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How the World’s Great Powers Are Exacerbating the Security Crisis in the Sahel

Malian soldiers parade as they arrive by military vehicle at Independence Square in Bamako on August 18, 2020, after rebel troops seized Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse in a dramatic escalation of a months-long crisis. AFP

Russia-MENA analyst and Oxford University PhD candidate Samuel Ramani argues in a compelling new article in Foreign Policy that a combination of narrow political agendas, unilateral actions and a bias towards supporting authoritarian governments by France, the U.S., Russia and China are all contributing to a worsening security environment in the volatile Sahel region.

“Due to their intense focus on geostrategic competition and willingness to equate authoritarianism with stability, great powers such as France, the United States, Russia, and China, have actually perpetuated conditions, such as corruption and fragile state institutions, that contribute to rising political violence in the Sahel,” said Ramani.

Key Highlights From Samuel Ramani’s Foreign Policy Article on Great Power Politics in the Sahel

  • CHINA’S HALF-HEARTED POLICY IN THE SAHEL: “In spite of its desire to extend the Belt and Road Initiative into the Sahel, China has only offered ambiguous rhetorical solidarity with the G-5 bloc’s counterterrorism goals.”
  • AFRICAN STAKEHOLDERS ALSO TO BLAME: “Many observers have criticized the African Union for not deploying the African Standby Force to the Sahel, as some of its member states prefer ad hoc rather than longer-term deployments…Because of its abdication of responsibility, ECOWAS’s pledge to spend $1 billion on Sahel security from 2020 to 2024 has been thinly spread and left individual counterterrorism initiatives short of funds. ECOWAS’s failure to mitigate Mali’s ongoing political crisis has further undercut its credibility as a security provider in the Sahel.”

Read the full article on the Foreign Policy website.

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