Prepared by the researcher : Abdel Rahman Shoaib, Algeria
Democratic Arabic Center
Journal of extremism and armed groups : Twelfth Issue – August 2023
A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin
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The African Sahel is one of the most vulnerable regions worldwide. In this context, it faces new threats, rather than those that threatened its states during the Cold War, such as marginalization, ethnicity, frontiers, and the external enemy in the light of the dominance of a conflicting Western-Eastern ideological thought. In addition, the current era brought about new security threats, mainly after 09/11 events, known as the asymmetric security threats that go with the changes the world witnesses. These threats are characterized with totalitarianism, global, and the difficulty of control. In this regard, terrorism ranks at the top of these changes that drained the African Sahel due to the sharp repercussions that increased owing to globalization that facilitated the extension of the terrorist creed and propaganda. The coast countries have tried to contain terrorist threats by formulating a set of policies and strategies to stop the insecurity or curb the threat of terrorism in the region. Similar to the group of five countries, which we will address as one of the experiments, and the study includes analyzing the content of the initiative and how to implement it. The refore, the focus of this study will be on the question that revolves around: What is the essence of terrorist threats in the Sahel region? And did the 5G initiatives contribute to reducing the threat of terrorism in the region?
After the Cold War, the world order witnessed deep transformations on many levels, mainly the established norms and values, due to a change in the nature of security threats in the post Cold War era and the emergence of new asymmetric factors that affected the conventional concept of security, mainly after 09/11 events. In this vein, terrorism is one of these asymmetric factors that increased thanks to globalization and ICTs. Hence, the threats perpetuators started looking for shelters to promote their activities and set their minds on the regions where the state is unable to perform its basic tasks regarding security and domestic stability. The region of the African Sahel had been witnessing a considerable rise of terrorism due to the horizontal variations, poverty, climate change, and other factors. Nevertheless, the inability of the states to exercise their sovereign tasks, the corrupt regimes, and the ethnical or religious struggles over power are the most important factors that paved the way and created the suitable environment for terrorism expansion.
Security chaos and instability in the Sahel region of Africa prompted the Sahel countries to rebuild security and political strategies in line with security developments and changes in the region. Accordingly, the main focus of this research is to investigate the effectiveness of the policies and strategies and to find out if these policies and strategies have been successfully implemented or the security (G5s) pursued by the five Sahel countries if modifications are necessary.
This paper uses the deductive analytical method through analyzing the concepts of terrorism used in modern literature that was unable to interpret the phenomena of violence and extremist in general, and terrorism in particular; mainly when it comes to the underdeveloped states such as those of the African Sahel. Then, the paper attempts to identify the concept of terrorism that differs from one state to another and sheds light on the most important terrorist groups in the region under study, the development of terrorism, and its ramifications on the whole region. Besides, the study uses the historical method to provide a historical study for the phenomenon of terrorism in the African Sahel, its aspects, its development through time, and the specific historical phases. Therefore, our study aims at knowing the conceptual context of terrorism, the most important terrorist groups in the region of the African Sahel, and its repercussions on its states, And the study of the security policies and strategies of the G5 Sahel countries against terrorism. Based on what has been said we find ourselves obliged to grapple with the following problematic “To what extent can we consider terrorism a serious threat to the African Sahel countries in light of the efforts of the five Sahel countries (G5s) to combat it?”. From this problematic, sub-questions arise as follows:
- What is meant by terrorism?
- What are the contexts of the development of terrorism in the region of the African Sahel?
- What are the most important terrorist groups in the region of the African Sahel?
- How did terrorism affect the region of the African Sahel?
- What is the content of the strategy of the five Sahel countries against terrorism?
To answer these questions, we hypothesize that:
- The expansion and rise of the terrorist threats in the region of the African Sahel brings about negative consequences on the security and stability of the region.
- The study assumes that the security policies and strategies pursued by the five Sahel countries are ineffective in stopping insecurity or curbing the threat of terrorism in the region.
Axis one: theoretical background of terrorism in the African Sahel:
- The concept of terrorism:
The term differs regarding the conceptual frame from one region to another and from one state to another due to various factors, mainly:
- A problem at the level of theorization linked to the concepts and terms:
- There is no agreement between the researchers regarding the term due to the cultural diversity related to the interpretation of the terrorist acts.
- There is an overlap between the concept of terrorism and other related concepts.
- The term triggers for the first glance a judgment that includes refusal of the terrorist actions.
- The term implies a dynamic concept, not a static one, and its forms and aims differ from one state to another.
- There is no theoretical ground at the level of the scientific theory to identify this term.
- There is neither objectivity nor neutrality in the analysis of the phenomenon as there are no neutral theoretical and scientific determinants of terrorism.
- Most of the used methods are descriptive. Thus, there are no basic methods devoted for the study of this phenomenon.
In this regard, Oxford Dictionary defines terrorism as “the use of a violent action in order to achieve political aims or to force a government to act”. Besides, the word terrorist generally refers to a person who tries to support his views with intimidation or coercion. On the other hand, the political encyclopedia defines terrorism as any illegal use of violence or intimidation with all its various types such as kidnapping, torture, and vandalism to achieve a specific political objective such as breaking resistance and commitment of individuals and thwarting organizations and intuitions. In a broader term, it is the use of coercion against any opponent part.
At the level of organizations, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime defined terrorism saying:
“terrorism can be broadly understood as a method of coercion that utilizes or threatens to utilize violence in order to spread fear and thereby attain political or ideological goals”.
