Tuesday, 08.08.2023 - PSCC Talk - Zoom

PSCC Talk: "African Sub-regional Counter-Terrorism Cooperation and Initiatives: A Cross-Examination of the Accra Initiative, the G5 Sahel and the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF)"

As part of its virtual conferences called "PSCC Talk", the Peace and Security Center of Competence Sub-Saharan Africa of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES PSCC) Dakar organized on Tuesday August 08, 2023 a virtual conference on the theme: "Cooperation and initiatives African sub-regional counter-terrorism initiatives: cross-examination of the Accra initiative, the G5 Sahel and the Multidimensional Mixed Force”. The meeting, which brought together some twenty experts, aimed to analyze the progress and limits of these 03 sub-regional cooperation organizations present in the Sahel, the Lake Chad basin and the coastal countries, to understand the causes of the expansion of jihadism towards the countries of the Gulf of Guinea and finally to formulate more appropriate and coherent proposals for action to make these initiatives more effective and efficient.

In response to hybrid and complex security challenges, including terrorism, cross-border crime… , sub-regional cooperation initiatives involving States that share common borders have emerged. The G5 Sahel, the Accra Initiative and the FMM (Multinational Joint Task Force) are part of this desire to pool efforts to counter the jihadist threat. Despite significant results, these organizations are at a crossroads, even as security challenges continue to grow in the Sahel and inexorably spread to coastal countries. The G5 Sahel, which includes the states of the Sahel, faces difficulties, particularly with Mali’s withdrawal from the said organization for political reasons. In addition, with the latest putsch in Niger, the architecture of governance in the Sahel countries has fallen into a 4/5 score of military regime including three resulting from a coup (Mali, Burkina and Niger) and Chad, which is struggling to move towards a democratic transition. Only Mauritania remains a democratic regime at present. Despite recent attempts to reinvigorate cooperation, the survival of the G5 Sahel remains more threatened than ever. The FMM (Multinational Joint Task Force), its other neighbor, is also facing many challenges and an inability to stop definitively Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin. As for the Accra Initiative, which is an initiative of coastal countries, also struggles to take off despite joint military operations. The increasing pressure of armed terrorist groups with the multiplication of attacks in these coastal countries clearly demonstrates their objective of having access to maritime opportunities.

A Cross-reading of these regional mechanisms seems necessary in order to be able to draw lessons and make proposals focused on solutions for their survival.

Thus, the cross synthesis of the two interventions, in particular that of General Aimé Barthélemy SIMPORE, National Director of the Center for Strategic Studies of Burkina Faso and that of Mr. Emmanuel Odilon KOUKOUBOU, Specialist in Security Policies in the Sahel, demonstrated that territorial discontinuities, insufficient approaches and tools, but above all the problems of political instability in certain countries further complicate the dynamics with the persistence of a cross-cutting threat that undermines the effectiveness of these initiatives. In a different register, the lack of trust and distrust of certain countries, the interference of certain international partners make it difficult to achieve good convergence in the strategic vision of these initiatives. The financing of these initiatives poses another problem, because if the FMM (Multinational Joint Task Force) was able to count on the leadership and the very important financial contribution of Nigeria within the framework of the fight against Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin, the G5 Sahel has always been confronted with a problem of internal funding and remains fragile in the face of the influence of external partners. Regarding the Accra initiative, the collision between certain countries, which are also members of other neighboring initiatives, remains a challenge. Differences between approaches resulted in a lack of leadership, which hindered its effectiveness. This synergy of action which was to be its driving force is stuck to by national sovereigntist strategies such as the case of Burkina and Mali. Moreover, the resurgence of coups d'état in West Africa reveals the rise of a front in the central Sahel (Mali, Burkina, Niger) led by putschist military regimes versus the coastal, democratic and stable countries, constituting also a threat to the survival of the G5 Sahel and the Accra Initiative. A regression of democracy in West Africa can be fatal for the future fate of these initiatives.

Finally, the discussions revealed that the multiplicity of initiatives also constitutes an obstacle and creates a problem of coherence. The context is a context of overlapping problems and the threats must be identified and fought together. Among the options, mention was made of the need for a synergy of joint actions around a single mechanism to respond more effectively and circumscribe the discontinuity in the fight against the terrorist threat. It seems urgent to adopt a global and concerted response built on the lessons learned from existing initiatives to rethink a single regional mechanism under the leadership of ECOWAS, which includes practically all these countries that share common borders and problems.

In addition, the problems of development, governance and justice, which serve as fertile ground for terrorism, must be treated in priority by States.

These discussions were moderated by Mr. Soumaila LAH, Coordinator of the Citizens' Alliance for Support to Security Sector Reform in Mali, (AC-RSS)

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