Expansion of violent events linked to an array of militant Islamist groups in the Sahel highlights the growing scope of security challenges facing this region.
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If Victims Become Perpetrators: Factors Contributing to the Vulnerability and Resilience to Violent Extremism in the Central Sahel
Marginalized young Fulani people in central Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger behave in different ways when faced with violent extremism. Data gathered from 36 focus groups held in four villages in each of the three countries shows that one important determinant of support for extremist groups is experience or perception that the government is corrupt and abusive. Another is whether conflict resolution mechanisms to regulate access to natural resources, in particular water for crops and land for pasture, function adequately. While jihadi justice is seen as swift, if at times inhumane, some young people who perceive complicity between the army and ethnic militias also see violent extremist groups as their only defense.
The G5 Sahel is ramping up its joint security force in order to address the growing threat posed by militant Islamist groups in the Sahel. The Force is emerging as a focal point for transnational security efforts in the region.
Violent extremist organizations have expanded their ambitions, capacities, and geographical reach into the Sahel and West Africa, creating an arc of instability across the region. Boko Haram, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and other militant groups present a continuing threat to the stability of the region. As they come under increasing pressure from regional and international security forces, their future evolution is uncertain, but they have proven their ability to adapt and rebound in the face of previous setbacks. The Africa Center’s Benjamin Nickels joined a panel experts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies to discuss the continuing challenges facing the Sahel.
Fixing a Fractured State? Breaking the Cycles of Crime, Conflict and Corruption in Mali and the Sahel
Militants, terrorists, and clans have taken advantage of the weak governance in Mali and the Sahel to expand and entrench criminal networks. To properly respond to this trend the international community and Mali should institute a new conceptual framework. It will need a nuanced understanding of the actors involved and their basis in community legitimacy,... Continue Reading
Dr. Noureddine Jebnoun, an Africa Center faculty member who focuses on governance and security in North Africa and the Sahel, authored an article titled “Changing Security Dynamics in North Africa and Western Sahel,” recently published in the Portuguese Journal of International Affairs, No. 8 (Spring/Summer 2014). In the article, Dr. Jebnoun provides an overview of... Continue Reading
Despite growing concerns across the Sahel and Maghreb over the increasing potency of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the diffusion of heavily armed mercenaries from Libya, the expanding influence of arms and drugs trafficking, and the widening lethality of Boko Haram, regional security cooperation to address these transnational threats remains fragmented. Algeria is well-positioned to play a central role in defining this cooperation, but must first reconcile the complex domestic, regional, and international considerations that shape its decision-making.
Increasing narcotrafficking and a more active Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb are elevating concerns over instability in the Sahel. However, the region’s threats are more complex than what is observable on the surface. Rather, security concerns are typically characterized by multiple, competing, and fluctuating interests at the local, national, and regional levels. Effectively responding to these threats requires in-depth understanding of the multiple contextual layers in which illicit actors operate.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has undertaken increasingly frequent and effective attacks in the past year, posing a dangerous and growing threat in Africa’s Sahel region. Reversing this trend presents a particularly complex challenge as AQIM has simultaneously strengthened ties to local communities and regional criminal networks. Efforts to counter AQIM will require... Continue Reading
Multiple climate change models foresee future environmental pressures in the harsh Sahel region that could trigger the collapse of community coping mechanisms, mass displacement, and regional fragility. At the same time, no deterministic relationship between environment and insecurity is apparent. Political and economic circumstances display a stronger role in the region’s conflict dynamics. However, adjustments... Continue Reading
Assistant Research Fellow
Areas of Expertise: Peace operations, stability operations, security sector reform, UN sanctions, UN expert panels, countering violent extremism, counterterrorism, West Africa, Central Africa, and the Sahel Africa.
October 10–11, 2018 Washington, D.C. Info Note | Program Schedule | Syllabus Africa Center Overview Plenary 1 U.S. National Security Structures and the Making of Foreign Policy Recommended Reading: Toni Johnson, “Congress and U.S. Foreign Policy,” Council on Foreign Relations, January 24, 2013. James M. Goldgeier and Elizabeth N. Saunders, “The Unconstrained Presidency: Checks and Balances... Continue Reading