CategoryRadicalization

Fragile Security or Fatale Liaisons? Reflections on 2 March 2018 Attacks in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, by Sten Hagberg

On Friday 2 March 2018 around 10 o’clock, two coordinated of terrorist attacks took place in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. The first attack involved gunmen seeking to enter the Embassy of France, exchanging fire with soldiers from Burkinabe and French special forces. Four gunmen were killed in the attack against the Embassy, and no casualties among the special forces. The second attack took place a few minutes later. A vehicle stuffed with explosives detonated at the Chief of Defence staff’s headquarters (État-major des Armées), followed by shootings between attackers and Burkinabe defence forces. Eight Burkinabe militaries were killed together with another four attackers. Moreover, there were many wounded in the headquarters. The car bomb seems to have targeted a high-level meeting of senior military staff of the G5 Sahel Joint Force. The blast destroyed the room where the meeting would have taken place had it not been relocated shortly before the attacks.

In total, the attacks led to 16 deaths, including eight assaulters. The number of wounded people amounted to some 80 persons. Yet in the afternoon the same day, French media outlets held that as many as 30 people had been killed. While this information was rejected by Burkinabe public authorities, and soon turned out to be false, it did fuel rumor and speculation, fear and anxiety. Continue reading

Prevention and militarization in Africa’s security governance by Linnéa Gelot

At the 27th African Union Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda, member states adopted a new funding model. The proposal by Dr Donald Kaberuka to institute an import levy of 0,2% on ‘eligible’ imports’ is widely hailed as a historic step forward for the organization and its ambitions to become independent and self-reliant. If implemented as expected, the Kaberuka model will fund the AU general budget and its programmes and is expected to raise approximately USD 1,2 billion beginning in 2017. Starting in 2017, each of the continent’s regions have committed to paying USD 65 m into the AU Peace Fund, which will enable Africa to fund 25% of the costs of AU peace operations. While this decision is imperative, I would like in this article to reflect on some of the broader challenges and trends in Africa’s security governance.

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RADICALIZATION AS A MIXED RESORT: THE DISILLUSIONED EUROPEAN

In a wealthy suburb of Nairobi there is a nightclub called Casablanca. It is owned by an Italian (probably part of what is called the Malindi mob), decorated in Arabic style and has a crowd of western businessmen, aid workers, some wealthy locals and high class prostitutes. In a corner, puffing on their water pipes, drinking an occasional beer, there is a crowd of young Somali men, some working for the current government in Somalia, some doing lucrative business in the war thorn country and others supporting the radical Islamist rebel group al Shabaab. They visit the place quite frequently and they feel at home they say, because the combination of crowd and environment resembles the countries where they grew up in Europe, North America or Australasia. There is a huge fellow who used to be a real talent in ice hockey until the day that he could no longer stand the fact that Somalia was going from bad to worse and he simply threw away his national passport and went back to a Somalia that he only knew from tales from relatives and through the catastrophic images in media. Naturally, due to his comprehensible size, he has since been hired as body guard to politicians and other strongmen in Mogadishu and elsewhere in the country. Currently he is looking for a new job and in the mean time hanging out with likeminded friends at Casablanca. Likeminded; yet some of them support the, in the West (but also in Kenya), much feared al Shabaab. Continue reading

On Sporadic Radicalism

Last week I participated in the third Marrakech Security Forum which this year focused on “Issues and security consequences of transition in North Africa”. It also included several panels on the consequences for the Sahel region, as well as the problem of drugs trafficking in West Africa. In this well-ordered event organized by Federation Africaine Des etudes Strategiques/Centre Marocain des Etudes Strategiques  there were participants from some 50 countries, about 120 men but only 10 women, clearly indicating the male biased interest in the security business. Participants came chiefly from the MENA region but to quite some extent also from francophone Africa south of the Sahara. It was a crowd of senior diplomats, high rank militaries and professors. It appeared that everyone was a director of one institute or another other. There were naturally also a number of Europeans and Americans. Many of the more than hundred, too brief, presentations were quite general statements on the political situation in North Africa and in the Sahel region. Interestingly U.S. officials and academics choose to humbly downplay the U.S. role in Africa in the years to come, except for in a few strategic countries. French officials raised concern over the situation in Algeria and also talked about the situation in the Sahel as “war” and showed concern for the increasing interconnectedness of militant Islamist groups in the region and all the way down to Nigeria. Participants from Africa South of the Sahara gave quite divergent views on the possibilities of an “African spring”, but the Sahelialists were equally afraid of developments around AQIM, Boko Haram and other radical groups. Continue reading

On Sporadic Radicalism

Last week I participated in the third Marrakech Security Forum which this year focused on “Issues and security consequences of transition in North Africa”. It also included several panels on the consequences for the Sahel region, as well as the problem of drugs trafficking in West Africa. In this well-ordered event organized by Federation Africaine Des etudes Strategiques/Centre Marocain des Etudes Strategiques  there were participants from some 50 countries, about 120 men but only 10 women, clearly indicating the male biased interest in the security business. Participants came chiefly from the MENA region but to quite some extent also from francophone Africa south of the Sahara. It was a crowd of senior diplomats, high rank militaries and professors. It appeared that everyone was a director of one institute or another other. There were naturally also a number of Europeans and Americans. Many of the more than hundred, too brief, presentations were quite general statements on the political situation in North Africa and in the Sahel region. Interestingly U.S. officials and academics choose to humbly downplay the U.S. role in Africa in the years to come, except for in a few strategic countries. French officials raised concern over the situation in Algeria and also talked about the situation in the Sahel as “war” and showed concern for the increasing interconnectedness of militant Islamist groups in the region and all the way down to Nigeria. Participants from Africa South of the Sahara gave quite divergent views on the possibilities of an “African spring”, but the Sahelialists were equally afraid of developments around AQIM, Boko Haram and other radical groups. Continue reading

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