Furthermore, the Arab Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism defined it as:
Any act or threat of violence, whatever its motives or purposes, that occurs in the advancement of an individual or collective criminal agenda and seeking to sow panic among people, causing fear by harming them, or placing their lives, liberty or security in danger, or seeking to cause damage to the environment or to public private installations or property or to occupying or seizing them, or seeking to jeopardize a national resources
Besides, the OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combatting of Terrorism defined a terrorist act as:
- Any act which is a violation of the criminal laws of a State Party and which may endanger the life, physical integrity or freedom of, or cause serious injury or death to, any person, any member of group or persons or causes or may cause damage to public or private property, natural resources, environmental or cultural heritage and is calculated or intended to:
- Intimidate, put in fear, coerce or induce any government, body, institution, the general public or any segment thereof, to do or abstain from doing any act, or to adopt or abandon a particular standpoint, or to act according to certain principles; or
- Disrupt any public services, the delivery of any essential service to the public or to create a public emergency; or
- Create general insurrection in a State
Moreover, the EU sees that it is the unduly compelling of a government or international organization to perform or abstain from performing any act. In addition, the USA laws see that it is any action that represents a danger to the human life, does not go with the provisions of the international law, and threatens the internal and external interests. Thus, we conclude that there is no agreement on a specific definition to terrorism. According to Gregory Lukanz, the definition of terrorism did not get any agreement; nevertheless, around 109 definitions of terrorism in the 1980s mentioned that it is any threat to the state with violence such as hijacking aircrafts and killing the soldiers. Later in the 1990s, more than 212 definitions mentioned the use of violence and intimidation to achieve the objectives of a specific part.
- Types of terrorism:
The types are divided according to the field or the level used in the analysis, study, and even the fight on which the study is based. The fight against terrorism depends mainly on its geographic limitations, as the local terrorism does not get as much interest as the international or cross-border one, which clearly affects the interest of many states. In this context, the international terrorism is part of the types that are based on geopolitical bases.
- Local terrorism:
It takes place within the state for specific aims that are limited to the range of the state. The acts of the local terrorism do not exceed the borders of the state and have no external links. Hence, it basically relies on the local efforts in the preparation and perpetuation and does not depend on any external funding. Besides, the victims and the consequences are inside the state.
- International terrorism:
The terrorist act takes the international nature if one of its parts is a foreigner. In other words, it is international when one of the perpetuators is from another nationality. Besides, it is international when the planning takes place in a state and the execution in another, when there is a foreign funding or shelter, or when there is an attack on a public international service such as the aircrafts, the vessels, or the international transportation means. Furthermore, it is so when there is an attack on people protected by the international law such as heads of states and diplomatic envoys. The experts’ ad hoc committee, established by the International Union to Unify the Penal Law in 1980, considers terrorism international when:
- The act triggers troubles in the international relations.
- The crime is perpetuated on another state rather than where it started.
- The act is perpetuated in a state rather than that of the planning.
- The perpetuators are foreigners.
The international terrorist act affects the international interests and values and causes international panic and horror. It is made up of the material, moral, and international criteria. Thus, since the international crime requires universal jurisdiction, any state shall prosecute the perpetuators regardless the state of perpetuation.
- The development of terrorism in the African Sahel:
Undoubtedly, the African Sahel is a region of crises due to the degradation of security that affects the surrounding states and their simple agro-pastoral societies. In addition, its states are among the poorest in the world according to the international ranks and the reports of the human development despite the natural resources in the region such as oil, gold, metal, uranium, etc. In the same vein, the region had lately witnessed increasing security threats due to the widening terrorism in the frontiers with Algeria, Mauritania, Mali, and Niger where the usual lifestyles are no more seen in the villages. What draws attention in these regions is the spread of drug dealing, illegal migration, and gunrunning that create overlapping organizations with extremist and fundamentalist trends and local economic interests that have regional and international extensions on the international scene.
The collapse of Al Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2012 pushed terrorists to move to other regions mainly to Africa, and more exactly to Somalia, Mali, Nigeria, and North Africa*. At the present, there are 05 terrorist groups in Africa, namely Boco Haram in Nigeria, Al Qaida in the Maghreb, Harakat Al Shabaab al Mojahidin in Somalia, Harakat Ansar Dine al Salafiya in Mali, and Harakat al Tawhid wa al Jihad in West Africa led by separatists from al Qaida**. However, these states are just a mean not a target for the group as the ultimate aim is having control over the international energy reserve to twist the Western arm. Hence, terrorist groups want to control the whole region.
In addition, the expansion of terrorism in the region of the Sahel increased with the development of the political and economic interactions, the internal struggles, and the civil wars. For instance, the development of terrorism in Algeria was due to the developments of the political process (1990-1991). Besides, the crisis between Touaregs and Islamists in Mali paved the way for terrorism. In order to restore stability and security in the region of the African Sahel, in the light of the Western movement and the French military intervention at behest of the Malian and the ECOWAS authorities, security experts fear the existence of a coordination between the terrorist groups and criminal organizations in the region, and the expansion of the terrorist acts in North Africa, particularly in Algeria. Furthermore, US studies say that the region of the African Sahel shall turn into a fertile ground for terrorism mainly with the emergence of indexes that call for the growth of religious extremism and bigot Salafist groups.
Axis two: the terrorist groups and the factors of their emergence in the African Sahel
After we have shed light on the definitions and development of terrorism, we shall focus on the main terrorist groups that exist in the African Sahel and affect the stability and security of the region in general.
- The main terrorist organizations in the region of the African Sahel:
- a. Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb:
This organization appeared as an extension of the extremist Jihadist movements in Algeria through Al Jamaa al-Salafia li-Daawa wal Qital that declared its loyalty to al Qaida in 2006 and took this name on 24-01-2007. This terrorist current and organization was led by Mokhar Bel Mokhtar, Ibrahim Ghariqa, and Nacer Melik who moved to the region of Azawad thanks to their good knowledge about it because they used to buy weapons from there during the Black Decade. Then, Omar Saifi, known as Abdul Razzak al Para, came and captured 30 European tourists in 2003 and drove them to North Mali where he was arrested by the rebels of the Movement for Justice and Democracy, which fights the Chadian regime, and submitted to Algeria. Then, he was substituted by Abdul Hamid Abu Zayd who changed the name of the organization to the battalion of Tarek Ibn Ziyad in 2007. Later, Mokhtar Belmokhtar rejoined the organization in 2007 and married from the Arabic tribes in the region.
This organization has a special hierarchy that includes emirs, the elders’ council, committees’ heads, and an advisory council. Besides, it is based on the bay’a “the pledge” that covers all the Maghreb and the states of Sahel. According to its declarations, the organization aims to liberate the region from the foreign Christian existence and the loyal regimes, and to found an Islamic state. In this line, this organization attacked a Mauritanian military barrack in June 2017 leading to the murder of 17 soldiers. Besides, it aims at getting in contact with the other terrorist groups such as the Nigerian Boco Haram that kidnapped the Western hostages in Nigeria; this shows the terrorist penetration amid the African Sahel and the African West.
