ModernDemocracy.eu: Terrorism: The Sahel-5 are turning to Russia
Posted by: Berhane Habtemariam
Date: Monday, 13 December 2021
By Kester Kenn Klomegah
December 13, 2021
With renewed interest to uproot French domination, Russia has ultimately began its inroads into the Sahel region, an elongated landlocked territory located between north Africa (Maghreb) and west Africa region, and also stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea. While it remains largely underdeveloped and greater part of the population impoverished, terrorist organizations including Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are operating and have contributed to the frequent violence, extremism and instability in this vast region.
As usually Irina Filatova at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow explains in an emailed discussions that “Russia’s influence in the Sahel has been growing just as French influence and assistance has been dwindling, particularly in the military sphere. It is for the African countries to choose their friends, but it would be better to deal directly with the government, than with (mercenaries of the Russian) Wagner group, whose connection with the government was barely recognized.”
In very particular cases, she unreservedly suggested: “If they wanted the Russians to come and fight Islamist groups, it would be much better to ask the government to send regular troops. Wagner’s vigilantes are not responsible to anybody, and the Russian government may refuse to take any responsibility for whatever they do in case something goes wrong.”
According to many experts and researchers, the arrival of Russian mercenaries – thousands are estimated – w4ould jeopardize other external commitment to fighting terrorism, and limit development assistance from international organizations.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has oftentimes spoken against such collaboration, the use of Russian mercenaries in Africa. Instead, he has suggested pursuing the creation and deployment of the G5 Sahel Joint-Force and the United Nations Integrated Strategy (UNIS) for the Sahel could bring tangible progress. The countries in the region are particularly encouraged to adopt, with support from international partners, the necessary measures to fully implement the support plan in developing the region.
The Sahel-Sahara, the vast semi-arid region of Africa separating the Sahara Desert to the north and tropical savannas to the south, is as much a land of opportunities as it is of challenges. Although it has abundant human and natural resources, offering tremendous potential for rapid growth, there are deep-rooted challenges – environmental, political and security – that may affect the prosperity and peace of the Sahel.
For this reason, the United Nations has come up with a unique support plan targeting 10 countries to scale up efforts to accelerate prosperity and sustainable peace in the region. Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, The Gambia, Guinea Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal. The creation and deployment of the G5 Sahel Joint-Force and the United Nations Integrated Strategy (UNIS) for the Sahel could bring tangible progress.
The best is to consider national and regional institutions, bilateral and multilateral organizations, the private sector and civil society organizations to work towards operationalizing and implementing the United Nations Security Council resolutions on the Sahel aim at attaining regional peace, and further to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).