Thursday

2nd Feb 2023

Borrell: Africa 'needs guns' for stability

The European Union says more guns are needed in Africa to stop terrorism as part of a broader effort to create jobs and growth.

"We need guns, we need arms, we need military capacities and that is what we are going to help provide to our African friends because their security is our security," said the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

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"We are not going to grow, we are not going to invest, we are not going to create jobs without stability," he said, adding solutions must be African in nature and that the EU is ready to help.

Borrell made the comments on Thursday (27 February) in Ethiopia's capital city Addis Ababa as some 22 European Commissioners meet with their African counterparts to kick start and vamp up relations.

The European Commission is set to unveil its strategy on Africa with president Ursula von der Leyen seeking input from the African Union.

Part of those talks involve security and peace, seen as one of the guiding principles between the two sides as conflict spirals out of control in places like Libya and the Sahel.

"It is of upmost importance to enable and empower the African Union and African member states to defend their home country," said Von der Leyen.

The Sahel, an African region south of the Sahara, is a large as Europe. Some 4,500 French troops were deployed in the region shortly after Libya's collapse in 2011, due, in part, to an intense bombing campaign by Nato forces.

The ensuing turmoil in Libya helped generate a massive flow of weapons to Mali, which in turn is fuelling the world's fastest-growing Islamist-led insurgency there.

Islamists linked to al-Qaida had seized control of Timbuktu in 2012, as well as other towns in northern Mali. The French moved into to stop them in early 2013.

Stuck in the barracks

Borrell then seemed to complain that the EU's presence in the Sahel is limited and constrained.

"We the European Union, our missions are mainly training missions, we are not fighting missions, we are not even peace-keeping missions. We are not in the field, we are in the barracks. We are just in Mali, Niger, we are not in Burkina Faso," he said.

He noted some 70 percent of the territory of Burkina Faso is no longer in government hands, large swathes of the population displaced, and that 14,000 schools have been closed due to conflict.

He then made reference to the so-called European Peace Facility, an instrument critics say risk fuelling more instability in the region.

The facility would, for the first time ever, grant the EU the ability to supply outside 'partner' countries and regional military operations with lethal weapons and ammunition.

The whole would fall under the aegis of Borrell, who appears eager to use the new found powers.

Others say success in the region will never be achieved. Among them is the chief of staff of the French armed forces, General François Lecointre.

"We will never achieve final victory," he told French public radio in an interview late November.

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