Tag Archives: Niger

The region in Niger quietly piloting a Boko Haram amnesty

African Arguments

Diffa region, Boko Haram amnesty

The bold experiment is proving attractive, but comes fraught with dangers.

In mid-December 2016, in rural Diffa region on Niger’s southern border with Nigeria, fourteen men gave themselves up to authorities. The group said that they were former fighters of Boko Haram and that they had abandoned their weapons in the bush.

News of this impromptu surrender from the Islamist militant group responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and millions of displacements came as a surprise to most in the area. But not to regional authorities.

Since late last year, they had been quietly testing a tactic of asking families whose children have joined Boko Haram to spread word of an amnesty. If they surrendered, fighters were told, they would be pardoned and assisted in rejoining their communities.

Before then, the main regional response to the brutal Islamist militant group had been military. This has had some successes in weakening the combatants, and the last major Boko Haram attack in Niger in which civilians were killed was in September 2016. But in Nigeria, where the group originated, and beyond, gruesome assaults, abductions, and bombings of schools and markets continued.

To those in Diffa, these attacks have been shocking. But more distressing to many has been the rate of voluntary conscription amongst Niger’s youth. Imams and village chiefs return to one question: “What about this savagery is attractive to our young?” Families and leaders tussle with this issue, but many simply refuse to countenance that those who join Boko Haram from Niger are truly radicalised.

It was with this belief in mind – as well as an awareness of the limits of a ground war – that the experimental amnesty plan was hatched last year. The exact details of the “secret messaging” campaign are unclear, but local leaders express pride in their initiative, which they say is ongoing, and follow it closely.

As the prefect of Maïné-Soroa told me, “Governor [of Diffa Region] Dan Dano calls every night to ask how many Boko have surrendered.”

As of late-March, the number stood at nearly 150 across Diffa.

Planning ahead

In terms of numbers, the amnesty scheme has so far proven to be effective. The logic behind it is also clear. Uganda’s use of a similar strategy to entice defections from the Lord’s Resistance Army in the early-2000s is widely believed to have weakened rebel ranks. And Diffa’s experiment comes at a time when Boko Haram is already facing factional splintering and other difficulties.

[Making sense of Boko Haram’s different factions: Who, how and why?]

As a locally-designed and -executed initiative, it is also impressive and promising. Often when disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) schemes are implemented, they are imported internationally with little local ownership. But this is not the case with Diffa, and other regions facing the same problem are watching the bold experiment closely.

However, while local leaders are buoyed by progress so far, not everyone is convinced.

Some believe that the policy is a distraction from tackling the longer-term push factors – such as poverty and a weak state – that lead youth to join Boko Haram in the first place. Meanwhile others worry that funds from other more widely beneficial development projects will be re-directed to rehabilitating former combatants.

As Niger’s Minister of Justice Marou Amadou says of ex-Boko Haram fighters, “it costs us money to house them, to feed them”.

For his part, Governor Dano says he is not yet seeking funds to help manage the growing caseload. His intent is to pilot the idea and, if it proves tenable, to seek support where it is needed. But this more reactive approach also brings with it certain risks.

At present, anticipated needs only cover the Goudoumaria reintegration centre where vocational training and de-radicalisation programmes are to take place over a two-year period. As in combatant DDR programmes elsewhere, external partners will be involved.

However, if defector numbers spike with no clear plan or resources already in place, the programme could stall. Frustrations could escalate and deserters may revolt or even re-mobilise. This has happened in many other DDR programmes where logistics and planning were slow or inadequate.

Local suspicion

Another serious challenge to the amnesty comes from the fact that, at a grassroots level, many local communities in Niger are not yet on board with the idea. They view the deserters with suspicion and hostility.

Unlike in Uganda, there is currently no legal framework for Diffa’s amnesty initiative, meaning there is no official process by which ex-combatants can gain legal status as pardoned deserters. Moreover, some worry that those surrendering are being planted by Boko Haram.

