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Blinken pitches the US as a substitute for Russia’s Wagner in Africa’s troubled Sahel

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ABUJA, Nigeria — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday pitched america as a greater safety accomplice for Africa instead of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, which he accused of exploiting coup-hit and conflict-hit nations within the continent’s Sahel area.

Blinken, who’s visiting Nigeria as a part of an Africa tour to strengthen bilateral relations, mentioned the U.S. will proceed to assist Nigeria and different regional companions of their efforts to assist stabilize the Sahel, the huge area south of the Sahara Desert that Islamic extremist teams have was a world terror scorching spot because it struggles with a current spate of coups.

“We hope it may well make a distinction in restoring the constitutional order and restoring a essential accomplice in looking for safety within the area,” Blinken advised reporters within the Nigerian capital, Abuja, talking specifically about Niger, the place a coup has threatened a yearslong assist by Western and European nations.

Till Niger’s elected President Mohamed Bazoum was deposed by his elite troopers in July, the nation had performed a essential function in U.S. counterterrorism exercise within the Sahel and was seen as one of many final democratic nations within the area to accomplice with to counter jihadi violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.

However as Niger confronted sanctions from neighbors, the West and Europe, its new junta severed army ties with European nations and turned to Russia for safety partnership. Neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali, which have additionally had two coups every since 2020, have additionally taken related steps.

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Wagner, which is energetic in components of Africa together with Mali, was additionally one of many first sources of assist that Niger’s army leaders reached out to for assist after the coup.

In these African international locations the place Wagner is providing safety assist, “what we’ve seen is definitely an issue (of insecurity) getting manifestly worse and worse,” Blinken mentioned.

“You see the exploitation of individuals and assets by Wagner … Having mentioned that, it’s necessary that we’ve been working to assist our companions who’re looking for efficient methods of preventing insecurity,” he added.

Blinken mentioned that one key side of U.S. assist to Nigeria and the remainder of the Sahel is to strengthen the capability of their safety forces when it comes to tools and expertise, intelligence sharing, and technical assist.

“It goes to having a complete method that genuinely focuses on residents’ safety, working with native communities in partnership, demonstrating the safety forces which can be there, initially, to guard them and to assist their wants,” he added.

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Comply with AP’s Africa protection at: https://apnews.com/hub/africa



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