Sahel facing Security and Development Nexus PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 19 June 2017 21:27
The assault, this Sunday 18 June on a resort near Bamako is stark reminder:  insecurity is deepening and diversifying its roots throughout the Sahel Sahara. It calls for additional resources to combat it. At the same time, development efforts remain less attractive being primarily an ordinary priority.




 To help address an expanding crisis, the region and its international partners, especially France as its most visible one, should review the old linkages between security and development.


A deeply rooted crisis


It should be repeated again and over. The Sahel crisis is vast with multiple dimensions and calls for effective action from within and from outside.


While the G 5 Sahel and the Louptako Gourma groupings are coherent entities, their success depends primarily on more effective commitments to carry out difficult structural reforms. Similar commitments are also needed from all the states confronting Boko Haram around the Lake Chad area.


The Sahel crisis exasperating dimensions include security and development concerns. Among the first of them is governance, as well as environmental and humanitarian difficulties.


The region external partners cannot ignore the serious spillover risks including on their too far away countries. How could they contribute successfully?


Pervasive, the crisis also has perverse effects. In the field, press coverage, a sort of free publicity given to the fight against terrorism, translates into an appeal for recruitment to join radical groups. As a result, an increasingly larger number of youth, from various segments of the societies is involved in or affected by the crisis. A combination of a weak political governance, strong demography, outdated educational systems and fragile agricultural productivity strengthen radical groups appeal.


Throughout the Sahel, effective reforms for short term activities and for long terms programs are long overdue. In response, there should be a consensus on a top priority: combating radical groups and their allies. With that priority, the first internal reforms should take place in two crucial areas: education and agriculture.


The modernization of the education programs should be the main objective. Internationally competitive systems, especially in sciences and technologies, cannot continue to be ignored. In that connection, girls’ education should be a national priority.


Like education, agriculture needs a whole integrated strategy to increase productivity, introduce new products as well as building infrastructures connecting production areas to cities’ consumers. There is also the need to free the movements of peoples and goods with lesser money motivated roads controls.


In most of the region societies, internet and the social Medias are powerful vehicles for terrorism propaganda, offering a formal cover to its message. Local believes in prints is so deeply rooted that extremist groups’ propaganda appears as a call for Justice.

That official religious cover is strengthened by the appearance of terrorist groups’ actions as a genuine fight against a corrupt national leadership and an often silent international community.


While these claims are over exaggerated, many are convinced that the future is on the side of the radical model. A model they want to impose with their guns, bombs and other extremist means.


A reemerging old dilemma.


Over time, development efforts should minimize the causes of insecurity and ensure development and stability. However, development would not come overnight to generate resources and revenues. Therefore, appropriate external assistance are required to address security and development needs.


That is where the dilemma lies: there is no development without security and indeed no security without development.


Over the last 5 years, international community – United Nations, European Union, USA - response has been coming with Strategies, and in fact many of them. Excellent on paper, they however are often overlapping and not harmonized in the field, a consequence of their different political and legal mandates. They could hardly meet their goals. Even with sufficient funding, they generally end up bogged down in administrative and diplomatic entanglements at both ends. However, they bring an advantage, their capacity to keep governments focused.


Beyond the various strategies, what is now most called for is their successful implementation. That calls for discipline through a coherent approach under the auspices of an agreed on Lead Actor  (organization or an individual). Without an agreement on the implementation, there will often be a vacuum in which the terrorists, their silent partners and other sympathizers will operate with some success. That is where we now are.


Furthermore, a number of the Sahel governments have a tendency to behave as did their predecessors during the Cold War. That means to be shopping for international support against an identified threat while not addressing the real root causes of the crises. Partners should not forget that dark period when credibility, time and money were lost. Increased importance is to be given to good governance including within the whole security apparatus.


Beyond their similarities, the Sahel crises including Lake Chad area and southern Libya – should not be treated in the same manner. Feeding one another, each has however its own personality and should be approached accordingly.


Traffic and trafficking in drugs, cigarettes and migrants, within and across the Sahel, is not the same as the one around the Lake Chad area. Indeed, a few bridges, including organized crime in Europe, facilitate connectivity and cooperation between those operating in the two sub regions.


Today, security in the Sahel is addressed by a number of forces that include countries armies and foreign troupes (Minusma or the UN troupes and Barkhane, the French anti insurgent force). Special Forces from western countries including Germany and the USA give a determinant hand.


 In the field, military success calls armies that are motivated, representative of their societies and nations, well trained and truly professional. In other words, not armies of a regime, a clan or a region but of a State.


During the ongoing crisis, security forces should also cooperate more closely with Customs services to help minimize illegal trade and other traffics that fuels insecurity.


Furthermore, to combat a resilient enemy there is an obligation to have stronger political bases. Therefore, Sahel governments need to enlarge their political basis in forming large political coalitions or fronts. Governing alone cannot do it.


Overall, the nexus security development is a reality. Still, addressing only short terms issues - terrorism - leave untouched the countries instable structures. Hence, the crisis may become softer for a while but its roots will regenerate much sooner and with more strength for a new round of much bloodier violence.





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