Dano concedes that processing the defectors will take time, but insists there are measures in place to determine threat levels.

“We cross-reference their stories, their claim to a certain village and family, by visiting those places and confirming details. We try to learn more about them, when they left and if witnesses saw them attacking villages here,” he says. He also suggests that those who are genuinely radicalised will simply ignore the offer of an amnesty.

In order to drive support for the initiative, Dano along with local prefects and leaders have been appearing before the public. But from all reports, these are purely declaratory rather than responsive exercises.

This could pose a serious problem. If local leadership fails to convince the population, it could undermine the whole endeavour. After all, it is ultimately victims – more so than ex-combatants or state officials – whose buy-in is essential for an amnesty to be effective. For reconciliation and reinsertion of former fighters to be possible, communities must be prepared to accept them back into their lives.

Yet there are currently no participatory approaches being adopted to more closely involve communities, and many simply see the amnesty as impunity. Furthermore, popular sentiment may harden as word spreads that deserters could be rewarded with vocational training and livelihoods assistance while innocent, traumatised communities get nothing.

“We think we are diminishing the ranks of BH with this amnesty effort, but now what are we doing with the defectors?” asks Minister Amadou. “We aren’t prosecuting them – none of this is good for us.”

The price of peace?

The challenges and risks of Diffa’s pilot amnesty are thus clear to see. Trying to pardon and rehabilitate former fighters under volatile and uncertain circumstances comes fraught with dangers, especially if the initiatives are not carefully and thoroughly financed and planned.

Meanwhile, if local communities remain resistant to the idea, the policy could result in deepening resentment, hostility and suspicion.

However, as Boko Haram continues to terrorise Niger and the Lake Chad region, local authorities insist that the risks of continuing with a predominantly military approach are similarly grave.

“We cannot become Nigeria”, says Dano.

Fighting Boko Haram may involve policies that are controversial to begin with, say local leaders, but they are ultimately necessary.

Asked how he justifies pardoning former Boko Haram militants and spending scarce funds on their rehabilitation to those in Diffa, the Maïné-Soroa prefect sighs. “I tell them such is the price we have to pay for peace”.

Niger – former presidential candidate sentenced for baby trafficking

Reuters

NIAMEY Niger’s appeals court on Monday sentenced an exiled former presidential candidate to a year in jail for child trafficking, the final ruling in a long-running case that his lawyers have dismissed as politically motivated.

Hama Amadou, the main challenger to President Mahamadou Issoufou in last year’s presidential election, has been living in France since last year when he left Niger for health reasons just days before a run-off.

He has repeatedly denied charges that he and his wife were part of a plot, including several others, to falsely claim the parenthood of around 30 children from neighbouring Nigeria who were to be sold on to wealthy couples in Niger.

The verdict was read in the absence of Amadou’s lawyers, who had boycotted the trial in protest. The case was initially dropped by a Niger court in 2015, but was reinstated by the appeals court later in the year.

Issoufou took power in April 2011, and has worked closely with Western nations to boost security in the vast, arid Sahel region where Islamist militants are intensifying their insurgency.

(Reporting by Boureima Balima; Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Alison Williams)

Chad’s Deby says Sahel states planning counter-terrorism force

BBC

Soldiers stand near caskets at a funeral ceremony for victims of January 18 suicide bomb attack that ripped through a camp grouping former rebels and pro-government militia in Gao, in the troubled northern Mali, on January 20, 2017 in GaoAFP More than 70 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack in Gao, Northern Mali, last month

Five countries in Africa’s Sahel region have agreed to set up a joint counter-terrorism force to tackle the jihadist threat.

Leaders from Mali, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania made the announcement at a summit in Bamako.

Chad’s President Idriss Deby said the members of the G5 group were on the “frontline against terrorism”.

Their meeting followed an attack last month near the Malian city of Gao which killed nearly 80 people.

The suicide bombing was the worst attack in the region for years.

