Organized Crime and Conflict in the Sahel-Sahara Region

By Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Updated: 01/22/2013

National Police Seize Drugs - UN Photo/Christopher HerwigBy Wolfram Lacher. Carnegie Endowment of International Peace, September 2012.

Fragility in the Sahel-Sahara region is driven in part by worsening organized crime. Collusion between smugglers of cigarettes, drugs, and weapons and state officials has eroded state authority and created lucrative funding channels for Islamist terrorists, ethnically-aligned militias, and criminal groups in the Sahel-Sahara region. To reverse this worsening instability, governments and international partners should aim to break up alliances between militias and other local criminal networks that lack strong ideological or principled bonds. Meanwhile, improved opportunities for genuine political participation for marginalized groups can further diminish support for organized crime.

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