The Niger-Mali Border: Subordinating Military Action to a Political Strategy

Since Mali’s 2012 crisis, jihadist groups have capitalised on local unrest and the state’s weak presence in northern Mali to establish a foothold and launch cross-border attacks against the Nigerien army. Efforts to curtail jihadists’ expansion have involved mostly military operations; the results, thus far, have been unconvincing. The use of militias to fight jihadists has aggravated intercommunal conflict and arguably played into militants’ hands.

To prevent a new insurgency in the Sahel, the Nigerien government and its Western partners should subordinate military action to a political approach that includes efforts to engage in dialogue, even with militants. They also should pursue a longer-term strategy of disarmament and reconciliation among communities along the border.

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