In 2007, conflicts started between Mokhtar Bel Mokhtar and Abdul Hamid Abu Zayd; thus, the leadership sent Yahya Jouadi, known as Abu Ammar, as a new emir. In this line, Belmokhtar was excluded from the leadership and kept his leadership to al Molathamoun Battalion that he had founded. On the other hand, Abdul Hamid Abu Zayd was assigned with the battalion of Tarek Ibn Zyad and Ahmed Agh Amama, known as Abu Abddul karim Al-Targui, was assigned with Katibat al Ansar. As for the 04th battalion, it was under Okacha Jamal, known as Yahya Abu al Hammam, who became the emir of the organization in 2012.
The strategy of al Qaida:
Al Qaida is characterized with its dual organization as it works on a linear and flat shape which allowed it to survive. It relies on 06 actions as follows:
- Exhaustion: trough causing financial and economic troubles.
- Separation: through creating division amid the forces it attacks.
- Failing states: through creating domestic troubles in the failing states to maximize its power and widen its movement.
- The double power: through providing continuous support to its members.
- The converted and the clean hand: through using the newly converted to Islam to perpetuate terrorist attacks. It takes advantage of the security and defensive changes to make abrupt attacks.
The main attacks made by al Molathamoun Battalion:
The “Molathamoun battalion” can be defined as: “One of the most prominent terrorist groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda in the Sahara region, but it separated from it after that and is led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who is one of the most prominent leaders of Al-Qaeda in the Desert. to its own members, but some reports indicate that it is the largest and most heavily armed group affiliated with al-Qaeda”
- It captured the UN special envoy to Niger, the Canadian Robert Fowler, and his assistant Louis Guay in December 2008. Then, they were released after 04 years after paying a ransom.
- It captured 02 French people in the Nigerian Capital. They were killed in an attempt to free them.
- It made an attack on a unit of the Algerian customs in 2007 that caused the death of 12 Algerian custom officials.
- It made an attack on a center of the Mauritanian army on 04-06-2005 that caused the death of 17 soldiers.
- It captured 03 Spanish rescuers on the Mauritanian lands in November 2009.
Later, Belmokhtar founded a new battalion called “Signed in Blood” to make suicidal operations. In this context, it made an attack against Arriva Company for Uranium extraction in North Nigeria, and against the military academy of the Nigerian army using two bomb cars driven by two suicide bombers. Abdul Hamed Abu Zayd was murdered on 22 February 2013 in confrontations with the Chadian forces that were supported by the French aircrafts.
b- The Movement of Ansar Dine:
It represents the jihadist Salafi trend in Touareg in the North of Mali and aims at enforcing the Islamic Sharia. It is led by Iyad Agha Ghali, known as Abu al Fadl, who has great influence in North Mali and on Touaregs. In 2011, it did not agree with the National Front to Liberate Azawad that aimed at founding a civil state. Thus, Iyad Agha Ghali moved to al Qaida and started working with it under the slogan “empowering for reform in Azawad”. Agha Ghali was among Azawad movement that was against the Malian government in the early 1990s. He embraced a patriotic thought, not an Islamist, and worked as a consul for Mali in KSA. Later, with the collapse of al Gadhafi regime, he shifted to the Jihadist thought, and, later, to the Jihadist work in the region. The movement aims at establishing an Islamic state in the region. The region of Kidal is its headquarters because of the security instability there.
c- The Movement of Jihad wa al-Tawheed MOJWA:
It was founded in July 2011 after separation from al Qaida. Its members come from the tribe Amhar in the city of Nmawer. It was founded by Sultan Weld Badi, known as Abu Ali, and Weld Amer, known as Ahmed al-Telmini, who comes from Arab origins. It is one of the most dangerous extremist movements as it targeted the regional leadership of the Algerian gendarmeries in Ouergla in March 2012. Besides, it kidnapped 07 Algerian diplomats from the Malian city Gao in April 2012. It is an Arabic version of the Movement of Ansar Dine that is dominated by Touaregs, mainly that these members wanted to found special battalions in al-Qaida. However, their demand was rejected; pushing them to found this terrorist organization. In this context, the movement is vague as it perpetuates attacks against Algeria only. Therefore, Morocco was indicted of founding it.
d- Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ISIS:
The flow of the terrorists from the hotspots in the Middle East, mainly from Syria and Iraq, to the African Sahel states widely increased. In this context, the Algerian forces murdered Abdul Malik Ghouri, the leader of Jund al Khilafa, when he was paving the way for ISIS penetration in Algeria. Besides, the Moroccan army arrested a French soldier who had relations with Jabhat al Nusra in Syria and Ansar al-Sharia in Libya. According to UN sources, more than 40 terrorist organizations pledged loyalty to ISIS; of which 20 are in the Arab Maghreb, the African Sahel, and other regions in Africa. These organizations include Jund al Khikafa in Algeria and Tunisia, and the Islamic State in Libya, Boco Haram in Nigeria, Harakat Al-Shabaab in Juba, the cell of Bashir Abu Naaman in Somalia, al-Iltizam min al-Quran wa al-Sunnah in Sudan, and Ansar Bait al Maqdis in Sinai.
Besides, the same organization managed to found a basis for training in Libya taking advantage of the instability and division. In this line, 6500 extremists were trained to make future terrorist attacks. ISIS perpetuated a big attack on Corinthia hotel in Tripoli that brought about huge human losses that included Libyans and foreigners; this was a reaction to the capture of Abu Anas al-Libi in 2013 by US troops after he had been accused of bombarding US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 where 24 people were murdered. In addition, ISIS claimed responsibility for the explosion of a bomb car next to the diplomatic security building in Tripoli.
- Boco Haram group:
The group of Boco Haram, which means “the western teaching is sinful”, is a Nigerian armed Islamic group that claims working to enforce the Islamic Sharia in the entire Nigeria. Most of the local and foreign media say that the group emerged in 2002. Nevertheless, its real origins date back to 1995 when it was founded by Mohamed Yusuf. This group considers that all what is Western does not go with Islam. Besides, it sees the Western influence on the Islamic societies as the basic reason for the religious weakness. The spread of the religious movements in the region brought about a strategic reversion and a direct effect on Algeria. In addition to the security deterioration in Algeria and the increase of the terrorist activity that is linked with the various criminal activities on the borders, the structural and organic connection of these illegal activities with the active terrorist groups in Algeria affected the Algerian national security.
