Irish troops set for Africa to ease pressure on French combating Isil – – Our News, Your Views

Irish troops set for Africa to ease pressure on French combating Isil

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Irish peacekeeping troops will be sent to Mali in Africa to allow France to withdraw military personnel to help in the fight against Isil.

It is expected that this move will free up French troops for deployment elsewhere, where they can have more of an impact on Isil in light of the Paris attacks. This is set to be Ireland’s central response to the attacks following a call for help by France to members of the EU.

For the first time ever, a “mutual-defence clause” in the Lisbon Treaty was invoked to ensure that EU countries provide support for French operations against Syria and the Islamic State following the horrific attacks. French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said all 27 of France’s EU partners responded positively to this at an EU defence ministers’ meeting.

Article 42.7 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty states that if a member country “is the victim of armed aggression on its territory”, other members have “an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power”.

Mr Le Drian detailed the importance of the need to provide stronger national security while France is in a state of emergency, while also informing France’s EU partners of their military burden in Lebanon, the Central African Republic and northern Africa.

Mr Le Drian said that France’s EU partners could help “either by taking part in France’s operations in Syria or Iraq, or by easing the load or providing support for France in other operations”.

The Irish course of action in response to this will now be considered by the Government. Defence Minister Simon Coveney said yesterday that Ireland were prepared to provide assistance to France in any way that they could, once that it did not breach the Irish stance of neutrality or endanger the lives of Irish soldiers.

Mr Coveney stated that while no decisions had yet been made, a bigger deployment in a country like Mali was the most likely option, and was being considered even before the Paris attacks on Friday.

Mali is a landlocked country in Africa that was enveloped by conflict following the ousting of their president in a military coup in 2012. Forces in Mali are divided into several factions, with one being hijacked by Islamist extremists.

At present, 850 Irish troops are currently involved in UN missions, but fewer than 500 of them are based overseas. This gap of 350 soldiers allows Ireland to aid France significantly and give them the opportunity to withdraw military personnel to aid the fight against Isil.

The attacks on Paris were referred to as “September 11 for Europe” by Greek Defence Minister Panagiotis Kammenos. Foreign policy chief of the EU, Federica Mogherini, also detailed that “France has been attacked, so the whole of Europe has been attacked”.

Britain, Finland and Sweden are supporting the actions of France, and stand ready to assist the fight against Isil.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian missile cruiser Moskva, currently in the Mediterranean, to start co-operating with the French military on operations against Isil in Syria.

Germany and Italy have since ruled out any role in the air campaign against Isil in Syria.

Ireland will offer “total solidarity and support” to France, Enda Kenny said in the Dáil. The Taoiseach made it clear during his statement that “barbarity will not be allowed to triumph over civilisation”.

Despite this, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald told the Dáil that it is important that the Gardaí are ready for any conflict that arises following the attacks, in what is seen as an “evolving threat”.

Following these comments, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan is carrying out important reviews to see if additional resources are needed to fight international terrorism.

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