Sahara Focus - Cover - August 2019
  • German Ambassador Dietrich Becker’s long overdue outspoken warning not to invest in Mali because of its corruption might persuade other international partners to take a tougher line with the Malian government and make it realise that it is its own worst enemy.
  • As it is, the Malian presidency and government are beginning to understand from the crisis in central Mali that bad governance and corruption provide the most fertile ground for the spread of jihadism.
  • The change of G5 Sahel (G5S) commander — coinciding as it does with the fifth anniversary of Operation Barkhane (the French anti-insurgent operation in the Sahel) — may help re-energise both forces and persuade them that ridding the region of jihadism cannot be done entirely by military means.
  • Peace agreements between Peul and Dogon armed groups, signed in the presence of the Malian premier, will help re-stabilise central Mali, but only if the government realises that this is the start of efforts to re-establish a state presence and better governance in the troubled region.
  • The Niger government’s readiness to reclassify the Termit and Tin-Toumma nature reserve, under pressure from Chinese oil interests, is a worrying development. The way in which both parties respond to domestic and international protests will be a measure of their much-trumpeted commitments to conservation and biodiversity.
  • The Niger government’s aim of restoring 213,000 hectares a year of arable land is over-optimistic. If it can achieve that much every five years it will be a substantial achievement.
  • Chad’s impoverished dictatorship struggles on. However — with seemingly increased insecurity in both the north and east, and civil unrest simmering nearer at home — it is questionable how much longer President Idriss Déby’s regime can remain in place. The president’s latest assortment of friends suggests that it may not survive for long.
  • Mauritania has a new president. From his first couple of weeks in power, it is difficult to tell whether he will continue corrupt and authoritarian practices from the Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz regime or will usher in the progressive reforms that the country urgently needs.

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