Few details were given about the proposed force’s size or where it would be based.

UN Security Council approval and a UN resolution would be requested before the force could be set up, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou said.

The countries will seek European funding, according to Mr Deby, who said the new force would “save” European soldiers’ lives at a time when the terror threat appeared to be growing.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali consists of 12,000 troops, including hundreds of Europeans. Seventy people have died in the operation, which is one of the UN’s most dangerous in decades.

More than 3,000 French troops are also deployed in the region, having intervened in Mali in 2013.

The Sahel is home to many Islamist groups, some aligned with al-Qaeda.

Al-Mourabitoun, a group linked to al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate, claimed responsibility for last month’s bombing in Gao.

Other attacks targeting tourists occurred in Mali, Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast in late 2015 and last year.

An internal G5 document describes northern Mali as a “known hideout for terrorists” and a “launch pad for attacks against other countries”, the AFP news agency reports.

Nigeria – suffering in Lake Chad region leads mothers to sell sex to survive, says Red Cross

Premium Times

IDPs

IDPs

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday said women in the Lake Chad basin had been forced to prostitute to survive.

ICRC attributed it to an insurgency by Boko Haram fighters that had driven millions from their homes and left children to starve.

The violence has displaced over 2.4 million people across the swamp lands of Lake Chad, where the borders of Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria meet, and disrupted the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of others,’’ ICRC said.

According to the United Nations, up to a million people have been cut off from humanitarian aid by Boko Haram in spite of a regional military offensive against the Islamist militants.

“It’s extraordinary to see a woman and her family and they have nothing other than what they have been given.

“The children are clearly malnourished and it’s just hopeless,’’ Simon Brooks, head of ICRC’s delegation in Cameroon, said.

According to Brooks, as the head of their households, some mothers have been forced to prostitute so they could feed their family, since many no longer have husbands because of the conflict.

“When you don’t have the means to survive, you’ll go begging for it.

“It’s a loss of dignity when you’re having to resort to something like that just to keep your children alive – fraternising with people who have money,’’ he said.

The unfolding catastrophe in the Lake Chad basin was named the most neglected crisis of 2016 in a poll of aid agencies by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Overshadowed by the wars in Syria and Iraq and the global refugee and migrant crisis, Lake Chad has barely made the headlines,’’ Brooks said during an interview in London.

Report says over 7 million people lack food but insecurity makes it hard for aid agencies to reach the most vulnerable.

“Half a million children are severely acutely malnourished and on the brink of death if they are not treated.

“This area has suffered from decades of chronic neglect … if it continues to be under-funded and under-reported, then millions of people will continue to suffer,’’ Brooks said. (Reuters/NAN)

Why it’s not all about security as West beefs up military in Africa’s Sahel

The Conversation

A French soldier involved in Operation Barkhane to keep Al Qaeda at bay in the desert of northern Mali patrols a street in Timbuktu. Joe Penney/Reuters

Over the past few weeks the United States and France have pledged considerable extra funds to strengthening their military presence in Africa’s Sahel region – a narrow, arid band of land stretching across the continent from west to east just south of the Sahara desert. This has been prompted by growing Western fears of destabilisation. There has been concern that Islamist groups were establishing themselves in the vast spaces between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea.

Washington and Paris have promised to help bolster the security of allied governments from Mali in the west to Djibouti in the east. Most of these countries have porous borders and suffer internal security problems or conflicts.

Mali, for example, has endured a long-running civil war fuelled by the return of armed fighters from Libya after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. These fighters launched a separatist struggle that was quickly hijacked by Islamist movements like Ansare Dine and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Niger on the other hand has become embroiled, along with Cameroon and Chad, in Nigeria’s war against the Boko Haram terrorist group. Other conflicts continue in the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Darfur in Sudan.

France has had a considerable military role in West and Central Africa, long after it’s colonial role ended in the early 1960s. Its military seeks to protect friendly governments and to defend longstanding French economic interests. These interests include particularly Niger’s uranium.

