Thursday, 14.10.2021

PSCC Talk : Reflection on a "shared strategy" for effective security cooperation and partnership in the Sahel-Sahara

As part of its virtual conferences called "PSCC Talk", the Peace and Security Competence Centre Sub-Saharan Africa of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation organised on Thursday 14 October 2021 via zoom a virtual Round Table on the theme: "Reflection on a "shared strategy" for an effective cooperation and security partnership in the Sahel-Sahara". In line with the regional conference "Sahel-Sahara Dialogue", the virtual Round Table aimed firstly at stimulating the debate of ideas between MENA and Sahel countries to promote better cooperation between them in the face of common security challenges; secondly, to reflect on relevant mechanisms and inclusive strategic responses to prevent and combat terrorism that promote inter-state cooperation in the region; and thirdly, to prepare for the 3rd edition of the Sahel-Sahara Dialogue regional conference.

For years, the countries of the Sahel-Saharan region and West Africa have been grappling with a succession of political, humanitarian and security crises with negative impacts on peace and development. Insecurity in the region is fuelled by, among other things, the establishment of radical Islamist groups, organised cross-border crime, conflicts over resources, and unresolved political and socio-economic tensions. This situation is facilitated by the vastness of the territories, porous borders, limited capacities of the states in the region, lack of political will and absence of clear strategies at national level. The typology of these destabilising security challenges and threats and their transnationality therefore calls for an integrated response from the Sahel-Sahara and West African states. Despite major efforts to ensure stability and lasting peace in the Sahel-Sahara, it must be said that the solutions proposed remain insufficient or even ineffective to date. New arrangements (G-5 Sahel, MNJTF) are thus being created in the Sahel to try to eradicate the permanent insecurity and instability in this region. But the inconsistent approaches of international partners have led to misunderstandings, which limits their effectiveness and reduces the will to collectively address common security challenges.

The question therefore arises very bluntly:

  • How can a dynamic of Sahelo-Saharan and intra-Maghreb cooperation be established to effectively address the multidimensional security challenges in this region?
  • What inclusive political approaches and which key actors should be favoured in the realisation of such cooperation?
  • What role could Maghreb states play in promoting security in the Sahel-Sahara?
  • What are the key factors that prevent the achievement of peace and stability in the Sahel-Sahara region and how can they be addressed?
  • How can Sahelo-Saharan cooperation be developed to meet the security and development needs of the region?
  • What innovative means of conflict prevention and regulation should be promoted to complement the classic mechanisms that have shown their limits?

These are all questions to which a variety of participants (practitioners, academics, researchers, journalists, representatives of civil society organisations, defence and security forces think-tanks) from the Sahel, the Maghreb, West Africa and even Europe tried to provide pragmatic answers. The conference, which was moderated by Colonel Christian Emmanuel POUYI, Analyst at the African Centre for Studies and Research on Terrorism (Algiers), was moderated by Dr. Laeed ZAGHLAMI, Professor at the University of Algiers 3 and Associate Professor at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Politique d'Alger, Expert at the Algerian Diplomatic Institute and International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The discussions revealed that coordinated and collective approaches addressing the root causes of the current crises are urgently needed to respond effectively to hybrid and dynamic security threats. In the Sahel-Sahara and West Africa, the challenge is certainly the communitarisation of security, i.e. the possibility of considering security in a collective manner. It will be necessary to act flexibly and inclusively and to obtain the support of governments and the population. States are therefore called upon to coordinate their actions and policies to prevent their territory from being used as a base for criminal and terrorist groups that exploit the fragility of the countries' institutions and aggravate the already precarious security situation in the region. This means integrating national security policies into a comprehensive Sahelo-Saharan security and defence policy to promote better collective security in the face of security challenges in this region and in West Africa.

Paix et Sécurité Centre de Compétence Afrique Subsaharienne

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