West African leaders resolved to fight Boko Haram together this past July, but have yet to form a coordinated international response. France’s Minister of Defense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, has announced that France is ready to organize the still-notional coalition between the several mistrustful countries, Voice of America reports:
“We’re at a forum in Dakar talking about the need for Africans to collectively take charge of their security and yet it’s not happening where there is urgency,” Le Drian said.“Everybody distrusts everybody. We have to get beyond that,” he told journalists without giving details. […]Le Drian said Paris would provide about a dozen military advisers to join regional counterparts at a command center in the Chadian capital N’Djamena, 60 km from the Nigerian border.France will help regional powers to launch a joint force of 2,800 soldiers to tackle Boko Haram that was pledged in July but has yet to see the light of day, Le Drian said.“They need organizational, structural, command and inter-operational help. France is offering to do that,” he said.
Nigeria’s sheer size and relative wealth make it a critical member of any coalition to promote regional stability. And France’s continued military presence in West Africa means that the French would have much to lose in the event of regional collapse. France’s Minister of Defense, nicknamed the “Minister to Africa” for his frequent involvement on the continent, explicitly rules out the use of French troops to quell the Boko Haram insurgency. But now that Chad has found Boko links to homegrown jihadis and Cameroon has closed its schools in response to cross-border raids, France has expanded its fight against Islamism in the Sahel to help its allies and former colonies face “the other Islamist caliphate” in the global South.[This post has been edited.]