This week on Hold Your Fire!, Naz Modirzadeh and Richard Atwood are joined by Sahel Project Director Jean-Hervé Jezequel to discuss how Sahelian states and their main backers in France can use dialogue and better governance to craft a more effective strategy against Islamist insurgents.
Jihadist violence persisted in several regions, with clashes between competing jihadist groups reported in north and spike in attacks against security forces in north and east. In Sahel region (north), al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) and JNIM-affiliated Katiba Macina 3-5 April clashed with Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants in Déou village, Oudalan province, leaving at least four ISGS killed; incidents followed similar confrontations which significantly weakened ISGS’s positions in Sahel in recent months. Also in Oudalan province, suspected ISGS combatants 8 April ambushed two vehicles on Markoye-Tokabango road, killing two civilians; raid likely motivated by group’s need for supplies. In Seno province, unidentified gunmen 26 April killed at least 18 civilians in several villages of Seytenga department, and ISGS militants 14 April killed at least ten volunteers fighting alongside security forces (VDPs) in Bouloye Siguidi village, Gorgadji department. VDPs also targeted in Centre-North region. Notably, suspected ISGS militants 1 April killed six VDPs in Dou village, Sanmatenga province, and suspected JNIM militants 6 April killed another in Koulwoko village, Namentenga province. Violence resumed in North region in late March-early April, including 7 April abduction of two miners by suspected Katiba Macina militants in Boussourdou area, Yatenga province. In East region, violence increased in Gourma province. After series of JNIM attacks on VPDs and civilians in Tanwalbougou area late March, suspected JNIM militants 5 April killed three gendarmes and four VDPs in ambush in Lopiengou village. In neighbouring Tapoa province, JNIM 27 April claimed previous day ambush of anti-poaching patrol in Arly National Park, which left three foreigners dead. Meanwhile, Ouagadougou military court 13 April indicted former President Compaoré, who has been living in exile in Côte d’Ivoire since 2014, for complicity in 1987 assassination of former President Sankara; national reconciliation minister, Zéphirin Diabré, had in March called for justice in Sankara case as step toward national reconciliation.
Since 2013, when it sent troops to Mali, France has led international efforts to root out Islamist militancy from the Sahel. Yet the jihadist threat has grown. Paris and its partners should reorient their military-centred approach toward helping improve governance in the region.
La prolifération des groupes armés et l'implantation rapide des jihadistes a conduit, en 2019, à une intensification de la violence au Burkina Faso. Le gouvernement devrait adopter une approche intégrée de la sécurité et mettre fin aux crises du monde rural en résolvant notamment la question foncière.
Face à la percée jihadiste au Burkina Faso, porte ouverte sur les pays du Golfe de Guinée, ceux-ci craignent des attaques sur leurs territoires. Les Etats de la région devraient améliorer le partage du renseignement, renforcer les contrôles aux frontières et renouer un lien de confiance avec la population.
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.
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.
Jihadist violence in the West African Sahel has now spread to the north of Burkina Faso. The response of Ouagadougou and its partners must go beyond the obvious religious and security dimensions of the crisis, and any solution must take into account deep-rooted social and local factors.
Putting a bounty on militant leaders’ heads, these types of policy moves, make negotiations and outreach [in Burkina Faso] quite a bit harder.
Burkina is a gateway to coastal West Africa and there is a real concern that jihadist groups may see it as a launching pad to gain other footholds in the coastal region.
In Burkina Faso, the intelligence system did not rest on an institution but on the shoulders of one man, General Gilbert Diendere. We know that some of the 566 soldiers have joined jihadist groups.
There is a strong sense [in Burkina Faso] that the state has never really done much for the north. [...] Strengthening its military presence isn’t enough – they need to establish trust.
The new rulers [in Burkina Faso] want to use justice when it serves them but they don't want to sink their own ship.
Justice is important for the Burkinabe, and the lack of justice and impunity is one of the reasons people rose against [Burkina Faso's President] Compaore.
As Burkina Faso’s rural conflict rages, the country is also beset by urban unrest. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2020 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to lend support to election preparations and encourage the government to devote energy to the crisis in the countryside.
Burkina Faso is suffering mounting insurgent attacks and social unrest. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2019 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to support the return of some Burkinabé troops from Mali and to fund social programs that could ease discontent.