U.S. To Ramp Up Counterterrorism Efforts In Sahel Region
Despite years of U.S. and international efforts to fight terrorism in the area, extremist groups are gaining ground.
By Robbie Gramer
The Trump administration is preparing to create a new special envoy position and task force to deal with security threats in the Sahel region of Africa, reflecting a growing alarm in Washington about the rise of extremist groups in West Africa, including ones affiliated with the Islamic State.
The measure comes as extremist groups carry out increasingly deadly attacks in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso and spread their reach further south. Officials and experts warn that the extremist groups are gaining strength despite U.S.-led special operations raids and drone strikes, and yearslong efforts by Western countries and West African governments to root out the groups.
The administration is preparing to appoint a special envoy who would head an interagency task force composed of officials from the State Department, the intelligence community, the Defense Department, and other agencies to better coordinate the U.S. response to the extremist groups in the region, current and former officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter tell Foreign Policy. One official cautioned that the details of the plan are still being hashed out and the move has not yet been made official. The administration is also drafting a new strategy for the Sahel to guide the work, several officials said.