The US, in a less overt manner, has a surprisingly widespread military presence in Africa. This has increased in recent years with growing instability in the Sahel region. America is now taking a more overt approach with more basing facilities as well as surveillance and training missions. This includes supporting friendly states and establishing a stronger combat-capable presence.

But Western interest in the Sahel region is not merely about security. It has also been linked by some to the West’s desire to protect vital natural resources such as oil, gas and uranium. The geographer and Africa specialist, Padraig Carmody, has called this a new scramble for Africa.

Global chessboard of the 21st century

The arid, desert or semi-desert belt across the Sahel has been described as “a key territory on the global chessboard of the 21st century”. It is not just the security that is at stake but also the natural resource value of the region to the West, China and Japan.

Algeria has major oil and gas resources, Niger supplies uranium for France’s nuclear programmes and Chad is now an oil producer. There are believed to be untapped oil and gas fields in Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

Former US Ambassador to Nigeria and South Africa and Special Envoy to Sudan, Princeton Lyman, has pointed out that the West and China are competing fiercely for access to Africa’s mineral resources and for both political influence and commercial advantage.

It comes as no surprise that both China and Japan have recently increased their naval presence in the Horn of Africa. The naval facilities being established in Djibouti are ostensibly to combat piracy along the Indian Ocean littoral. But they have clear elements of a scramble for a major presence in Africa, at a time of competition over access to Africa’s mineral resources.

As the Washington Post has pointedly observed, US’s growing presence and role in Niger covering what has previously been seen as mainly a French area of interest and influence is a significant strategic move.

Gaddafi aftershocks still being felt

The US is also spending a considerable sum on developing a military base at Agadez in central Niger. From here drones could be launched for surveillance or combat missions across the Sahel and as far north as Libya.

The base would add to the existing US presence in Niger. It already shares facilities in the capital Niamey with French forces engaged in Operations Barkhane against Islamist insurgent groups in Mali. It also provides intelligence on Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria, Niger, Chad and northern Cameroon to the governments of those states.

Prof Tony Chafer of Portsmouth University has pointed out that the heightened Western fear for stability and strategic resources in North and West Africa has led to unprecedented US-French cooperation. The two are working together in combating perceived enemies in the region and cooperating to strengthen the military capabilities of countries like Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Mali.

The cooperation has developed gradually since the early 2000s. But the exodus of experienced and well-armed fightersfrom post-Gaddafi Libya into the region triggered a shock wave.

French deployments have been bolstered with over 3,000 troops spread across the region. They are engaged with Islamist groups in Mali and backing UN efforts to keep the peace between violent factions in the Central African Republic. The French government has said its presence will be reduced to 300 troops by the end of the year.

History of Western intervention

There is a history of Western security interventions in a region where rebel or Islamist groups are still active. The groups, such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), pose a serious security threat in a number of countries. The list of active groups also includes Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), Ansar Dine and Boko Haram.

Up until now, US military facilities in Africa have always fallen short of being US bases. No country in Africa has been willing to host the US military command for Africa, Africom, and it has had to locate its HQ in Stuttgart in Germany.

But in 2015, the commander of Africom, General David Rodriguez, admitted that in addition to Djibouti, America had 11 “cooperative security locations” in sub-Saharan Africa. These had been upgraded in the years since 9/11. Yet this is not the full story. US forces have access to more than 60 outposts of various sorts from secure warehouses for equipment to surveillance bases, fuel depots, training camps and port facilities in 34 African states.

The pro-Western governments are willing to accept Western assistance. This is largely because of the huge territories they need to police and the small armies they are able to maintain. This is not to mention a paucity of advanced aircraft, drones and other surveillance equipment. Mali, for example, has only 7,500 military personnel, 15 aircraft and nine helicopters but its land area is a massive 1,240,192 square kilometres.

