Authorities in Mali seem to be considering negotiations with Jamaat Nusratul Islam wal-Muslimin, the country’s largest Islamist insurgency. Pursuing talks will be a tall order, given the stakes and the group’s al-Qaeda connection. Both the government and the militants should begin with incremental steps.
As long as the election cycle and current tensions [in Somalia] drag on, the attention of the political elite will be more inwardly focused, while other priorities lag behind.
When the political elite [in Somalia] are focused on each other, attention turns away from the battle against al-Shabab.
Unfortunately, while in much of the world 9/11 is viewed as in the past, in Africa, the legacy of those attacks lives on.
If France is to withdraw [from the Sahel] in a drastic manner as the U.S. did [from Afghanistan], the balance of power is likely to shift in favor of the jihadists.
Maybe this is a mistake. But the French are downsizing, they’re not withdrawing [from the Sahel]. They’re still the biggest military force in the region.
Al Shabaab is fully embedded in Somali society, especially in areas under their control, where local populations have little choice but to engage the group.