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 attacks persisted in north and east, leaving scores dead, while govt denied negotiating with jihadists. Spate of jihadist attacks reported across Sahel region (north) early March. In Oudalan province, suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) 10 March clashed with soldiers and volunteers fighting alongside security forces (VDPs) in Tin-Agadel village, leaving two ISGS and one civilian dead. In Soum province, ambulance 2 March struck improvised explosive device (IED) likely placed by al-Qaeda-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) on Mansila-Solhan road, killing six; unidentified gunmen next day killed five ethnic Fulani civilians including village chief and his son in Kabaoua. In Seno province, several incidents reported in Gorgadji department: suspected ISGS combatants 9 March attacked Guidé village, killing one civilian and seizing livestock; security forces 20 March clashed with suspected jihadists in Gorgadji commune, reportedly leaving five militants and one VDP killed. Meanwhile, clashes between JNIM and ISGS, notably near Ayagorou village, Oudalan province, 6-7 March continued to weaken ISGS’s positions in Sahel region. Centre-North region saw significant clashes between VDPs and jihadists. Notably, suspected ISGS 1 March killed two VDPs and one civilian in Poussoumpoudou mining site, Namentenga province; suspected JNIM combatants 5-6 March attacked VDPs and security forces convoy in Kourao area, Bam province, killing one soldier and five VDPs; further clashes 20 March reportedly left five suspected jihadists and one VDP dead in Ourfaré village, Namentenga province. Jihadist groups continued to demonstrate growing influence in East region: suspected jihadists 7 March abducted two, including member of Koglweogo self-defence group, in Kompienga village, next day killed one civilian in Tagou village, also Kompienga province. In Cascades region in south west, presumed JNIM-affiliated Katiba Macina militants 10 March attacked Gontiedougou village, Comoe province, wounding several residents. Govt 4 March denied it was negotiating with “terrorist groups”, after investigative newspaper L’Évènement late Feb claimed JNIM leader Iyad Ag Ghali negotiated release of 20 JNIM members with national intelligence agency.
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.
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.