Since 1999s, a blend of rebel groups, resistance reservists and organizations allied with Al-Qaeda and Islamic States have fragilized the legitimacy and stability of states in North and West Africa. The last 9 years were amongst the most violent ever recorded in the region with over 17,000 violent incidents and 62,000 fatalities due to the sharp rise in political violence targeting non-combatant and border regions. It has been unclear, however, whether violent organizations have been intensifying and targeting their acts of violence in particular localities, spreading insecurity to a growing number of regions
The evolution and contemporary state of civil-military relations in the francophone Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal). In a first step, traces the emergence of excessive political influence of the armed forces in the Sahel. Out of these, in all these countries, only Senegal has remained under civilian rule since independence. The other countries have experienced military dictatorship at some point. Over the last thirty years, the Sahel has seen a shift toward more civilian oversight in political affairs. In Chad and Mauritania, however, the armed forces remain the pre-eminent political actor. In Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, sections of the armed forces refuse to accept civilian rule.
While instability has been a recurring theme in the Sahel and West Africa, violent events have become more frequent and deadly in recent years and their underlying dynamics have grown increasingly complex. Regional co-operation dynamics, trade, and free movement are therefore played out in a more precarious and unstable context, to which policymakers must adapt. They require accurate information to better understand these volatile dynamics and their geographical dimensions, and how decisions made at different levels of governance can impact events across different territorial scales, whether local, national or regional.
Regional peace and security frameworks have principally placed emphasis on member countries’ militaries and their institutions. Unfortunately, such an approach has not been sufficient in countering transnational terrorist threats. There is a need to incorporate more local actors in regional security frameworks, thus improving civil military relationships, while also reinforcing the capacity of member states in combatting these terrorists’ organizations.
It is to be noted however that, the evolution of violence across North African are increasingly confronted with new forms of political violence that continue to cascade to West African countries. The situation is particularly worrying in the Sahara-Sahel where violence is on the rise. This degrading security situation has prompted African countries and their partners to intervene militarily to stabilize the region and to prevent the spread of extremism and violence against civilians. However, the initiative has faced many obstacles due to the transnational nature and geography of violence in North and West Africa, with a particular focus on Mali, Lake Chad and Libya.
It is to be noted that, the number of civilian victims of West African conflicts now exceeds the number attributed to battles between the government and armed groups. This development is leading to an increase in violence against women, who are often the first victims of identity struggles. Women also participate in acts of violence, particularly through suicide attacks in the Lake Chad basin. Of the 399 suicide attacks that occurred from June 2011 to August 2020, 80 were carried out by women. However, the phenomenon has been declining sharply due to the loss of territorial control of Boko Haram. The need to implement counter-insurgency strategies that protect populations, especially women is a key issue that can go a long way to protect the vulnerable. A key highlight is the recent terrorists’ attacks in Burkina Faso In the early hours of Saturday 6th June 2021 where terrorists raided the village of Yagha in the northern Sahel region, opening fire on residents and villagers claiming about 160 lives, majority of who are the vulnerable
The stability of Sahelian countries and the capacity of their governments to manage social change and resulting tensions have major security implications for migration flows, economic development, and health concerns both for local people and for the broader international community. .
The role Chad has played in the fight against Boko Haram and other forms of regional violent extremism in an effort to take stock of the current threats, the Chadian government continue to make significant strides in this regard. The mitigation of these diverse and multi-dimensional security threats, particularly at the domestic level, would benefit from an environment that is more supportive of democratic institutions and the rule of law, thus enhancing the country’s prospects for stability in the short- and long-term.
The Sahara-Sahel has seen recurrent episodes of instability. However, the recent Libyan and Malian crises have intensified the level of violence. These episodes have restructured the geopolitical and geographical dynamics of the region. Cross-border or regional, these contemporary crises require new institutional responses.
Historically, the Sahara plays an intermediary role between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. Commercial and human exchanges are intense and based on social networks that now include trafficking. Understanding their structure, geographical and organizational mobility of criminal groups and migratory movements represents a strategic challenge.
The most recent West African approaches examines the regional strategies employed to counter the spillover of extremism in the Lake Chad Basin region. Unfortunately, such an approach has not been sufficient in countering transnational terrorist threats. There is a need to incorporate more local actors in regional security frameworks, thus improving civil military relationships, while also reinforcing the capacity of member states in combatting Boko Haram and other violent groups.
In order to highlight the demographic dimension of these continued security challenges. High unemployment, political, inequality and economic marginalization have been highlighted as some of the structural reasons why countries facing these forms of demographic challenges are more susceptible to armed conflict and terrorism. The African region is not solely regarded as the world’s youngest continent due to its large share of youth populations; it is also one of the regions hosting majority of the world’s underdeveloped and unstable states.