- The factors leading to terrorism in the African Sahel:
The losses the terrorist groups afforded, the gradual weakness of the terrorist discourse in Algeria after the war on terrorism, and the increase of people’s awareness led the terrorists in the region to pledge loyalty to al Qaida to get funding and recruit new fighters who had experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and still have relations with the Jihadist movements. This was confirmed by Ramtan Laamamra when interpreting the belonging of al Jamaa al-Salafiya to al Qaida and the recent terrorist spread in the African Sahel. Besides, Ramtan Laamamra mentioned other reasons as such:
- Terrorists were looking for new safe regions for them where there is little national security.
- Terrorists look for new funding sources because the conventional sources had been cut thanks to the international measures and the decrease of the popular support to extremism. Thus, they look for alternative sources to fund their attacks as confirmed by Razzak Bara who said that the capturing operations that targeted the Westerns in the African Sahel are a basic source for funding as they brought revenues of 150 million Euro in 05 years. Moreover, Abdul Kader Msahel revealed that 95% of the terrorist funding comes from ransoms and drug dealing. Hence, drug dealing is a new thriving market that makes up for the failure of kidnapping.
- Terrorists need new surfaces to meet the recruitment needs in an international meeting with the others. In this line, the African Sahel was a fertile ground for settlement and recruitment of the unemployed youth.
In addition, the spread can be explained with
a- The widespread violence in the region of the African Sahel:
Since the start of the millennium, the Sahel turned into a strategic zone for the terrorist movements as there is no control and most of the states face violence and continuous struggles such as the struggle of Touaregs in Mali and Niger, the internal conflicts in West and East Africa, the frontal struggles, and the conflicts related to the electoral violence. In this line, the region is sharply affected by the continuous problems, the abrupt catastrophes, and the degraded situations in the late years due to drought, poverty, and weakness of the political regimes. In brief, it is a region of chaos that does not improve. This affects the states’ ability to combat security threats and helps challenges grow.
b- The vulnerability of the states of the Sahel:
The weak and collapsed states transport the threats and represent dangers for the others as is the case for the states under study that are neither able to control their territories efficiently nor to enshrine security because they lack the effective state bodies. Hence, the vulnerability paves the way towards a fertile ground for the terrorist groups and dealers who penetrated the region. The states’ weakness can be attributed to the absence of investments, the retarded economic conditions, poverty, unemployment, and corruption. These factors hinder exercising the sovereign prerogatives.
The absence of the states in this region helped al Qaida in the Maghreb consolidate its existence to shake the stability and create chaos to work freely. In this context, most of the terrorist activities grow and flourish in a troubled security environment which allows developing the operational competencies, training, recruitment, arming, and the perpetuation of attacks against the institutions, citizens, foreigners, and the neighboring states. In addition, the states’ inability to meet the citizens’ basic needs (education, health, food, and socioeconomic opportunities) made them feel abandoned. In addition, the security forces cannot guarantee an effective control over large deserted regions, mainly the frontiers; what made penetration easy by the gangsters and terrorists.
c- The absence and weakness of growth:
A group of experts appointed by the UN Secretary in 2004 highlighted the necessity to ponder the security threats against the humanity so as to set a milestone for a new collective security system. In this context, the infectious diseases and severe poverty make threats and a fertile ground for the emergence of other threats such as the civil wars. The growth indexes in the states that host terrorist groups such as the Sahel states are the lowest worldwide. In this regard, Mauritania ranks 159, Mali 175, and Niger 186 on the International Growth Index. This underdevelopment helped the terrorist movements create disorder and make a permanent settlement.
d- The democratic disability and the absence of the good rule:
The bad rule and the ineffective social and economic policies in the states of Sahel led to the rise of terrorism. These states have no democracy respect and sovereignty of the law and are characterized with a false democracy and the spread of corruption at all the levels; what affects many vital sectors such as security and defense that cannot perform their basic tasks effectively and efficiently. Besides, the security against the criminal and terrorist activities is almost absent as the power moved to the political and ethnic battalions instead of the governmental forces; making the streets under the rule of the criminals.
e- The spread of extremism in the Sahel:
Lately, the region witnessed the rise of extremism that is accompanied by violence as a reaction to the oppressive practices by the local regimes that closed the doors of participation and dialogue in front of the Islamists. In this vein, the regimes did not provide peaceful means for the Islamists to achieve their personal ambitions. Besides, since the region is underdeveloped, poor, marked with illiteracy, faces gradual penetration of foreign currents such as “Wahabism”, and witnesses a public turmoil, it knows at the present a new status-quo that the terrorist groups took advantage of to consolidate their extremist’ creeds and recruit new members; this explains the relation between vulnerability and extremism.
f- The Libyan crisis as a new factor in attracting terrorism in the Sahel:
The intervention of NATO to throw down the Libyan regime brought about catastrophic outcomes on the Sahel such as the increase of the terrorist movements that were exacerbated by two causes. The 1st is the widespread weapons due to the attacks on the Libyan armaments when the NATO intervened; it is noteworthy pointing that NATO turned a blind eye towards the attacks on the armaments and did not protect the weapons. This was criticized by Algeria and Mali. Thus, the spread of the heavy weapons and the low security on the borders encouraged the terrorist invasion. The second is the collapse of the Libyan regime that led to a state of chaos that paved the way for the terrorist and criminal activities.
g- The international competition in the region:
There is a relation between the foreign invasion and the terrorist invasion to the Sahel as the terrorists now use the foreigners in their operations. The growth of the geopolitical importance of the Sahel and the increase of the challenges for the internal and external forces pushed the terrorists to settle there to target the external forces that established military bases in the region to help the internal forces of the region. Thus, the foreign and terrorist penetrations intersect and are both cause and effect for each other. Therefore, the region became a scene for struggle.