 

<h1>Why it’s not all about security as West beefs up military in Africa’s Sahel</h1>

<span><a href=”https://theconversation.com/profiles/keith-somerville-275605″>Keith Somerville</a>, <em><a href=”http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-kent-1248″>University of Kent</a></em></span>

<p>Over the past few weeks the United States and France have pledged <a href=”http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-france-africa-security-idUKKCN1272I2″>considerable extra funds</a> to strengthening their military presence in <a href=”http://www.pbs.org/wnet/africa/explore/sahel/sahel_overview_lo.html”>Africa’s Sahel region</a> – a narrow, arid band of land stretching across the continent from west to east just south of the Sahara desert. This has been prompted by growing Western fears of destabilisation. There has been concern that Islamist groups were <a href=”http://www.westafricasecuritynetwork.org/the-french-military-in-africa-successes-challenges-ahead/”>establishing</a&gt; themselves in the vast spaces between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea.</p>

<p>Washington and Paris have promised to help bolster the security of allied governments from Mali in the west to Djibouti in the east. Most of these countries have <a href=”http://africanarguments.org/2013/02/12/africa%E2%80%99s-borders-porous-unprotected-and-blocking-trade-and-economic-development-by-keith-somerville/”>porous borders</a> and suffer internal security problems or conflicts. </p>

<p><a href=”http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/11/mali-hotel-hostage-crisis/417021/”>Mali</a&gt;, for example, has endured a long-running civil war fuelled by the return of armed fighters from Libya after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. These fighters launched a separatist struggle that was quickly hijacked by Islamist movements like Ansare Dine and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. </p>

<p>Niger on the other hand has become embroiled, along with Cameroon and Chad, in Nigeria’s<a href=”https://africacheck.org/factsheets/factsheet-explaining-nigerias-boko-haram-and-its-violent-insurgency/”&gt; war against the Boko Haram</a> terrorist group. Other conflicts continue in the <a href=”http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13150040″>Central African Republic</a>, <a href=”http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14069082″>South Sudan</a> and <a href=”http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p048n31r”>Darfur</a&gt; in <a href=”http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14094995″>Sudan</a&gt;. </p>

<p>France has had a considerable military role in West and Central Africa, long after it’s colonial role ended in the early 1960s. Its military seeks to protect friendly governments and to defend longstanding French economic interests. These interests include particularly Niger’s uranium. </p>

<p>The US, in a less overt manner, has a surprisingly widespread military presence in Africa. This has <a href=”http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/africom.htm”>increased</a&gt; in recent years with growing instability in the Sahel region. America is now taking a more overt approach with more basing facilities as well as surveillance and training missions. This includes supporting friendly states and establishing a stronger combat-capable presence. </p>

<p>But Western interest in the Sahel region is not merely about security. It has also been <a href=”http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/specialseries/2016/10/shadow-war-sahara-161009025023817.html”>linked by some</a> to the West’s desire to protect vital natural resources such as oil, gas and uranium. The geographer and Africa specialist, Padraig Carmody, has called this a <a href=”http://africanbusinessmagazine.com/uncategorised/padraig-carmody-the-new-scramble-for-africa/”>new scramble for Africa</a>.</p>

<h2>Global chessboard of the 21st century</h2>

<p>The arid, desert or semi-desert belt across the Sahel has been described as “a <a href=”http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/specialseries/2016/10/shadow-war-sahara-161009025023817.html”>key territory</a> on the global chessboard of the 21st century”. It is not just the security that is at stake but also the natural resource value of the region to the West, China and Japan. </p>

<p>Algeria has major oil and gas resources, Niger supplies uranium for France’s nuclear programmes and Chad is now an oil producer. There are believed to be <a href=”https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6gvWAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA178&lpg=PA178&dq=Sahel+oil+and+gas&source=bl&ots=Mo_JDuo4DM&sig=yEhB9ECSgWPrZFmLwAxuE-tPoSE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiWjajYi_bPAhVDBsAKHf77A8AQ6AEIQjAH#v=onepage&q=Sahel%20oil%20and%20gas&f=false”>untapped</a&gt; oil and gas fields in Mali, Mauritania and Niger.</p>

