Tag Archives: terrorism

African Armies Governance: An expected transformation

Last year I wrote an article emphasizing the climate of uncertainty which prevailed within several African military institutions in particular Chad, Ivory Coast and Somalia, to take only these examples. Several countries being in phase of reconstruction because of successive military and political crises, know difficulties rebuilding their armies and maintaining a certain cohesion or often an exemplary discipline. Gambia, Mali and Burkina Faso, are examples of country among which the armies for diverse reasons, remain fragile in spite of all the efforts of current reconstruction.

One must recognize that, the largest number of countries which armies are fragile, is because of internal crises and because of political manipulation of the military tool. The political instrumentalization for purposes of positioning, remains the main cause of the diverse unrests but you should not either hide the insufficiency of governance of these armies. The case of Chad reminds us of how much the non-payment of bonuses due to soldiers who intervened within a UN framework, is an aberration regarding  the governance of the defense sector. Worse, the Chadian President requested the international financial support, to support the actions of his soldiers in Mali within the framework of the fight against terrorism and it was the object of no reaction. Let us not forget that Chad remains one of the most committed countries in the fight against terror.

How do these countries manage not being able to settle arrears of bonuses promised in a context or an other one? How do they manage not to anticipate these unrests within the armies being regularly transformed into mutinies? It seems that the weaknesses of these countries are at the level of the governance of their armies. A Coherent and active governance of the Defense sector effectively allows to anticipate major crises such as mutinies. The governance of the Defense sector rests essentially on the bodies of the armies in charge of governance, which are  the inspection and control services, contributing to the stability of the military institution. Besides another mechanism of anticipation and governance of the Defense sector is the National Assembly which through democratic control of the armies, provides coherent governance of the military and alerts on possible deficiencies to consider. In fact this is about a major gouvernance watch device based on internal mechanisms to the armies (inspection and control) but also over external mechanisms (Civil society, NGOs, National Assembly, etc.) to anticipate crises which can destabilize the concerned countries.

So, the transformation of African armies on the basis of a sincere commitment of the decision-makers, is imperative more than ever. The general unrest of the armies which very often is only an accumulation of dysfunctions from inheritance, must be handled frontally with realism and political courage. When it turns out to be necessary, a simple revision can settle this discontent through a Security Sector Reform (SSR), in the worst case, a revival (dissolution and reconstruction) of the armies is inevitable. In any case, a brave political will matched by a consequent defence budget, determines the success of such an initiative, wether it is about restructuring, revision, or dissolution with the aim of reconstruction.

Outside the African continent, several countries experimented the dissolution of the armies with mixed results (Costa Rica, Haiti and Panama). For Costa Rica and Panama, the effort was put on a well equipped police force and Defense agreements, as for Haiti, which had dissolved its army in 1996, reconstruction was engaged since 2014. We thus recommend on the basis of this observation of general unrest of the African armies, that the African Union ( AU) can convene an emergency meeting to examine this thorny question and to establish an African special program for armies reconstruction of countries wishing it. This program could be financed by the AU countries themselves but also with the bilateral and multilateral cooperations. Finally, A fund raising campaign could support this vast continental program.

Cyber Warfare – Olivier Dubois

Surprisingly enough, the SCID program is relatively silent on cyber warfare. It is briefly referred to in relation with the so-called new terrorism: terrorist groups would have the ability to carry out ‘electronic terrorist attack targeting critical infrastructure’ (Department of Criminology, 2013). This is a very narrow part of what constitutes nowadays cyber warfare and by no means does it capture the stakes of the current cyber arm race.

As with many new concepts, there is no universal accepted definition of the term. Most definitions underline the use of computers and digital means in a coordinated manner by a government or a non-state group with a purpose of causing disruption and/or damage (Sakharian, 2013; Andress, 2013). The target of a cyberwar is computers, networks and digitally controlled devices. If the objective may not be destructing physical infrastructure or killing people, the impacts of cyber operations cannot be contained to the digital world. It is not solely about offering a bloodless military superiority or an economic advantage (Kirsch, 2012). To the contrary, the US department of defence’s Laws of War manual (DoD, 2015) is explicit in recognising that certain cyber operation do constitute use of force in the meaning of Art. 2 § 4 of the UN charter. It cites Operations ‘ that: (1) trigger a nuclear plant meltdown; (2) open a dam above a populated area, causing destruction; or (3) disable air traffic control services, resulting in airplane crashes’ (DoD, 2015: 989). It is reported that more than 100 States are developing some forms of cyberwar capacity (Limnell, 2016).

