By: Nadeemy Haded
On Monday, France will host a security summit to strengthen anti-terrorism in the West African region, which has witnessed an upsurge in bloody violence.
With the start of the security summit in France in the presence of the leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger and Mauritania, French President Emmanuel Macron hopes to confront the anti-French sentiments that appeared amid frustration with the extremist attacks that killed thousands of people last year alone.
France, which once colonized part of West Africa, has about 4,500 soldiers in the sprawling Sahel region, and some residents have accused it of failing to stabilize it.
Some in Mali, which has fought for nearly a decade against extremism, protested the French presence.
Macron wants the summit in the southern French city of Pau to help re-legalize the French operation on the coast by sending a strong joint message.
It is expected to announce the pledge of France and African countries to combat extremism by military and political means.
In recent weeks, Macron found himself on the defensive. On a visit last month to Côte d'Ivoire, he rejected accusations that France was entering the region driven by imperial or economic goals.
He said, "I do not belong to a generation known to colonialism," promising to continue fighting against extremist groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIS.
But the French president added: "We need to define military, political and development goals more clearly for the next six, 12 and 18 months."
He stressed that unity of effort is crucial, noting that the French need to know whether their forces are welcome or not.