<p>Former US Ambassador to Nigeria and South Africa and Special Envoy to Sudan, Princeton Lyman, has pointed out that the West and China are <a href=”http://www.cfr.org/content/thinktank/ChinaandUS_Africa.pdf”>competing fiercely</a> for access to Africa’s mineral resources and for both political influence and commercial advantage.</p>

<p>It comes as no surprise that both China and Japan have recently increased their naval presence in the Horn of Africa. The naval facilities being established in Djibouti are ostensibly to combat piracy along the Indian Ocean littoral. But they have clear elements of a <a href=”http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-military-djibouti-idUSKCN12D0C4″>scramble</a&gt; for a major presence in Africa, at a time of competition over access to Africa’s mineral resources.</p>

<p>As the Washington Post has pointedly observed, US’s growing presence and role in Niger covering what has previously been seen as mainly a French area of interest and influence is a <a href=”https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/pentagon-set-to-open-second-drone-base-in-niger-as-it-expands-operations-in-africa/2014/08/31/365489c4-2eb8-11e4-994d-202962a9150c_story.html”>significant</a&gt; strategic move.</p>

<h2>Gaddafi aftershocks still being felt</h2>

<p>The US is also spending a <a href=”http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-37515551″>considerable sum</a> on developing a military base at Agadez in central Niger. From here drones could be launched for surveillance or combat missions across the Sahel and as far north as Libya. </p>

<p>The base would add to the existing US presence in Niger. It already shares facilities in the capital Niamey with French forces engaged in <a href=”https://southfront.org/french-anti-terror-efforts-in-africas-sahel-region/”>Operations Barkhane</a> against Islamist insurgent groups in Mali. It also provides intelligence on Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria, Niger, Chad and northern Cameroon to the governments of those states.</p>

<p>Prof Tony Chafer of Portsmouth University has <a href=”http://www.westafricasecuritynetwork.org/the-french-military-in-africa-successes-challenges-ahead/”>pointed out</a> that the heightened Western fear for stability and strategic resources in North and West Africa has led to unprecedented US-French cooperation. The two are working together in combating perceived enemies in the region and cooperating to strengthen the military capabilities of countries like Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Mali.</p>

<p>The cooperation has developed gradually since the early 2000s. But the exodus of experienced and <a href=”http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17582909″>well-armed fighters</a> from post-Gaddafi Libya into the region triggered a shock wave.</p>

<p>French deployments have been bolstered with over 3,000 troops spread across the region. They are engaged with Islamist groups in Mali and backing UN efforts to keep the peace between violent factions in the Central African Republic. The French government has said its presence will be <a href=”http://www.france24.com/en/20160330-france-end-military-operations-central-african-republic”>reduced to 300 troops</a> by the end of the year.</p>

<h2>History of Western intervention</h2>

<p>There is a history of Western security interventions in a region where rebel or Islamist groups are still active. The groups, such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), pose a serious security threat in a number of countries. The list of active groups also includes Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), Ansar Dine and Boko Haram. </p>

<p>Up until now, US military facilities in Africa have always fallen short of being US bases. No country in Africa has been willing to host the US military command for Africa, <a href=”http://www.africom.mil/”>Africom</a&gt;, and it has had to locate its HQ in Stuttgart in Germany.</p>

<p>But in 2015, the commander of Africom, General David Rodriguez, admitted that in addition to Djibouti, America had 11 <a href=”https://www.thenation.com/article/the-us-militarys-best-kept-secret/”>“cooperative security locations”</a> in sub-Saharan Africa. These had been upgraded in the years since 9/11. Yet this is not the full story. US forces have access to more than 60 outposts of various sorts from secure warehouses for equipment to surveillance bases, fuel depots, training camps and port facilities in 34 African states.</p>