As in our daily lives, the frontier between the digital and physical world is increasingly becoming difficult to identify. Cyber operations are equally challenging legal and policy boundaries. From a legal standpoint, the fact that a major military power like USA explicitly consider that cyber operations are submitted to both Jus ad Bellum and Jus in Bello (IHL) does not solve everything. Recognising a cyber operation as an act of war is important as it may influence the type of counter measure the victims may consider. It may as well contain policy makers in taking aggressive actions (Lin 2012). However, this restraining frame may be completely ineffective as the imputability or the attribution of a cyber operation to its perpetrator remains extremely difficult (Dortmans 2015, Lin 2012). As a result, waging an cyber attack is extremely low-cost and risk-free compared to the pay off (Limnell, 2016). States have still to learn to operate an adapted range of countermeasures to cyber attack in avoiding to make mistake that could jeopardise their political credit or cause an unwanted escalation in the conflict (Limnell, 2016). The danger of unwanted escalation is real. As a technological arm race is ongoing, states have little time to properly assess the effect of the arsenal and could be nevertheless tempted to unleash it.

The layers are at a loss. Applying IHL rules on the conduct of hostilities to cyber attack is thus extremely difficult and efforts of experts who have proposed to NATO the Tallinn Manual on the International Law applicable to Cyber Warfare is not entirely convincing (Schmitt, 2013). In the absence of precise knowledge on the offensive capacities of cyber weapons, it is very difficult to operationalise and respect the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions (Droege, 2012). There is an urgent need for a new treaty banning certain cyber weapons and/or creating new regulatory and surveillance authority such as the one existing for chemical weapons or for atomic energy.

Political scientists are at bay, too. Policy framework and guidance have to be adapted to this new reality to ensure that cyberspace is not transformed in a wild battlefield. Regional or collective early warning system for aggressive cyber activity are inexistent. Cybersecurity and cyber warfare are ‘team sport’ where international cooperation is key. Old times alliances created for responding to threats in the physical world need to be shaken up to meet the challenge. International commission of investigation or international fact-finding missions on alleged cyber warfare activities are yet to be created or even suggested in the corridors of New York. Is it so utopian to imagine negotiating cyber cease-fire and mandating cyber observers, to be nicknamed the “Blue Tablets”, as modern peacekeepers for monitoring it? The new wars of the nineties have shaken the whole approach to peacebuilding. Cyber warfare offers a similar shift of paradigm. Let us not wait a ‘Cyber-Srebrenica’. Let us prevent it by thinking and acting out of the box now.


Andress, J. (2013) Cyber Warfare Techniques, Tactics and Tools for Security Practitioners, 2nd ed., Burlington: Elsevier Science.

Department of Criminology (2013), SCID module 6 Unit 3, Resource 1, Leicester: University of Leicester.

Department of Defence (2015) Law of War Manual, Washington DC: Department of Defence, available at http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/DoD_Law_of_War_Manual-June_2015_Updated_May_2016.pdf (last accessed 21 September 2016).

Dortmans, P., Thakur, N. and Ween, A. (2015) ‘Conjectures for framing cyberwarfare’ Defense & Security Analysis 31(3): 172-184.

Droege, C. (2012) ‘Get off my cloud: cyber warfare, international humanitarian law, and the protection of civilians’ International Review Of The Red Cross 94(886): 533-578.

Kirsch, C. (2012) ‘Science fiction no more: cyber warfare and the United States’ Denver Journal of International Law and Policy 40(4): 620-686.

Limnéll, J. (2016) ‘The cyber arms race is accelerating- what are the consequences?’ Journal of Cyber Policy, (1)1: 50-60.

Lin, H. (2012) ‘Cyber conflict and international humanitarian law’ International Review of the Red Cross, 94(886): 515-531.

Shakarian, P. (2013) Introduction to Cyber-Warfare A Multidisciplinary Approach, Burlington: Elsevier Science.

