• The Gambia

    West African troops have extended their military mission in Gambia by one year after entering the country in January to force out longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh, regional bloc ECOWAS said on Monday. About 500 ECOWAS troops remain in Gambia of the original 7,000 that crossed over from neighboring Senegal to compel Jammeh to go into exile and leave the presidency to Adama Barrow, who defeated him in a December election. Soldiers from the mission, known as ECOMIG, came under attack last Friday by locals in Jammeh’s native village of Kanilai, Interior Minister Mai Ahmed Fatty said in a televised statement, underscoring unresolved tensions from Jammeh’s 22-year rule.

  • Burkina Faso

    Officials say that French soldiers deployed to Mali to fight against Islamic extremists have killed at least 20 jihadis at the country’s border with Burkina Faso. French Operation Barkhane said Friday that activities carried out by soldiers from Sunday to Thursday in the Serma forest left 20 jihadis “out of combat.” It said the operation began with airstrikes followed by soldiers on land, but it didn’t specify how the jihadis were killed. A resident says various Islamic extremists are active in the forest, including Macina Liberation Front members, jihadis from Burkina Faso and Islamic State group members. The resident spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

  • IS returnees

    For the last two years, Moroccan authorities have been cracking down on Islamic State (IS) fighters’ returning from the battlefields in Syria and Iraq. While they have been accused of turning a blind eye to the departure of hundreds of volunteers to jihad in the early days of the conflict in 2012, authorities are now arresting returnees, fearing they would get involved in terrorist activities at home. This zero tolerance policy on returnees has prevented many from coming back to Morocco, with some remaining in Turkey, according to sources close to Salafists Al-Monitor spoke with. Khalil Idrissi, a lawyer who has defended several returnees, draws attention to their motivations to return home. Many had been lured with promises of money, he told Al-Monitor, while others dreamed of living under their own interpretation of Islam and came back to their country disappointed with their experience with IS.

  • African security

    The countries of West Africa’s Sahel region have requested $56 million from the EU to help set up a multi-national force to take on Islamist militant groups across the vast, arid region. The sparsely populated region has attracted a growing number of jihadist groups, some affiliated with al Qaeda and Islamic State. The G5 Sahel countries — Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Mauritania — have proposed the creation of a capable and mobile regional task force, the mission of which would be to tackle the cross-border Islamist threat.

  • Terrorism

    West African nations, facing a growing threat from Islamist militants, are set to deploy a military force to augment the 15,000-strong UN peace-keeping force which, so far, has failed to deal effectively with the insurgency. The militants gave been attacking not only UN peacekeepers in Mali, but have expanded their area of operations beyond Mali’s borders. The growing wave of attacks has led the G5 Sahel group – a recently formed alliance of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mauritania — to agree to assemble a 4,000-strong force by the end of the year.

  • Mali

    The current mandate of Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) ends in June. The International Crisis Group has called on the Security Council to renew the mandate – but with stronger political and civil affairs components and a greater role for the peacekeepers in local reconciliation. The ICG questions the wisdom on focusing only on increasing the military capabilities of MINUSMA.

  • Terrorism in Africa

    Leaving aside the mismatched ethno-linguistic groupings included in the vast territory stretching from Eritrea and Somalia in the east to Mauritania in the west, ISIS’s interest in establishing a presence in that part of Africa has long been a part of its vision for a global caliphate. Battlefield setbacks in ISIS’s strongholds in Iraq and Syria since 2015, however, raise questions of what impact this will have for ISIS’s African aspirations.

  • 2017 armed conflict

    Deaths from conflict worldwide fell to 157,000 last year compared to 167,000 in 2015. Yet, the IISS 2017 Armed Conflict Survey notes that in parallel, there has been a rise in the number of intractable conflicts that have the potential to flare at short notice. Four of the ten most lethal conflicts in 2017 were in Africa: Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Nigeria (the non-African states on the list are Syria, Mexico, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Turkey).

  • 2017 Armed conflict: Africa

    The IISS 2017 Armed Conflict Survey describes the security picture for Africa as “mixed.” Fatalities in the sub-Saharan region are quite high, but they have actually gone down, falling from 24,000 in 2015 to 14,000 in 2016. There have been some successes in the fight against Boko Haram, but there is very, very little cause for optimism for the sub-Saharan Africa region. The conflicts in South Sudan, Somalia, and the Central Africa Republic (CAR) have got worse, displacement rates are at an all-time high. “One of the aspects that continue to fuel the conflicts is ongoing state weakness and lack of legitimacy of state institutions and governance problems in most African countries,” says the Survey’s editor.

  • Morocco

    Moroccan supporters of Emanuel Macron’s En Marche! party said they would not support the party’s candidate in the legislative election for the French parliament. Eleven of the 577 voting districts are in former French colonies, and Macron has chosen Leila Aichi, a 46-years old French-Algerian lawyer, to be his party candidate in the 9th district, which covers Morocco. She is a vocal supporter of the separatist Polisario movement, which has been fighting for independence of Western Sahara. Morocco regards Western Sahara as part of Morocco.

