Interview. Should the current strategy of combating Islamic terrorism in the Sahel be changed? Elements of the answer with the political scientist Niagalé Bagayoko.
largeAt least what we can say is that eight years after carrying out “Operation Valf” to free Mali from the capture of jihadists who aimed to establish Islamic power in Bamako, the crisis in the Sahel does not seem to be over. Although the French intervention in the Balkan operations continued in July 2014, the implementation of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, the establishment of the Group of Five Sahel countries to coordinate Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad, US intelligence The support of the department and the mobilization of European soldiers to form the Takuba army and other political measures taken on the ground have not improved. On the contrary, as the number of victims increases, especially among civilians, the risk of getting into trouble becomes more and more realistic. In order to limit the consequences of this dynamic, the Sahel Citizens League established civil society non-governmental organizations, associations and individuals to reflect on feasible solutions, namely the fight against Islamic terrorism. Political scientist Niagale Bakayoko, president of the African Security Service Network, agreed to decipher the situation in the 360-degree Sahel region and share the lessons to be learned in order to fail to find a certain amount of peace in order to limit the situation. Reasonable collateral damage. Actors in confrontation on all sides of the crisis.
Africa point: What do you think of the prevailing situation in the Sahel today?
Niagale Bagayoko (Niagalé Bagayoko) : Year after year, civilians in the Sahel, especially Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, face increasing threats. With reference to the data collected by the non-governmental organization ACLED, we determined that since 2017, attacks on civilians in three countries in the central Sahel have increased fivefold. During the same period, the number of civilians killed also increased sevenfold. More blatantly, the jihadist attacks have not stopped: on the contrary, since 2016, the annual attacks have almost doubled. Different types of militants attacked civilians who are often controlled by the suppression movement. Of course, it also includes members of criminal groups, self-defense groups or community militias, and defense and security forces. In fact, by 2020, their soldiers should be protected more than civilians killed by jihadist groups. These overwhelming figures mark the failure of the strategy implemented in the Sahel region since 2013 that specifically focuses on the fight against terrorism.
Fighting jihadist terrorism: 20 years in vain?
Your organization is a founding member of the Sahel Citizens’ League, which advocates a new approach to the crisis in the region. What approach does it intend to take and what measures does it intend to take to change this situation?
Faced with this perception that the current response cannot protect civilians, we call for a new approach, first of all focusing on the needs of the people, and the main means of success is not “neutral terrorists”. number. “», listed in the press release of the countries or international forces involved in the Sahel. In particular, this involves evaluating the effectiveness of operations by answering the following questions : How many schools and medical centers reopened under military intervention? Can people now enter their fields for farming or pasture to raise livestock? Did the action free the residents to enter the markets of neighboring villages? Do these measures allow displaced persons and refugees to return safely, voluntarily and informedly?
Sahel: “NGOs have a say”
The new approach we requested is based on a fundamental adjustment of priorities. In response to the four pillars identified at the Pau Summit in January 2020, they have since been consolidated within the framework of the International Sahel Alliance (to combat armed terrorist groups; strengthen the capabilities of the Sahel armed forces; support national Return and we propose to prioritize the following four “civic pillars”: the protection of civilians is the core of the Sahel crisis; support political strategies to address the root causes of this crisis to address the root causes of this crisis; respond to humanitarianism Emergency; Finally, stop impunity, especially the atrocities committed by the defense and security forces.
For each of these priorities, we have made specific recommendations. These recommendations are not designed to deal with all aspects of the Sahel crisis, but focus on specific areas, such as the implementation of mitigation within the Sahelian regiments. THAAD-inspired mechanism (a mechanism for analyzing, monitoring and identifying damage to civilians), supported by the European Union and the House of Lords (United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights), the Group of Five (G5)/Sahelian Organization ( Sahel) was appropriately adopted in February last year. This mechanism has been tested in other battlefields of counter-terrorism operations (for example, in Afghanistan). It stipulates the payment method of compensation, for example, when civilians are killed, livestock are scattered, fields are destroyed, and houses are destroyed during part of the operation. This does not imply criminal liability, but corresponds to symbolic compensation for the recognition of the suffering caused. We also recommend deadlines for implementing the recommendations, as well as qualitative and quantitative indicators to gauge the progress that will or will not be made in the next six months.
“To sign an agreement with the jihadists is to betray the Malian country”