Islamist militants are making further inroads into Tillabery, a region on Niger’s border with Mali. To fend off the threat, Niamey should supplement its counter-insurgency campaign with initiatives aimed at soothing communal tensions along the frontier and starting dialogue with locals in the jihadists’ orbit.
Jihadist violence continued in south east and south west, while opposition voiced concern over electoral framework ahead of Dec elections. In south-eastern Diffa region along border with Nigeria, Boko Haram factions continued campaign of abductions and attacks against civilians. Suspected Boko Haram militants, or members of splinter group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), 1 July reportedly killed five people in N’Garoua Gana village and 9 July abducted up to nine women and children in Njibouloua village in N’Guigmi area; suspected Boko Haram militants same day abducted 15 people in Kindjandi town. Jihadists and bandits’ attacks on villages and livestock raids continued in south-western Tillabery region near Burkina Faso. Nine humanitarian workers taken hostage by suspected jihadists in Bossey Bangou village late June were released 1 July. Suspected Islamic State militants 3 July killed village chief and two other civilians in Filingue area and 9 July killed two Fulani community leaders in Ayorou area. In white paper published 23 July, main opposition parties called for inclusive political dialogue to discuss revision of electoral framework ahead of presidential and legislative elections scheduled for 27 Dec. Electoral commission same day postponed municipal and regional elections planned for Nov until 13 Dec citing COVID-19-related delays. NGO Amnesty International 13 July called for release of journalist Samira Sabou, arrested in June on defamation charges, saying case was “politically motivated”; Sabou released 29 July. Govt 17 July announced plans to reopen air borders 1 Aug following their closure in March amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Trafficking – a catch-all term for illicit movement of goods and people – has long sustained livelihoods in northern Niger. But conflicts are emerging due to heightened competition and European pressure to curb migration. Authorities should persevere in managing the extralegal exchange to contain violence.
Au Mali, au Burkina Faso et au Niger, le boom aurifère représente une nouvelle source de financement, voire un terrain de recrutement pour divers groupes armés, y compris jihadistes. Les Etats sahéliens devraient rétablir leur présence aux abords des mines d’or et mieux formaliser l’exploitation aurifère artisanale.
Le primat donné aux réponses militaires et le recours à des groupes armés à base communautaire pour combattre les mouvements jihadistes implantés dans la zone frontalière entre le Niger et le Mali n’ont fait qu’accentuer les tensions intercommunautaires. Les autorités nigériennes doivent adopter une approche plus politique, incluant réconciliation entre communautés, dialogue avec les militants et amnistie dans certains cas.
Créée en février 2017, la Force conjointe du G5 Sahel est une force de nouvelle génération dans un espace sahélien où se bousculent des initiatives militaires et diplomatiques parfois concurrentes. Il ne suffira pas de fournir des armes et de l’argent pour résoudre les crises sahéliennes. Pour atteindre ses objectifs, la force doit gagner la confiance des populations et des puissances régionales et obtenir leur soutien.
The struggle against Boko Haram in south-eastern Niger is increasingly sharpening local conflicts over access to resources. There is no military solution to this insurgency, and the authorities should instead put the emphasis on demobilising militants, solving local conflicts, reinvigorating the economy and restoring public services.
The problem, in Niger’s case, is that policies aimed at disrupting trafficking in the north could inadvertently end up fueling instability.
The main fault-line for conflict in the Mali-Niger border has shifted. A year ago, it was drawn between communities. Now it lies between militants loosely fighting under an IS banner and state forces.
Les groupes djihadistes sont passés experts dans l’instrumentalisation des conflits pour mieux s'implanter.
Jihadist groups present since the 2012 crisis in Mali exploited local unrest and the weak presence of the state in northern Mali to launch cross-border attacks against the Nigerien army... Despite direct support from Chadian troops since 2015 and closer collaboration with the Nigerian army, Nigerien forces have been unable to fully secure the border with Nigeria from attacks, including some linked to the Islamic State.
L’analyste Hannah Armstrong regrette que Niamey délaisse le dialogue avec les communautés frontalières de la région de Tillabéri, notamment les nomades peuls.
Originally published in Le Monde
Crisis Group's Sahel Expert Hannah Armstrong explains that trafficking has long sustained livelihoods in northern Niger. But conflicts are emerging due to heightened competition and European pressure to curb migration. Authorities should persevere in managing the extralegal exchange to contain violence.
A shocking attack by an Islamic State affiliate has killed more than 70 Nigerien soldiers, the most ever in a single incident. Crisis Group expert Hannah Armstrong explains that the jihadists’ strength is rooted in decades-old communal grievances in the Mali-Niger border zone.
La stratégie qui privilégie une option militaire disproportionnée à la frontière entre le Niger et le Mali fait peser un risque sur la région : celui de créer un nouveau foyer d’insurrection. C'est le constat que dresse l’International Crisis Group, qui fait une série de recommandations.
Originally published in Jeune Afrique