Boko Haram (BH) 1 Jan attacked army position in Baroua, Diffa region in SE killing three soldiers; fifteen BH killed. Govt said twenty BH members surrendered in Diffa region 4 Jan. Suspected BH members early Jan killed two civilians in charge of negotiating surrender of BH with authorities. BH 21 Jan raided army position in Gueskerou, Diffa region, killing two soldiers; dozens of combatants reportedly killed. In response to protest against President Issoufou’s policies and regime corruption in capital Niamey in Dec, thousands joined presidential coalition march in Niamey 8 Jan. Govt, Mali and Burkina Faso 24 Jan agreed to create joint military force to counter insecurity in border areas in Liptako-Gourma zone. Issoufou 13 Jan signed bilateral agreements with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman including on security cooperation and education funding. IMF 23 Jan approved $134mn three-year arrangement supporting national plan for economic development.
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