Axis three: the repercussions of the terrorist organizations in the region of the African Sahel:
1- The political repercussions of terrorism in the region of the African Sahel:
The coups in the Sahel resulted from the increasing public rage after the presidents had failed to keep their electoral pledges, mainly regarding terrorism. In this line, the regimes were accused of loose handling of the terrorist issues. Besides, they did not manage to make a firm grip on security against the threats, leading to the increase of tensions and the weakness of military and public support to the rulers. Another factor is the change by force in some surrounding states such as the coup in Burkina Faso that is considered the 4th in the African Sahel since 2020 after 02 coups in Mali in 2020 and 2021 and another one in Guinea in September 2021.
The prominent political challenges imposed by terrorism in the Sahel manifest in undermining democracy inside the state due to the absence of the security atmosphere. This led to the spread and return of the oppressive practices in rule; such as the repercussions of the coup in Mali in August 2020 that include the resignation of President Abraham Abu Baker Keita who was substituted by the army before the coup of May 2021 led by Colonel Assimi Goita.
2- The security repercussions of terrorism in the African Sahel:
The states of Sahel still suffer military and security repercussions due to the spread of terrorist and armed groups, which impose many oppressive policies and practices that affect security in the region. Besides, they threaten the surrounding states, mainly the coastal ones. In this line, the current fight center against the Jihadists is in the region known as “the three borders” between Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. Nevertheless, the terrorist threat concerns the coastal states as the terrorists managed to gain a foothold in the Southern part of Sahara and to reach the surrounding states that are not part of the Sahel states (including Benin, Ivory Coast, and Togo).
Besides, this can be due to the change of the center of the terrorist organizations and their ability to find a good environment in different geographic regions. Nevertheless, there are two hotspots for radical extremism and instability in the African Sahel. The 1st covers Mali, its surroundings, Burkina Faso, and Niger in the Western Sahel. In this vein, many loyal groups to al Qaida work there and some of them pledged loyalty to ISIS recently. The second sport encompasses the Chad Lake Basin that includes Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameron; which all had been suffering for years, mainly Nigeria because of Boco Haram. Later, in 2016, a separatist group declared loyalty to ISIS. In addition, the terrorist groups take over the lands during negotiations and establish markets for illegal trade to finance their activities. Immediately after having control over a region, they make settlements and training camps and get ready for future attacks. Besides, they rely on capturing and ransoms for financial support to buy weapons and public support.
3- The economic repercussions for terrorism on the African Sahel:
The threats emerging from terrorist works hugely affect the economic activities of the Sahel states as these activities deplete a huge number of resources. Furthermore, terrorism affects the economic growth of these states that are the most subject to terrorist and criminal nets worldwide. We must point out that the rate of the human and economic growth in the Sahel states is one of the lowest internationally. During the last years, the recurring food crises resulting from climate change, environmental degradation, drought, floods, market shrinking, decrease of the agricultural productivity, poverty, and tensions sharpened the social and economic circumstances, mainly for those living in the marginalized regions. Furthermore, terrorism lowers the growth rates and increases the risks of domestic and foreign investment, pushing investors to escape the prevailing terrorist atmosphere and security instability; such as the case in Sahel.
Axis fourth: Policies and Security Strategies of G5 Sahel States Against Terrorism
In this part, we will discuss the security policies and strategies of the five Sahel countries against terrorism in two points. First, the general context of the 5G Sahel initiative, and then we will move on to explaining and analyzing the most prominent challenges that led to the failure of these strategies.
- The general context of the 5G Sahel initiative
- The Convention Establishing the Creation of the G5 Sahel:
The Group of Five for the Sahel or G5 Sahel is an institutional framework or-ganization founded in while a summit of 14th to 17th February 2014 in Nouak-chott, by Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. The G5 Sahel is created with purpose of combining security and development through regional cooperation. It came about at a time of rising regional security con-cerns, marked by the proliferation of terrorist armed groups across the Sahel re-gion. The presidency of the G5 Sahel in 2020 is assured by the Mauritanian president Mr. Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani and its permanent secreta-riat station is confided to the Nigerien Maman Sambo SIDIKOU. The G5 Sahel works in partnership with different international organizations that bring a lo-gistical and financial supports for the achievement of its daily missions.
The G5 Sahel in its convention established on December 2014 had stipulated in its preamble some main points permitting the good achievement of the or-ganization. These points play an important role in the execution of the G5 Sa-hel’s tasks. They are based mainly on the founding on the ties seculars and mul-tiform that unites the peoples of the Sahel; to conjugate their efforts in order to make the Sahel a space of peace, concord and prosperity. The interdependence of the challenges of security and development is also an essential point to con-sider with the challenges that face the region of the Sahel. The preamble also stipulated a common action of the G5S countries to raise these challenges of in-tegration and the solidarity between States that are indispensable for the optimi-zation of the potentialities exploitation and the backing of resilience. This con-vention had encouraged the countries member of the G5 Sahel to a common will to cooperate between them and to negotiate with the technical partners and pub-lic or private financials in order to find some harmonious solutions to the prob-lems that touch the security and the development of the States of the G5 Sahel and Renewed their firm condemnation of terrorism under all its forms and reaf-firmed their determination to preserve the territorial integrity of the States and to work together in order to assure the security in the Sahel space.
This convention is the main basic that permitted the setting of the different organs of functioning of the G5 Sahel, and these organs play an important role in the G5S missions in the security aspect. Five organs have been approved and each of them works on a strategic issue within its Executive Secretariat. In this convention the interest is also to permit to all countries member to participate at the defense of Sahel territory and establish through its organs some mechanism of security strategy for sustainable and prosperous future. The will and re-searched goal of the heads of states of the G5 Sahel determine plenty the role that these organs exercise in the bureaucracy and in the tasks of security imple-mentation. The following part below of this work will permit to know these or-gans and their functioning.
- G5 Sahel Group Institutions:
Article 6 of the Convention establishing the group members is limited to five constitutions: Conference of Heads of State, Council of Ministers, Defense and Security Committee, Permanent Secretariat of the Group, and National coordinating committees. The conference of Heads of State consists of all chairs of the group, which is the supreme body of the group. It is the decision-making body of public policies and strategic options. It also ensures the management of all political and security activities of the Group. The Council meets in regular sessions every two years regularly. At the same time, the Council of Ministers, which includes ministers responsible for the development, is the body responsible for implementing the group’s policy as set by the Conference of Heads of State. The Council of Ministers meets twice a year, and the Defense and Security Committee entrusts with security matters for countries in the region and counter-terrorism. The Commission is composed of chiefs of staff and security officers from their respective countries. It is headed by the chief of staff of the armies of the state that leads the group.
