As Terrorists Settle Into the Sahel, West Africa Prepares for Battle

May 29, 2019 | 09:00 GMT

Soldiers stand guard at a G5 Sahel task force command post on Nov. 22, 2018, in Mauritania near the border with Mali.

Remote villages near Mauritania's border with Mali have long been neglected, making them easier prey for jihadists and other armed groups that have proliferated in Africa's Sahel region in recent years.



  • Unstable areas in sub-Saharan Africa will become even more attractive hot spots for militant activity as extremists shift focus from fighting Western-led operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. 
  • The inability of France and other foreign actors to help stabilize the increasingly precarious Sahel region has made the region a particularly enticing destination for militants, both in terms of financing and manpower. 
  • Militants' growing presence in northern Mali and Burkina Faso could lead to an uptick in attacks and kidnappings in West Africa as groups expand their footholds southward. 
  • Such an increase in terrorist activity in Ghana and Ivory Coast could eventually prompt their Western beneficiaries to bolster counterterrorism efforts on the ground.  

As global terrorism shifts away from fighting against Western-led operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, jihadists and other militants -- including those affiliated with al Qaeda and the Islamic State -- have begun seeking out unstable regions in Sub-Saharan Africa as their next home. The Sahel, a vast space stretching from Mauritania's Atlantic Coast to Eritrea, has been particularly vulnerable to this shift due to the region's perennial tumult and poverty. But there are signs that the Sahel's militant spell is now seeping into West African countries as well, such as Ghana and Ivory Coast, which could have drastic consequences for some of the Continent's most prosperous economies and their chief ally, France. ...

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