In Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, civil society organizations (CSOs), opposition parties, as well as workers and students’ unions are increasingly protesting against foreign forces presence in their countries. These attitudes stem from several motivations: respect of the Independence spirit that had led the new States, such as Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) and Mali, to demand the departure of the French army from their territory and also the relative weak results of said foreign armies in their support to the fight against terrorism.
A number of the Sahel governments have their eyes fixed on the rearview mirror, wanting to know nothing of the present and even less of the future. Populist discourse with a haunting refrain – » it is the others’ fault » is recurrently condemning the international community action though not offering an alternative. A demagogy that does not serve the Sahel countries or the regimes themselves. A fresher and freed look is called for.
And what if the G5 Sahel countries difficulties were related to their borders management? This impression prevails when one looks at the conclusions of the recent G7 Summit, held in Biarritz, France, from 24 to 26 August 2019. By consensus, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and President Rock Marc Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso, have called for a redefinition of a « security perimeter », in the face of « the extension of the terrorist threat in the Sahel ».
In others words, the new security commitment would involve, in the G5 Sahel defense efforts, the Gulf of Guinea countries, including Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Will that be enough, to curtail the terrorist wave that inflicts so much suffering to the Sahel populations?
Under popular pressure, both Algeria and Sudan are in turmoil. But there is no compass for direction. In Algeria, what majority will replace the FLN (National Liberation Front) quasi-state? In Sudan, what political or military formation will succeed General Omar Hassan El Bashir semi-Islamist regime? In addition to domestic changes, these momentous upheavals will have impacts on the Maghreb region and also elsewhere, especially in the Sahel!
One week after the Ecowas Summit held in Abuja, Nigeria, the African Union should convene its annual Summit in Niamey, Niger, on 5 July. Presently, few other places could be more appropriate for this gathering than that capital located in the Sahel’s core. A Sahel that is often ‘’either a bond, a corridor or a barrier’’.