0.1458
766 776 6266
x

Terror in the Sahel

iasparliament Logo
June 11, 2021

What is the issue?

The recent massacre of at least 160 people in a border village in Burkina Faso is a grim reminder of the threat the Sahel region faces from Islamist terrorism.

What happened?

  • The attack took place in Solhan village, in the Sahel's Yagha province.
  • Nobody has claimed responsibility.
  • But Burkinabe authorities have named the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).
  • The ISGS has carried out hundreds of terror strikes in recent years.
  • The Burkina Faso attack (June 2021) occurred after 137 people were killed by jihadists in Niger, in March 2021.

What is the long-drawn security concern?

  • Burkina Faso saw its first major Islamist terrorist attack in 2015.
  • The security situation there has deteriorated steadily, especially along the borders with Niger and Mali.
  • This has been the case with much of the Sahel region, a 5,900-km-long semi-arid territory.
  • It has seen terrorist groups expanding their networks and stepping up attacks on civilians and soldiers.
  • In Nigeria, Islamists control swathes of territories.
  • They have carried out abductions and attacks, including gunning down 27 people in a village.
  • Mali has been fighting terror groups since 2013.

Which are the groups involved?   

  • Terror groups - Four main terror outfits operate in the region:
    1. the ISGS
    2. the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP)
    3. the Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, the local al-Qaeda branch in Mali
    4. Boko Haram
  • Of these, the ISGS and Jama’at Nasr are reportedly in alliance.
  • Their aim is to expand the influence in the Burkina-Mali-Niger border region.
  • They shoot down anyone in the region who does not declare their loyalty to the jihadists.
  • Boko Haram and the ISWAP are fighting each other but control territories in northeastern Nigeria.
  • States - France has deployed troops in the region for counter-insurgency operations.
  • It is being helped by the U.S., which has a drone base in Niger.

What is driving the tensions now?

  • The regime change policies of the U.S. and France are partly to be blamed for the problems the Sahel countries are facing today.
  • A NATO invasion removed Muammar Gaddafi from power in Libya in 2011.
  • Since then, the region lost a stable bulwark against militias and jihadists.
  • Libya, having fallen into anarchy and civil war, became a jihadist breeding ground.
  • When trouble spread to Mali, France made a military intervention in 2013.
  • But it did not defeat the insurgency, which spread beyond Mali’s borders.
  • Now, jihadists find safe havens in the lawless deserts of the Sahel.
  • The IS-militant infrastructure was destroyed in Iraq and Syria.
  • Soon, their foot soldiers fled to Africa, regrouping themselves in the region.

What is the way forward?

  • The recent attacks should serve as a warning to all stakeholders.
  • Major global powers, which worked together with regional players to defeat the IS in West Asia, should not stay away from the growing threat from Africa.
  • They should, along with the UN, help the Sahel countries build capacity and institutions, offer stable governance and adopt sustainable counter-insurgency strategies.

 

Source: The Hindu

Quick Fact

Sahel

  • Sahel is a semiarid region of western and north-central Africa stretching from Atlantic Ocean eastward, from Senegal to Sudan.
  • In between, it covers southern Mauritania, the great bend of the Niger River in Mali, Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta), southern Niger, northeastern Nigeria, south-central Chad.
  • It forms a transitional zone between the arid Sahara (desert) to the north and the belt of humid savannas to the south.
Login or Register to Post Comments
There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to review.

ARCHIVES

MONTH/YEARWISE ARCHIVES

Upsc Mains 2022