The administrative work entrusts the Permanent Secretariat and the National Coordinating Committees Secretariat, taking responsibility for monitoring and evaluating the development and security strategy’s implementation. For mobilizing financial resources to finance the sustainable development strategy, it consists of a team of experts with multiple
competencies. The National Coordinating Committee also consists of national experts and is responsible for monitoring and implementing programs and projects in their sectors.
- The security strategies of the five Sahel countries and their effectiveness
- 5G Sahel strategy to eliminate terrorism in the region:
Since its inception in 2014, the five-member states had focused their efforts on adopting a security solution in the face of terrorist movements, and the local people who support them criminalize all who belong to those movements from the local population. They waged an intense war on the cities and provinces where these movements exist without paying attention to finding solutions to the economic, social, and other issues to discourage the local population from joining these groups. As a result, they are engaged in armed conflict in the Sahel region. They have created many joint forces to combat terrorism, drug trafficking, and human trafficking to create a safe environment by eliminating the actions of terrorist armed groups and other organized criminal groups, paving the way for the restoration of security and peace, as well as contributing to necessary steps and procedures towards restoring state authority. The return of displaced persons and refugees facilitates humanitarian operations and the delivery of aid to the affected population as far as possible.
According to the Anti-terrorism approach policies and security strategies of G5 Sahel states against terrorism can be analyzed through the following stages:
- Follow-up and control: Since its establishment, the five Sahel countries have failed to develop their mechanism to monitor and track the activities of terrorist movements in the region, due to their lack of logistical capabilities and their complete dependence on French and American intelligence in tracking and monitoring terrorist movements.
- Prevention and Awareness: The five Sahel countries promised to allocate huge budgets for the development of the region and to prevent people from joining terrorist movements, but so far they had not fulfilled their promises which makes it easier for terrorist movements to attract many young people who are looking for a decent life.
- Protection: The G5s Sahel countries relied on the military solution with military support from France and intelligence support from the United States of America to provide protection to the local population and secure them against terrorist attacks by launching military campaigns on the locations of terrorist movements in the African Sahel region
- Preparedness and vigilance: The escalation in the number of terrorist attacks in the Sahel region shows the lack of vigilance and preparedness of the various Agencies of the G5s Sahel countries in the face of terrorist movements spread in the Sahel region, in addition to the failure of these agencies to take measures to mitigate the effects of these attacks.
- Challenges and factors that led to the failure of the 5G Sahel initiative to eradicate terrorism:
There is no doubt that the policies and strategies pursued by the 5G group during the past five years have not been effective in eliminating extremist ideology prevalent in the Sahel region and have not taken suitable measures that would limit this thought and eliminate it. This is due to internal and external factors that will be reviewed as follows:
B.1. Internal Factors:
The main questions have focused on the contextual determinants of political and security instability in Africa in general and the Sahel region in particular. A team of researchers considers the ethnic identities and the arbitrary division of the African borders without considering the privacy of societies. At the same time, another group suggested the role of economic factors and poor development while others focused on dependency. Moreover, others focused on what is currently known as the “war economy” and the repercussions that it stimulates conflicts and new actors such as terrorist acts and organized crime activities.
- The Crisis of Identity and National Integration:
Among the challenges that national leaders faced, in the focus of nation-building in Africa and the Sahel region is how to transform multi-racial, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and religious societies into one nation. Any cultural group’s belief that states that it does not belong to the state or claims not belonging to another group, even though the latter group lives within the country itself provides very fertile grounds for the existence of identity crisis. As educational, military, and bureaucratic institutions, as well as intermediary institutions such as parties and unions all, belong to the dominant central state irrespective of tribal, sectarian, ethnic factions so is the state institutions that are vital working tools in neural service and durability and also responsible for the deepening of the crisis must work as one single integrated working unit. The absence of “institutionalism” is the characteristic feature in many African Sahel states’ institutions, as they are related to ethnic, tribal, and sectarian trends. The political life in this region is based on the prevalence of the manifestations of tribal life in which loyalty to tribe predominates over allegiance to homeland, Especially for some of the region’s settling tribes that have transnational extensions such as the minority of Tuareg distributed in five countries: Mali, Niger, Libya, Algeria, and Burkina Faso, which directly affect the cohesion of national unity and thus the survival and continuity of the countries. Therefore, the identity and integration crisis in the African Sahel states appears in three primary forms:
- Racial contrast, ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity.
- The dilemma of the artificial borders left by colonialism with no regard to this diversity.
- Consequently, the weakness of affiliation and loyalty shifted abroad.
- The Political Participation Crisis:
Deep structural imbalances characterize the political process in all African Sahel countries and the nature of closed political systems, weak political participation, lack and restriction of freedom of expression and information. The continued influence of the military establishment in these countries is one of the authentic features of reality in the African Sahel countries, which is a decisive factor in managing the political transition process, despite the countries ‘adoption of democracy. In addition to the relationship of this to the degree of institutionalization, which is an absent feature of all the Sahel states, and this is why Samuel Huntington links institutionalization with political participation and political stability. He believes that the latter’s achievement depends on building political institutions that organize political participation and prevent instability.
- Legitimacy Crisis:
The legitimacy of the political system is one of the essential constituents of the state and its continuity. However, in African Sahel, power is often achieved through non-democratic means and mechanisms in the form of imposing the dominating of a particular minority on the country’s political scene and the monopoly of power or by adopting the method of military coups to reach authority. That is incompatible with the democratic act as the heritage of the authoritarian state in Africa had led to the domination of political considerations over the administration of elections, which took a symbolic character in many cases to legitimize the ruling regime. It can be said that countries in the third world in general, including the African Sahel states, are both Western and traditional. They represent Western experience in its administrative, security, and military apparatus model. Simultaneously, the idea of making power exclusive to the ruler and his followers has been extracted from its cultural heritage, which would void any modernization of its actual content.
