The Corona virus should change global politics. The speed and scale of its transmission, and the severity of its impact is not, we know now to our cost, fake news. As the virus rapidly tracks people vectors world-side, the control of its impact is inextricably linked to the availability of resources and depth of governance. For these reasons, global leaders should focus on its impact among the most vulnerable, and in particular in Africa.
In a time when processes of opening and regional integration elsewhere seem to give way to the tightening of barriers and protectionist tendencies, on March 21th the African countries signed a historical agreement to launch AfCFTA, the world's largest free-trade area in terms of the number of Contracting Parties. Is this a real breakthrough for the country's development?
Defined by multiple dynamics of instability, the Lake Chad Basin represents a complex regional system. Over the last ten years, violent extremism has spread across the region as a result of Salafi-jihadi armed groups – Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad (JAS), commonly known as Boko Haram, and Islamic State in West African Province (ISWAP) – which gave impulse to regional security cooperation processes.
The Fulani are a large and internally diverse population spread across West and Central Africa, with their largest concentration in Nigeria. In very broad terms, they can be divided into two main categories: the (semi)-nomadic and transhumant pastoralists, who raise cattle and sheep and, contrary to popular belief, usually also cultivate crops on a subsistence basis; and settled Fulani, who are not pastoralists and live in urban areas and villages as traders, farmers, traditional rulers, educated professionals.
Cameroon is an example of an increasing number of countries confronting both separatist rebellions and jihadist-armed groups. Two characteristics are nevertheless remarkable in the Cameroonian case. First, the fact that unlike some countries facing similar crises, no confusion is possible between the two insurgent fronts (in terms of territory, social base, resources mobilization channels, tactical interests and even repertoire of violent action).
The Diffa region, in the southeastern part of Niger, has become a place for armed violence since February 2015, when it experienced the first attack by Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'Awati Wal-Jihad (JAS/Group of the People of Sunnah for Preaching and Jihad, commonly known as Boko Haram). Over the last two years, the patterns, nature and levels of violence in the region have transformed as a result of the humanitarian and security response and of the internal dynamics of the insurgency.
In the eyes of Western partners, the value of Chad’s political regime has decisively increased during the past decade, especially after France’s intervention in Mali in 2012. Having occupied the country’s highest position for nearly three decades, President Idriss Déby Itno is viewed by his international allies not only as a willing and reliable partner but also as an acute observer of the turbulent political landscape in the Sahel.
The Lake Chad region is caught in a conflict trap. Climate change and conflict dynamics create a feedback loop where climate impacts feed additional pressures while conflict undermines communities’ coping capacity. Whilst the region around the lake, bordering Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, is a priority for stabilisation efforts for many international and regional military actors, to date these efforts have failed to de-escalate the violence. Indeed, in some cases, military responses are making the situation worse.
2017 and 2018 had confirmed the pre-eminence of Boko Haram’s splinter faction known as the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), which broke away from Boko Haram’s historic leader Abubakar Shekau around mid-2016.
Since the beginning of 2020, of the three countries bordering Nigeria in the Lake Chad Basin, Cameroon has suffered the majority of civilian casualties caused by armed attacks by violent extremist groups (VEG), with over 50 deaths. Meanwhile, approximately 20 and 10 civilian deaths have been recorded in Niger and Chad respectively. Of these, Chad is the only country to have registered casualties amongst security and defense forces, nine so far this year. Attacks recorded during the first two months of 2020 represent continuity in trends from 2019.