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Ahead of Mali withdraw, France prepares future Sahel strategy

Ahead of Mali withdraw, France prepares future Sahel strategy

FRENCH officials head to Niger to redefine the country's strategy to fight Islamist militants in the Sahel as thousands of troops complete a withdrawal from Mali and concerns mount over the growing threat to coastal West African states. Coups in Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso have weakened France's alliances in its former colonies, emboldened jihadists who control large swathes of desert and scrubland, and opened the door to greater Russian influence. Concerns have grown that the exit of 2,400 French troops from Mali - the epicentre of violence in the Sahel region and strongholds of both al Qaeda and Islamic…
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Enablers of political extremism: a checklist for West African countries

Enablers of political extremism: a checklist for West African countries

THE Sahel – the region just south of the Sahara – is home to the world’s fastest growing extremist group, Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin or JNIM, and the most deadly group, Islamic State in West Africa, according to the 2022 Global Terrorism Index. The various militant groups in the Sahel have different tactical preferences and operate in specific contexts. What they share is a general ideological commitment to unsettle and obliterate existing state structures, not necessarily to take over the state. Author MUHAMMAD DAN SULEIMAN, Research fellow at the UWA Africa Research & Engagement Centre, The University of Western…
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Mapping the contours of Jihadist groups in the Sahel

Mapping the contours of Jihadist groups in the Sahel

THE Sahel region, an area covering 3 million sq km, has been a hotbed of Islamic Jihadi groups in recent years. FOLAHANMI AINA, Doctoral Candidate in Leadership Studies, King's College London Today, the region has no fewer than seven insurgent groups scattered in six countries. The area stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean and encompasses a dozen countries. These include Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, The Gambia, Guinea, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal. Jihadi groups have taken advantage of a number of underlying conditions, which fuel local grievances across the Sahel. These include endemic…
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Abubakar Shekau: battle for supremacy among Islamist groups bodes ill for the Sahel

Abubakar Shekau: battle for supremacy among Islamist groups bodes ill for the Sahel

THE Nigerian military says it is investigating claims that the Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is dead. His death has not been independently confirmed. It is also not the first time a claim like this has been made. The reports have nevertheless raised questions about who has the upper hand in the region – Boko Haram or the breakaway Islamic State West Africa Province. Adejuwon Soyinka, The Conversation’s West Africa regional editor, asked Folahanmi Aina, an expert on Boko Haram and security in the Lake Chad Basin region, to analyse the security situation. FOLAHANMI AINA, Doctoral Candidate in Leadership Studies,…
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Algerian women push for more rights at Berber soccer tournament

Algerian women push for more rights at Berber soccer tournament

ALGERIAN women in bright Berber dress ululating, singing and beating drums at a soccer tournament last week were pushing their fight for gender equality - a cause that has come under greater scrutiny in Algeria after a brutal attack this month. The quiet cobbled village of Sahel was hosting the third annual competition between female teams in the mountainous Kabylie region to push for a bigger role for women in Algerian society. "Women before weren't free, weren't allowed to work outside of the house ... now we have rights, we can be lawyers, pilots, or do any other jobs, and…
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Chad fortifies troops against Sahel militants

Chad fortifies troops against Sahel militants

MADJIASRA NAKO and JOHN IRISH CHAD will deploy some 1,000 troops to the tri-border region of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali to reinforce national armies that, backed by French and European allies, are battling Islamist insurgents, according to French and Chadian sources. The deployment will be announced during a summit on February 15-16 in the Chadian capital N'Djamena held to tackle the situation in the Sahel, a French presidency official and a senior Chadian security official said. It comes as France, which sent troops to the region in 2013 to help repel jihadists who had occupied northern Mali, considers adjusting…
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Violence in West Africa’s Sahel displaces record two million people

Violence in West Africa’s Sahel displaces record two million people

THE number of people fleeing violence in West Africa's Sahel region has quadrupled in the past two years, with 2 million now displaced in their own countries, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR has announced. Militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have expanded their reach in the semi-arid region on the edge of the Sahara, stoking ethnic conflict in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger and forcing whole communities to flee their homes. More than half of those displaced within their own country are in Burkina Faso, where many are forced to sleep outside and do not have enough water,…
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Mali frees scores of jihadists amid speculations of prisoner swap

Mali frees scores of jihadists amid speculations of prisoner swap

AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER MALIAN authorities have released over one hundred alleged or convicted jihadists in a move which may facilitate the liberation of hostages.   The jihadists had been freed early Tuesday and over the week-end from prisons located in the centre and north of the country.  According to the Malian Association for Human Rights, they were held in detention centres in the town of Mopti and the capital, Bamako.  Reports indicate that the prisoners were flown into the central town of Niono and Tessalit, a town bordering Algeria.  According to Radio France International’s correspondent in Mali, witnesses saw them get…
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Inequality seen as a root cause of West Africa’s Sahel crisis

Inequality seen as a root cause of West Africa’s Sahel crisis

NELLIE PEYTON UNEQUAL access to wealth is one of the main causes of worsening violence in West Africa's Sahel, which has forced millions to flee their homes, according to conflict analysts. While Islamist groups are active in the troubled region, just south of the Sahara desert, the unrest is driven more by inequality than poverty or religious beliefs, found a study commissioned by the aid group Catholic Relief Services (CRS). "Community members are saying, 'We see people in the capital cities who have all this wealth but in these rural areas we don't have any of this'," said Patrick Williams,…
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