- Penetration Crisis:
The state in the African coast countries continues to experience difficulties in internal political geography due to the lack of control over its vast lands and borders. The governments of the five countries within the African coast theoretically exercise sovereignty over its vast territories. This is due to the lack of available capabilities and the failures that they live in. The majority of the countries in this region are either collapsed states or are on the way to failure, which would fuel instability and insecurity in this region by sharing power with non-state actors with a central authority, such as the tribes, and the various ethnicities scattered along the African coast, similar to Tuareg minority, in addition to organized crime networks. Terrorist active groups in this region sometimes confront the Tuareg rebel alliance with al-Qaeda and organized crime networks.
- Economic Challenges:
Among the challenges hindering the nation-building process in the African coast are poverty, increased unemployment, starvation, economic decline, health decline, weak economic growth, high levels of borrowing, dependency abroad, poor educational and social infrastructure, and disruption of agricultural resources, in addition to illiteracy and ignorance. These factors nurture sources of despair, exacerbate feelings of frustration, and provide fertile ground for rebellious movements, defection, and extremism. Starting from the security and development syndrome, as a sign of this, all African Sahel countries are ranked at the bottom (last rank) of the Human Development Index for the year 2019, for example, Niger 189th place, Chad 187, Mali 184, Sudan 168, and Mauritania 161. As for food security, which entails health security, the estimates for December 2019 indicated that more than 25 million people in the Sahel region suffer from food insecurity; 3 million are in critical conditions and need urgent food assistance. The year 2019 witnessed a deterioration in the food security situation for a more significant number than in previous years.
The Sahel region is persistently and unacceptably experiencing high levels of acute malnutrition. OCHA (United Nations Office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs) indicated that in 2018, 500,000 children suffered from severe malnutrition while 5.8 million children under the age of five suffered from high food insecurity levels. 24 million people will need urgent assistance in the Sahel region, including 1.6 million children who have suffered from acute malnutrition (SAM) and 4.4 million children from moderate, severe malnutrition (MAM). Furthermore, an average third of children in the Sahel region are stunted (due to stunted growth). It is also estimated that 5.71 million children die every year under the age of five because of malnutrition, and 5 million children need educational assistance. These multi-dimensional challenges can be attributed to several factors:
- Mismanagement and corruption.
- The external environment is related to external indebtedness because the African Sahel countries live and depend largely on humanitarian aid and borrowing, which significantly hinders their growth and development thereby leveraging the political and socio-economic independence of these countries.
- The state relinquishes its social functions within the framework of achieving social justice despite the rapid demographic growth, which is not in line with the pace of economic growth in this region. Consequently, it would weaken loyalty and transfer it to other bodies represented in the minority, ethnic group, entity, and clans. This has led to an alliance with organized crime gangs to secure livelihood, as was evident during the recent crisis in the African Sahel region beginning in 2012.
B.2. External Factors:
The current wave of changes that are taking place in the North African region has contributed to the complexity by deepening crises in the African Sahel region. Moreover, the security situation and the region’s abundance of natural resources have made it gain an international strategic value. Thus, the Sahel region became significantly important among the international powers’ priorities and interests in light of the intertwined security threats. The major countries have sought to review their security strategy in line with the nature of the security, political, economic, social, and environmental crises experienced by most of the region’s countries. In light of the international competition on the African continent in general and the African Sahel region. International powers, especially France, have sought to rebuild their relations with the area’s countries to preserve their position and influence on its former colonies.
- France: The Necessity of Preserving its Interests and the Heightening of its Hatred:
The independence granted to the majority of West African countries was based on the will of the French government, not by a decision of the African citizens themselves. This is evident through the message The French President Char de Gaulle sent to his counterpart, Leon Amba, the Gabonese Prime Minister, in which he said, “We are giving the independence of the country, provided that it undertakes to respect the cooperation agreements agreed by the two parties. From this statement, it becomes clear that France is not ready to lose its influence on West Africa, and that is why it imposed on its former colonies the inclusion of cooperation agreements in various fields (security, economic, environmental). Before studying and analyzing France’s policy towards the African continent in general and the African Sahel region, we must clarify what is meant by the France-Africa strategy. It is also known as Jacques Foucart’s policy. It is called in the French history books “Mr. Africa in the Elysee Palace.” Paris imposed this strategy on its former colonies in Africa, where the African political elites considered it a strategy to exploit African countries. However, France viewed it is as a mechanism for cooperation between Paris and its former colonies. This strategy can be summarized in three main points: ensuring access to vital resources such as uranium, oil, and diamonds, expanding in established military bases, and reinforce the gap between political and social institutions. France always sets its eyes on Africa. It plays in all the cards, especially when it comes to the Sahel, West, or North Africa, where it still wants to retain its influence in these areas, especially in light of the United States of America’s competition in the region.
France has played a significant role in creating the G5 group, and the first person who was very pleased after its establishment was the French general Pierre Dévé in his famous phrase, “This is the time to improve the security situation in the region.” The European Council was delighted with the group’s birth, and the official announcement of the formation of the 5,000-strong contingent was announced on July 2, 2017, in Bamako, the capital of Mali, in the presence of the French President Emmanuel Macaron.
Six months after its creation, France announced the end of Operation Serval. It replaced it with a new operation that was not the Mali government’s will, as France claims. However, it was only to adapt to the unique situation and expand the French army’s control of the territory. The process of “Serval” was limited in Mali, while the operation “Barrakhan” in which France
divided its soldiers and military bases in the five group countries and the number of French troops were 4000 soldiers, which is approximately equal to the number of Special Forces of the group combined. The troops were led by a French general stationed at his headquarters in Chad. The plan was based on three main support points, GAO in Mali, Niamey in Niger, and N’Djamena in Chad, and six advanced temporary bases in Kidal, Tisalit, Agla, Madama, Faya, and Abeche and three points of maritime support in Dakar, Abidjan, and Douala. France has a strong and influential presence in the group; five generals attend the group’s meetings. France also participates in working with committees responsible for developing plans and strategies against terrorist attacks and planning joint operations. On May 20, 2014, the Nouakchott Declaration’s adoption was by the interior ministers of the five countries in the presence of French Interior Minister Bernard Kazanov.
