Secretariat’s work

IFRI – Coastal countries of West Africa: New land of expansion for Sahelian jihadist groups?

25 May 2022

The security situation in the central Sahel has deteriorated to such an extent that the jihadist threat is now spilling over into the northern part of the West African coastal countries. The regions of the East and the Cascades in Burkina Faso or those of Sikasso and Kayes in Mali constitute rear bases allowing jihadist groups – and mainly Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) for the moment – to expand into Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, and to a lesser extent in Togo, Ghana, Senegal and Guinea. This jihadist territorial outgrowth will gradually give rise to increasingly endogenous jihadist cells in these States, made up of local recruits and who feed on the fragilities specific to the territories where they are developing: tensions of access to resources, community stigma potentially exacerbated by self-defence groups, existence of criminal networks quick to “jihadise” themselves. The spread of jihadist ideology from the Central Sahel beyond the southern borders is the engine for exploiting and transforming the frustrations and injustices that arise from these situations of fragility. As in the Central Sahel where the authorities became aware of this reality too late. For the coastal countries of West Africa, where the threat is still contained in intensity and geographically limited, there is still time to prevent a deterioration in the security situation. To do this, the authorities of these States must align civil and military responses that are adapted to the nature of the threat and that drastically reduce the extent of these fragilities.


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