Sahel: failure to communicate disrupts cross-border operations

Analysts have almost frantic when commenting on the current security climates in both Mali and Burkina Faso in recent weeks.

However an incident that occured over the weekend of 16th November which has puzzled some analysts and has led to snap judgements by others. But there are several key points that need to be realized.

There has been a series of incidents in both countries recently where Jihadists have launched attacks on both security forces and mining Interests in both Countries. It was after one such incident where Malian Troops crossed into Burkina Faso and killed three Militants. This is where the issue of contention arises.

Under the terms of the Sahel 5 accord Members states which also include Mauritania, Niger and Chad can cross over into a neighbor in pursuit of an attacking force for up to 50 km. The beef between these two countries suggests that a failure to communicate existed during a fluid situation.

Despite the glowing Press Releases announcing the Sahel 5 force Coordination of responses and other communication issues have dogged response times to incidents as they occur. Efforts by France and the United States to provide key logistical support and traning have not borne fruit yet since their efforts in the region since the launch of ‏Operation Barkhane. 

On November 21st, President Emmanuel Macron of France reportedly announced that France will be asking its NATO Allies for increased assistance for Operations in the region. This ties in nicely with the remarks that were recently made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the Campaign against IS will be shifting to the Sahel as well.

It has also been revealed that the Czech Republic will be taking over the EU Mission that is supporting Mali as well.

The United States has brought its UAV base in Agadez, Niger online as well. Will this be a first step in the resurgence of a US presence in the region? There has been an interesting symmetry in the strategies of both the United States and France in the Sahel. Working on the details regarding the Sahel 5 may be another step in this process. 

Scott Morgan

Love @Steelers and @Yankees also blog at Confused Eagle District of Columbia, USA

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