  • Morocco

    Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said that Morocco’s return to the African Union unifies Africa. Mogherini, added that regional cooperation and integration are important for the prosperity, stability, and peace of the continent. She noted that “Morocco and the African Union are basic partners of the European Union.” MWN reports that in January 2017, Morocco, supported by 39 AU member states out of a total of 54, was re-admitted to the organization as a full-fledged member, ending a 33-year-long absence.

  • Muslim Africa

    Africa is home to nearly 30 percent of the world’s Muslims, but the role of Islam in allowing Africans to transcend parochial identities and differences has not been appreciated. “Africa has been represented in academia as well as in popular representations as a continent of warring tribes. Look at the coverage of Africa in most TV channels. It is most of the time about tribal conflicts. What I argue in my book is that large sections of West African peoples have, in the past and the present, proven their ability to transcend parochial identities and differences in a common cause and have indeed claimed their independence of thought and common destiny. More than anything else, this is embodied in a long literary tradition in the Arabic and in African languages written with the Arabic script,” says Harvard professor Ousmane Kane, author of Beyond Timbuktu: An Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa.

  • Technology sector

    Africa is coming online rapidly. Internet penetration in the continent is growing faster than in any other region in the world, giving millions more people access to better communication, information and business opportunities. Although only around 20 percent of people in Africa have internet access (compared to a global average of 40 percent), this has increased from less than 5 percent ten years ago.

  • Epidemics

    The 2013-2016 West African Ebola epidemic dwarfed all previous central African outbreaks of the virus, sickening more than 28,000 people and killing more than 11,000 of them. New study of the epidemic reveals insights into factors that sped or slowed the rampage – for example, that the epidemic unfolded in small, overlapping outbreaks with surprisingly few infected travelers sparking new outbreaks elsewhere, each case representing a missed opportunity to break the transmission chain and end the epidemic sooner. Scientists call for using real-time sequencing and data-sharing to contain future viral disease outbreaks.

  • Wildfires

    West Africa is changing rapidly. An explosively growing population, massive urbanization, and unregulated deforestation modify the composition of the atmosphere, thus affecting weather and climate. How exactly these emissions are changing the region in the long term is not clear. The EU-funded project Dynamics-aerosol-chemistry-cloud interactions in West Africa (DACCIWA) studied the air over the coastal region of West Africa with the help of research aircraft and ground stations.

  • Sahel storms

    The Sahelian storms are some of the most explosive storms in the world, containing clouds that can grow to a height of 16km above the ground. In 2009 a downpour of 263mm over several hours forced 150,000 residents of Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso, to leave their homes. Global warming is responsible for a tripling in the frequency of extreme West African Sahel storms observed in just the last thirty-five years.

  • Water security

    The amount of groundwater in Africa is estimated to be over 100 time’s greater than annual renewable freshwater sources. Around one million hand pumps supply groundwater to people in rural Africa. Groundwater is used by around 200 million rural Africans every day because it is a widely available, reliable and safe source of drinking water. Yet according to a new research, although groundwater is critical to Africa’s growth and development, there is currently too little data to effectively manage this critical resource.

  • Food security: West Africa

    The security situation in northeast Nigeria has continued to improve, but humanitarian assistance needs are still high. Humanitarian aid has increased, but it is not enough to satisfy the needs of much of the affected population. In most parts of the region, prices for staples foods have reached their seasonal high as a result of depleted household stocks and the increased demand in markets. However, most parts of West Africa will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) until September 2017, thanks to above-average 2016/17 agricultural production, sufficient imports of rice and wheat, well stocked markets, and the implementation of usual coping strategies.

  • Food security

    Nearly 25 percent of the world’s malnourished population lives in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 300 million people depend on corn, or maize, as their main food source. Maize is the most widely harvested agricultural product in Africa and is grown by small farmers who rely heavily on rainwater rather than irrigation. The crop is therefore extremely sensitive to drought, and since 2015 its production has fallen dramatically as a result of record-setting drought conditions across southern and eastern Africa.

  • U.S. military

    Over the past several years, French troops have battled Al Qaeda’s North Africa affiliate and other Islamist extremists in Mali, and have helped African troops thwart Boko Haram, a violent militancy that has spilled from Nigeria to attack Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. The Islamic State is also a looming threat. In the latest sign of an emerging regional collaboration, five countries within the Sahel — Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad — announced recently that they would create three border areas for military patrols and operations. French troops are advising and assisting these units. The Trump administration, which is already fighting the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria and weighing whether to send several thousand more American troops to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban, has been only too eager to continue Obama-era policies of providing financial, logistical and intelligence support to France in this region. By doing so, it hopes to avoid having to put American combat forces on the ground in yet another global hot spot. American and French officials say their close military and counterterrorism partnership will continue unchanged after the election last week of Emmanuel Macron as France’s next president.