<p>The pro-Western governments are willing to accept Western assistance. This is largely because of the huge territories they need to police and the small armies they are able to maintain. This is not to mention a paucity of advanced aircraft, drones and other surveillance equipment. Mali, <a href=”http://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail.asp?country_id=mali”>for example</a>, has only 7,500 military personnel, 15 aircraft and nine helicopters but its land area is a massive 1,240,192 square kilometres.</p>

<img src=”https://counter.theconversation.edu.au/content/67312/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic&#8221; alt=”The Conversation” width=”1″ height=”1″ />

<p><span><a href=”https://theconversation.com/profiles/keith-somerville-275605″>Keith Somerville</a>, Visiting Professor, <em><a href=”http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-kent-1248″>University of Kent</a></em></span></p>

<p>This article was originally published on <a href=”http://theconversation.com”>The Conversation</a>. Read the <a href=”https://theconversation.com/why-its-not-all-about-security-as-west-beefs-up-military-in-africas-sahel-67312″>original article</a>.</p>

France to invest $47m in Sahel counter-terrorism training

Reuters

France to invest $47 million in Sahel counter-terror training

By Emma Farge | DAKAR

France plans to invest 42 million euros ($47 million) to help countries of Africa’s Sahel region prepare to face jihadist attacks similar to those that killed dozens in Paris in 2015, an interior ministry official said on Friday.

The Sahel, a politically fragile region whose remote desert spaces host a medley of jihadist groups, is seen as vulnerable to further attacks after strikes on soft targets in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast earlier this year.

Nearby Senegal, a Western security partner with a long history of stability, has so far been spared.

“In future we will train all the countries of the G5 Sahel and Senegal with 42 million Euros in financing, including 24 million Euros for equipment,” said a spokeswoman for Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve during his visit to Dakar on Friday.

G5 Sahel is a regional security organisation composed of Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania. The investment period is 2017-2022, the spokeswoman added.

French riot control officers from the CRS are currently in Senegal for a month training Senegalese police forces to combat urban attacks on soft targets ahead of the broader programme.

In the simulation exercise watched by Cazeneuve as well as army elites and foreign diplomats, Senegalese police arrived swiftly on the scene after masked jihadists killed three students before holing up with hostages inside a university bus.

The jihadists were killed and the remaining hostages released and given medical treatment in the drill.

“We have reinforced police cooperation so that the first ones on the scene, the specialised forces, can intervene in case of mass murder with a highly efficient response,” said Cazeneuve in a speech shortly after the demonstration.

Former colonial power France retains a military presence in Senegal with 350 soldiers. A much larger force of 3,500 is spread across Chad, Mauritania, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso to hunt down jihadists.

Senegal’s ally the United States has also boosted military cooperation with the country and this year signed a cooperation agreement to ease the deployment of American troops there.

(Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Niger- clash with Boko Haram leaves 5 soldiers and 30 militants dead

Reuters

Thirty members of Boko Haram and five Nigerian soldiers have been killed in fighting in the southeastern Diffa region of Niger, the defence ministry said in a statement late on Tuesday.

The clash took place Monday near the village of Toumour, near Lake Chad and the Nigerian border, an area that has plagued by violence from the Islamist militant group and is under an extended state of emergency.

Boko Haram took the nearby town of Bosso in early June, in an attack that killed 32 soldiers and was the deadliest Boko Haram assault in Niger since April 2015. Since then, Chad has sent troops to help Niger wage a counterattack.

Fighting began on Monday morning when the army fell into an ambush, the statement said, adding that six soldiers were also injured and two militants were captured.

“The Boko Haram fighters were trying to prevent people from praying to mark the feast of sacrifice,” said Laouan Boukar, a resident of Toumour, referring to the important Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha that was on Monday.

Boko Haram has been trying to establish an Islamic state adhering to strict Sharia law in northeastern Nigeria since 2009. About 2.1 million people have been displaced and thousands have been killed during the insurgency.

(Reporting by Boureima Balima; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)