Following two military coups d’état in 2022, militant Islamist groups in Burkina Faso have moved to encircle Ouagadougou leaving a trail of unprecedented violence in their wake.
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Two coups d’état in 9 months mark the latest inflection point in Burkina Faso’s political instability, causing heightened uncertainty as the country faces an escalating militant Islamist threat.
Expanded militant Islamist group activity combined with increased wealth from artisanal gold mining in the tri-border region between Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso has heightened the risks of insecurity, fueling demand for illicit small arms. This scenario may degenerate into a self-perpetuating cycle where the availability of arms sparks further insecurity, pressuring communities to seek more firepower for self-defense or retaliation. Community members frequently participate smuggling and trafficking as informants, providers of storage, and subcontractors for the repair of motorcycles, etc. Law enforcement activities must balance against the possibility of disrupting income streams to already poor border communities, or they risk pushing some actors further into the criminal economy perpetuating this cycle.
The terrorist attack on a luxury hotel in Ouagadougou is the second time in recent months that groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have conducted attacks of this type outside their base area. Benjamin Nickels assesses the significance of these attacks and steps that might be taken by Burkinabé authorities and their partners to address future threats.
Struggles over the trajectory of Burkina Faso’s transition highlight four underlying issues that have fueled the crisis and which will shape the course of democratization in the country.
The potential for widespread civil unrest in Burkina Faso could grow if the country’s Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) continues to remain a powerful and largely unanswerable force. Civil society groups and some political parties have been calling for the dissolution of the RSP, a 1,200-strong elite force dedicated to protecting president Blaise Compaoré, who stepped... Continue Reading
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