Nigerien president, the answer is conditioned by the expectations of each other, which may be different. That is to say, according to this difference in expectations, it can be said that it failed or succeeded. But, for him, Barkane did not fail in the Sahel. Quite the contrary.

Indeed, President Bazoum believes that if we take into account ”  a certain African opinion which would like Barkhane to solve all the problems of terrorism in the Sahel, obviously, we will say that Barkhane has failed  “. On the other hand, ”  if one is lucid  “, as he considers himself to be, one will say that the French force was ”  an important success in the Sahel  “, he said.

“  For having succeeded in killing 2,800 terrorists among the most combative of the groups mobilized in the Sahel; for having killed Droukdel and the boss of AQIM in Algeria, in the power station, the mother herself; for having killed Abou Walid Al-Sahraoui who is the leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara as well as all his main lieutenants and all the lieutenants of Iyad AG Ghali, when we see the thing from that angle, we can only conclude that the French operation was a success, and even a major success  ”, explained Mohamed Bazoum on the ALJAZEERA television channel.

“  Our armies have the most important role and it is up to them to fail or not to fail. It is up to them, precisely, not to fail  “, he affirmed, emphasizing that he had never thought that ”  Barkhane, or that the external partners were intended to replace our armies and achieve results that would be their own in which we would not take part  ”.

Barkhane’s important work overshadowed by the impotence of the Sahelian armies 

For Mohamed Bazoum, the Barkhane operation in the Sahel was the victim of what can be described as the “powerlessness” of the armies of this region. What, according to him, tends to splash the results that it records there in the fight against terrorism.

“  If our armies don’t perform well, their allies, whatever their results, it will feel like a pretty mixed picture at the end. And in my opinion, Barkhane is a victim of this  , ”he argued.

Calling himself ”  lucid and reasonable  “, the Nigerien president believes that ”  2,800 fewer terrorists in the theater of operations is something significant  “. He specifies that almost all the terrorist leaders were killed [by Barkhane], and, as a result, their organizations are today disorganized. For him, this represents something quite important in the fight against jihadists. “(…) These are things that weigh in the balance of power  ,” he says.


mohamed bazoum

In his interview, which lasted nearly half an hour, the Nigerien president indicated that while the French and the Europeans who are engaged alongside the regional armed forces, within the framework of Operation Takuba in Mali, should redeploy and set up a more consistent system in Niger, ”  Niger would, indeed, certainly be the nerve center of the fight against Jihad in the Sahel”. And this, only “if the external partners would like them  ”. But, for the moment, he underlines, nothing is certain.

“We don’t have a precise idea of ​​how this system, so far at work in Mali, will be rearticulated in the region. It is the whole of West Africa which is threatened and it is all the countries, at least those which are under the most pressing threat, therefore all the ECOWAS countries, which are seeking intervention by special forces, both from Barkhane and from the European operation,  ” declared Mohamed Bazoum.

The physical presence of foreign forces as much in demand as their material assistance

The Head of State of Niger considers that material (and or financial) aid from external partners alone is not enough to combat terrorism in the Sahel. He indicated that he has, with these partners, a program of training, capacity building, but also a program of equipment and construction of infrastructure. He assumes that this competition alone is not enough. “  This is why we conceive their physical presence with the means that are theirs and which are of a superior nature to the means that we are capable of mobilizing  ”.

Moreover, even if the help of these partners is below the expectations of the authorities, according to Mohamed Bazoum, it is inconceivable to do without them. ” We’re going to be satisfied with what they can give us  ,” he said.

According to Bazoum, so that Niger does not fall into a ”  difficult situation  “, such as, he predicts, the one ”  which will happen to Mali  ” for having opted to do without external partners, ”  it is better to be with these partners, even within the limits of the insufficient means that they mobilize alongside us than to break with them  “.

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