The declaration called for facilitating the exchange of information in security and border management in the period from 20 to 27 of December 2014. The group’s first military operation was carried out under the name operation “Mangouste” and was with the participation of the French forces in the process” Barrakhan ” and was led by the French military base in Madama. French incursion has reached the level of control over the group in a way that may raise doubts about the independence of the group and made it a machine in the hands of France or just another facade of the process of Barrakhan, which also increases complexity because of the calculations and priorities of France in the region.
In the end, findings show that terrorism raises prominent cross-border challenges and threats in the Sahel that is deeply affected by the activities of the armed groups and organizations, which brought about instability. In this vein, the complicated geographical characteristics of the region make it hard to control the borders amid the good relations between the armed battalions, terrorist organizations, and criminal groups that exercise human trafficking, drug dealing, and.
The findings of the study can be summed up in the following points:
- The environment of the Sahel is suitable for the continuity, increase, and penetration of the terrorist movements.
- The terrorist threats in the region of the African Sahel are expanding and creating negative security ramifications that affect even the surrounding states.
- The region of the African Sahel is characterized with crises, mainly the security ones, which affect the continuity of the regimes and pave the way for the external interventions.
- Security policies and strategies pursued by the five coastal countries are ineffective in curbing the threat of terrorism in the region. The evidence for this is the escalation of violence, extremism, and the expansion of terrorist movements after France withdrew from Mali.
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 Aḥmad Hibat Allāh, al-irhāb al-dawlī (Alexandria: al-Maʻārif institution, 2011), p.36
 Ibid, p. 30.
 Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 2023, URL: https: www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/terrorsim, accessed on 04/07/2023, at 16:35.
 Wahibah tbāly, « al-amn al-Mutawassiṭ fī istirātījīyah al-ḥilf al-Aṭlasī dirāsah ḥālat Ẓāhirat al-irhāb », (Unpublished Magister thesis, Faculty of Laws and Political Sciences, University of Tizi Ouzou, 08/06/2014), p. 152.
 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Introduction to International Terrorism, (2018), p. 01.
 League of the Arabs, The Arab Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism, (April 1998), p. 2.
 OAU, Convention on the Prevention and Combating of terrorism, n.d., p. 03.
 Ghassān Ṣabrī Kāṭiʻ, al-Juhūd al-ʻArabīyah li-mukāfaḥat Jarīmat al-irhāb (Jordan: house of culture, 2011), pp. 97-98.
 Ibid, pp. 100-102.
 Ibid, p. 110.
 Islamist Terrorism in the Sahel: Fact or fiction?, Crisis Group Africa Report, N92, 31 March 2005, p. 34.
 Saʻd Tawfīq Ḥaqqī, al-niẓām al-dawlī al-jadīd dirāsah fī Mustaqbal al-ʻAlāqāt al-Dawlīyah baʻda intihāʼ al-ḥarb al-bāridah (Amman: al-Ahlīyah for publication, 1999), p. 23.
* Dr. Jackie Celliers, founder of the South African Institute of Security Studies, told the African Defense Platform.
** Prof. Dr. Masutha Samuel Chehla, Dean of the Faculty of Military Sciences at Stellenbosch University, and his colleague Prof. Dr. François Frey.
 Qawī Būḥanīyah & ʻAbd al-ʻĀlī ʻAbd al-Qādir, jyopolytykā al-qārrah al-Afrīqīyah, Vol. 01 (Amman: Ḥāmid house for publication and distribution, 2020), p. 104
 ʻAbd al-Raḥīm Raḥmūnī, al-amn al-Jazāʼirī wa-al-qaḍāʼ al-iqlīmī, Vol. 01 (Amman: academic book center, 2019), p. 23.
 Amḥanid Barqūq, « al-Sāḥil al-Afrīqī bayna al-tahdīdāt al-dākhilīyah wa-al-Ḥisābāt al-khārijīyah », Journal of the strategic world, Vol. 07, (November 2008), p. 03.
 Alʻāydh Mūsá al-ʻAzab, Judhūr al-ʻunf fī al-Gharb al-Afrīqī ḥālat Mālī wa-Nayjīriyā (Egypt: al-Bashīr house for culture and sciences, 2015), p. 17.
 Muḥammad Maḥmūd Abū al-Maʻāl, al-Qāʻidah wḥulafāʼhā fī azawad-Nashʼat wa-asrār al-Tawassuʻ (Doha: al-Jazīrah center for studies. 2014), p. 39.
 al-ʻAzab, op. cit., p. 21.
 Abū al-Maʻālī op. cit. p, 57.
 Malīkah frymsh, wāqiʻ Niẓām al-sayṭarah al-jughrāfī fī al-Minṭaqah (amman: al-Ḥāmid house for publication, 2018), p 25.
 Abū al-Maʻālī op. cit. p, 60.
 Islam Karam Abdul, Samie Eid Mahjoub , The “State of Mali” means and prospects for achieving cooperation and integration under the umbrella of the African Union,» journal of Arab Democratic Center, (24. April 2016) URL: https://democraticac.de/?p=30768 , accessed on 19/07/2023, at 20 :00.
 Abū al-Maʻālī op. cit. p, 68.
 Abū al-Maʻālī op. cit. p, 83.
 al-ʻAzab, op. cit., p. 25.
 Frymsh, op. cit., 264.
 Abū al-Maʻālī op. cit. p, 106.
 al-ʻAzab, op. cit., p. 28.
 Frymsh, op. cit., p. 266.
 al-ʻAzab, op. cit., p. 31.
 al-ʻAzab, op. cit., p. 40.
 Frymsh, op. cit., p. 268.
 Jalāl ṣāra al-layl, Hishām lqryʻy, «al-tahdīdāt al-Amnīyah fī minṭaqat al-Sāḥil al-Afrīqī wa-tadāʻiyātuhā ʻalá al-amn al-Jazāʼirī», Journal of economics and laws, No° 02, (December, 2018), p. 231
 William Assanvo, «State of the Terrorist Threat in West Africa analysis note n° 12,» Observatory of Diplomatic life in Africa (July 2012), P.17.
 Ibid, p. 18.
 Ibid, p. 21.
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 Ibid, p. 39.
 Ibid, p. 41.
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