Oualata, Mauritania — A fledgling African regional force fighting jihadists in Sahel countries is more effective — with fewer resources — than a UN mission with a similar remit in Mali, the Mauritanian president says. “The G5 makes do with the little resources it has, despite lots of pledges, while Minusma has huge resources and doesn’t do as well,” Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz told French journalists. “Relatively speaking, the G5 has not failed.” The G5, whose secretariat is based in Mauritania, is a French-backed scheme conceived in 2015 to combat jihadism and lawlessness along the Sahara’s southern rim, but lack of funding and shortfalls in equipment and training have led to delays in its operations. It groups Mauritania with four other former French colonies — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Niger — where militants of Boko Haram and the Islamic State group as well as armed gangs have gained a foothold.

As well as fighting militants, the G5 tackles smuggling and illegal immigratio...

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