ANALYSIS: Burkina Faso Is Becoming A Battlefront In The War On Terror - By Andrew Korybko.
21.08.2017-Moscow/ Burkina Faso Is Becoming A Battlefront In The War On Terror
A group of armed jihadists took over a Turkish restaurant in the Burkinabe capital of Ouagadougou over the weekend and ended up killing at least 18 people before the security forces put an end to the hostage ordeal. This isn’t the first time that the landlocked West African state has been struck by terrorists, but Sunday night’s attack corresponds to an uptick in regional violence which has seen neighboring Mali hit over and over again all across its large desert-strewn northeastern territory. Therefore, what’s essentially happening in Burkina Faso is that the militancy in Mali is finally spilling across the border and threatening to spark a regional crisis, and all of this is in spite of the French, African Union, and UN forces in the country.
Paris decisively intervened in Mali in early 2013 in order to destroy a rapidly expanding caliphate that Al Qaeda had created there after exploiting a Tuareg rebellion over the past year before, which itself was greatly aided by the free flow of weapons and fighters from NATO-wrecked Libya. Since that time, France has had difficulty keeping the peace in this bitterly divided country and has sought to outsource its leadership responsibilities to its regional partners, but to little avail. As the casualties mount and a combination of Islamic terrorists and Tuareg rebels continue to go on the asymmetrical guerrilla offensive, Mali looks more and more look it’s becoming a West African version of what Somalia was in the 1990s.
It was previously thought that Burkina Faso was one of Mali’s most stable neighbors, but this illusion was shattered after the People’s Uprising in 2014 overthrew long-term strongman Blaise Compaore and a counter-coup attempt by his loyal security service members was put down a year afterwards. Since then, observers began to become concerned about the fragility of this gold-rich Muslim-majority country of 17 million people. Moreover, Burkina Faso occupies a very strategic role in hosting US and French anti-terrorist military facilities, and its pivotal location at the geographic heart of the regional integration organization ECOWAS, or the Economic Community Of West African States, means that it’s primed to function as an important transit state for road and rail connectivity among the bloc’s members.
It’s difficult to gauge the prospects of Burkina Faso becoming a jihadist battleground in the near future, but all indications point to Mali’s many problems continuing to spill over its poorly guarded and highly porous border with its southern neighbor, which in turn risks encouraging "mission creep” by the US and France as they consider boosting their military presence there in order to protect their interests. As such, this also places them dead center in the heart of ECOWAS and bestows them with unparalleled power to influence the bloc’s integrational prospects in the future and possibly disrupt or control any of China’s forthcoming New Silk Road plans for the region.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.
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