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.
Jihadist activity continued in west along Mali border. Jihadist coalition Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM) claimed 5 July ambush on military convoy that killed five soldiers in Midal valley, Tahoua region, supposedly under influence of other jihadist group Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS). Mali-based Tuareg and Doosaak groups reportedly killed seven Fulani herders at Anderaboukhane on Mali-Niger border 11 July. Boko Haram (BH) attacks rose again in Diffa region in south east: alleged BH militants 2 July killed nine civilians and abducted dozens in Ngalewa village, looting food and cattle. Soldiers 6 July killed fourteen unarmed civilians in restricted access area around Abadam village, mistaking them for BH militants. At summit of G5 Sahel (Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania) in Bamako 1-2 July, members each pledged €10mn to finance 5,000-strong joint military force to counter jihadism in region (see Mali). Authorities increasingly harassed journalists and civil society: journalist Ali Soumana imprisoned and charged 3 July with stealing official documents and “violating the secrecy of the investigation” into case involving govt and Lebanese company.
Regional armies in the Lake Chad basin deploy vigilantes to sharpen campaigns against Boko Haram insurgents. But using these militias creates risks as combatants turn to communal violence and organised crime. Over the long term they must be disbanded or regulated.
The Sahel’s trajectory is worrying; poverty and population growth, combined with growing jihadi extremism, contraband and human trafficking constitute the perfect storm of actual and potential instability. Without holistic, sustained efforts against entrenched criminal networks, misrule and underdevelopment, radicalisation and migration are likely to spread and exacerbate.
Suicide attacks on military and mining targets, followed by a violent prison break in the capital, revealed Niger’s fragile stability in a crisis-ridden neighbourhood.
The Sahel, a vast region bordering the Sahara Desert and including the countries of Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania, is increasingly referred to by the U.S. military as "the new front in the war on terrorism".
Jihadist groups have regrouped in the neglected hinterlands of Sahel countries and are launching attacks from them. To regain control of outlying districts, regional states must do far more to extend services and representation beyond recently recaptured provincial centres.
La lutte contre Boko Haram doit se faire avec le souci d’éviter les amalgames et d’apaiser les tensions intercommunautaires.
Originally published in Le Monde
Originally published in Jeune Afrique