US donates $10 million to support French Army counter-terror operations in the Sahel


US President Barrack Obama has authorized the immediate release of US$10 million to fund the airlift and aerial refuelling services of the French Army as it launches a new trans-Sahel counter-terrorism operation in five West African countries on the southern rim of the Sahara desert.

In a special proclamation order issued on Monday, President Obama said the funds will help French forces involved in ‘Operation Barkhane’ to cover unforeseen emergencies.
“Pursuant to the authority vested in me by section 506(a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.., I hereby determine that an unforeseen emergency exists that requires immediate military assistance to France in its efforts to secure Mali, Niger, and Chad from terrorists and violent extremists. I further determine that these requirements cannot be met under the authority of the Arms Export Control Act or any other provision of law.
“I, therefore, direct the drawdown of up to $10 million in defence services of the Department of Defence for these purposes and under the authorities of section 506(a)(1) of the Act. The Secretary of State is authorized and directed to report this determination to the Congress, arrange for its publication in the Federal Register, and coordinate the implementation of this draw-down,” President Obama said.

US National Security Council spokesman Edward Price said the donation followed a French request for US support in the provision of cargo and troop airlift and aerial refuelling services.

Early this month, the French Army started deploying 3 000 troops to new operational bases in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger to mark the beginning end of Operation Barkhane.

President Francois Hollande ordered the re-deployment of the French Army to the broader regional counter-terror operation following the conclusion of ‘Operation Serval’ which pushed Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and allied trans-Sahelian Islamist militant groups from towns in northern Mali and back into desert hideouts.