Also the eastern Sahel! PDF Print E-mail
Written by André Marie POUYA, Journaliste & Consultant   
Tuesday, 05 June 2018 10:47

The hollowness of the outcome of the international conference on Libya, organized by the United Nations and France on May 29 in Paris, does not suggest an immediate exit out of this hell. Indeed, the Prime Minister of the national unity government Fayez al-Sarraj, Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the eastern country strongman, the president of the House of Representatives, Aguila Salah, and that of the Council of State, Khaled al-Mechri, have just been able to sign a "commitment to work constructively with the UN to hold credible and peaceful elections on 10 December 2018 and to respect their outcome.



One of the signs of the weakness of the Paris meeting is that upon his return to his stronghold of Benghazi, Haftar has reinforced the siege of the city of Derna on the Egyptian-Libyan border.


Chad, Libya, Niger and Sudan


Since the end of 2011, Libya south and south-east have been sinking into lawlessness and armed conflicts, plunging the two areas into a spiral of daily chaos and anarchy. With, at the same time, internal and external ramifications, armed gangs, thrive there thanks to criminal activities: smuggling of migrants, drugs traffics, weapons trade and that is not mentioning all kinds of rackets and clandestine gold mining.


Three of Libya neighboring countries suffer particularly from that situation: Chad, Niger and Sudan. Their stability is extremely endangered. At the initiative of the Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou, the four countries ministers of Defense, Interior and Foreign Affairs, Chiefs of staff and Heads of Intelligence services met in Niamey on April 3, 2018. On the menu of that meeting is insecurity at their common borders.


The overflow of Colonel Gaddafi, in the wake of the Arab Spring, followed by his killing in October 2011, did not stop the conflicts from spilling over and feeding crises in neighboring countries, among others: Chad, Niger and Sudan.


For Niger, the return of "the Guide’s soldiers", these legionaries at the service of the ‘’Great Jamahiriya Revolution’’, was a first and huge challenge. Registering, disarming and reintegrating in the society the new comers, with national funds not earmarked in the regular budget, was a huge effort. Monitoring the various traffics between the two countries - people, vehicles, various goods, drugs, weapons, and so on - remains an arduous task.


That itinerant, diversified and long-lasting supermarket is a dangerous time bomb. Organized into networks, a number of people use them as their means of life. Thus the sustainability of that business is vital to them. To that end, recruitment strategies have been put in place, ranging from vehicle dealers to food sellers. Those involved also come together on the basis of community solidarity. The transnational aspect is something to keep in mind. The struggle between actors for the control of the chains which nourish these flows can sometimes be violent. A whole economy of traffic remains to be defined, in its manifestations and its bearings.


The two countries, Chad and Niger, also have in common a long history of internal rebellions, more or less supported by Colonel Gaddafi, then in antagonism with the United States, France and the Organization of African Unity (OAU), ancestor of the African Union (AU). A rivalry about the political alignment of the continent and other strategic issues.


The desert, which occupies two-thirds of the Nigerian territory, also characterizes its eastern neighbor. Niger and Chad are also facing the phenomenon of migration towards Europe. They are at the forefront of the fight against these population movements, overall commanded by the European Union and in particular by Italy, France and Germany.


In this respect, for a few months now, the two countries have been the seats for the Hots Spots or Migrant Cataloging Centers, a framework for a categorization process carried out by French officials. Finally, Niger and Chad bear the burden of attacks by the Nigerian Boko Haram sect. Niger and Chad devote a sizeable share of their GDP to security spending thus exhausting their already meagre social sectors funds. Among other consequences, workers demonstrations in the two countries' countries have a sure relation with armaments expenditures that have caused states budgets contested by the countries’ civil society, civil servants organizations as well as the oppositions’ political parties.


While Niger suffers from the decline in uranium prices, Chad is also affected by the fall of oil price, respectively their two main sources of revenues. The socio-political situation in each of the two neighboring countries can be considered under that specific priority given to their own security and that of the sub-region.


Trafficking in weapons, drugs, migrants...


It is worth remembering that Chad has sent its troops to the rescue of many countries in Central as well as in West Africa. The establishment of the G5 Sahel, which includes, in addition to the two countries, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania, could be presented to its members as both a military and a financial lifeline. Hope is also emerging in the fight against Boko Haram. In addition, Nigerien, Cameroonian, Chadian and Nigerian armed forces, grouped in another structure called Multinational Joint Force, are fighting the same plague.


As for Sudan, the country is a super performer in civil wars. From its independence, in 1956, to this day, that country has never known lasting peace! The explanations are very numerous:


- the North with its Arab-Muslim against its South with Christians and animists populations, but that is a somewhat simplistic approach;


- Arabs against blacks, according to the approach and thinking of a certain invalid ethnology;


- the Center (Khartoum, the capital) against the periphery (the other provinces), in the management and control of the country resources, according to a Marxist approach;


- to external analysts of oversized African leaders’ egos, all these crises could be summarized as uncontrolled quarrels between African leaders.


These fratricidal, barbaric and, to a large extent genocidal wars, led to the proclamation of independence of the State of South Sudan in 2011. However, that major development didn’t bring an end to the war. Among other reasons, part of that vast country is still evolving in an incoherent situation: the regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile are still failing and bare politico-administrative entities.


While the war continues in Darfur, the new South Sudan state was engulfed into a no less inhuman crisis: mass killings in the capital, Juba, as well as in rural areas, under the watchful eye of powerless UN peacekeepers. Meantime, engaged in a fight to the death for the control of power and the enjoyment of its privileges, the two leaders, President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his Vice President Riek Machar, have no mercy for their own people. The former will prevail over the latter, partly thanks to Ugandan troops, masters in the art of «upgrading economically the conflict zones", as they have, over time, shown in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and, most recently, in the Central African Republic.


All three countries admit to being threatened by Libya based criminal gang. Since 2011, the Libyan South and Southeast, have become a "real crossroads of drug routes to Asia via Egypt and to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea‘’. Also the hub for migrants and weapons smuggling, the area generates huge revenues that are spent to sustain other conflicts at home, whether in Mali, the Lake Chad Basin area and elsewhere.


Libya three southern neighbors signed a security cooperation agreement to fight against terrorism and trafficking with it on May 31, in N'Djamena, Chad. In addition, two co-ordinations mechanisms, one military and the other political, were established within that framework. Command will be rotating, and governments are also committed to cooperation in intelligence sharing. To facilitate the implementation of this whole agreement, the four countries urged their respective justice authorities to sign, within two months, cooperation agreements to allow extradition of offenders.


Equally disturbing developments do exist: armed movements of Chadian and Sudanese rebels groups have invested the area, with significant military means. They now are involved in Libya internal combats.


National or rather regional defense?


A sword of Damocles hangs over the four countries, but its radiance thrills far beyond them. Already fragilized due to the scarcity of resources, Boko Haram and other defiant terrorist groups attacks, the four countries run, in addition, the risk of these bands undertaking, in their respective areas, the conquest of the power.


It is to counter these threats that Libya, Niger, Sudan and Chad have decided to set up ‘’a cooperation mechanism for border security and the fight against transnational organized crime". That is weapons flows, human migrations, drugs trafficking, terrorism, violent banditry and armed groups engaged in mercenaries’ activities.


Once again, African states have realized that defense issues are, and contrary to the name of the ministries responsible for them, no longer national. Indeed, rather regional they are.


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 05 June 2018 10:56 )

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