Schmitt, M. (2013) Tallinn manual on the international law applicable to cyber warfare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Human Rights based Counter Terrorism Strategy – Mark Dixon

There is a compelling argument to revise the prevailing Counter Terrorism (CT) strategies in order to move away from ones that undermine Human Rights (HR). The Institute for Economics and Peace Global Terrorism Index (GTI) (2016) reports fatalities from terrorist attacks have increased nine fold since 2000, arguably impacting on the pre text of counter terrorism (CT) strategies of many countries. The GTI also highlights 78% of all terrorist attack fatalities occur in five countries namely Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria with only 2.6% occurring in the West. Despite the realities of the terrorist threat in the West we have witnessed increases in CT budget’s and strategies that undermine HR. This has lead to criticisms of both military action in Afghanistan and other locations and domestic legislation in many Western countries. An example of controversial legislation would be the control order provisions of the UK Prevention of Terrorism Act (2005), which was later repealed. Walker (2007) suggesting whilst such UK legislation was an attempt to fulfil a duty to protect, significant elements of the UK CT legislative framework was constitutionally deficient, lacking accountability and breaching HR.

President Obama’s Executive Order 13491 (2009) banning the U.S. government’s use of torture was also a rebuke to the Bush administration policies following the 9/11 attacks which authorised the use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SCCI) (2014) reporting the CIA’s interrogation program had not produced unique or valuable intelligence, this was immediately countered by ex CIA officials by means of the CIA Saved Lives (2014) web site on which it was stated the interrogation program had disrupted terrorist plots. However, both parties’ arguments focus on the validity of the tactic being dependant on the veracity of the information obtained, completely ignoring the human, legal and social consequences of torture. The reality is increases in budgets, militarised activity, legislative enactments allowing breaches of HR, and other gross breaches of HR in the name of CT has not reduced the threat level. Schulz (2001) suggests any CT policy that does not respect HR is counter productive, advocating not only is a HR orientated CT strategy morally correct but would be more affective than the prevailing approach.

It would be argued Western CT strategies have focused on quick fix operational aims rather than strategic impact. As a result the impact on; the trajectory of the ‘war on terror’, inciting further extremism, the relationship between the US its allies and the wider Islamic global population, the West’s ability to legitimately promote democracy, human rights globally and security in post conflict or fragile states have not been considered. Western governments have failed to understand ideologies that manifest, as terrorism created as a consequence of real or perceived injustices cannot be resolved using traditional military interventions. A HR centred CT approach would be better equipped to challenge the ideologies that fuel terrorism across the globe. It is an understanding of political, social and economic grievances and an acknowledgement that not all terrorists or terrorist motivations are the same that is the key to undermining terrorism.

A starting point when considering a HR approach to CT would be HR are not a luxury we can enjoy during times of peace. Paust (2006) argues CT strategies that impact on civil liberties and limit democracy do more damage to HR than the acts of terrorism they seek to prevent. He cites the use of collective punishment tactics by Israeli authorities against families when one family member is allegedly involved in terrorist acts. He argues not only has this done nothing to reduce Palestinian terrorist attacks but has provided opportunity for those supporting violence to promote and reinforce their ideologies. It would be suggested CT strategies that have a human security focus based on HR principles rather than that of national security, would be better equipped to tackle the causes of terrorism. Whilst it is not being suggested attack planning plots should be ignored CT strategies that focuses exclusively on the violent outcomes of terrorist acts will have little success in reducing the threat as the grievances that drive the ideologies remain. This is a view held by the former head of the British Security Service, Baroness Manningham-Buller, (2011) who suggests states should seek political solutions and reconciliation in the context of terrorism as foreign policy directly affects conciliation efforts. She adds it is her belief that the UK involvement in the invasion of both Iraq and Afghanistan contributed to the radicalisation of some UK citizens and did little to assist the security of the UK.

HR based CT strategies need to be coordinated transnationally and delivered with international consensus. They need to mobilise and engender national and international support, with particular emphasis in those areas of the globe that are disproportionately affected by terrorism. They should also support the advancement of international law and HR thus in turn promoting peace, security, and the rule of law globally particular within post conflict environments and locations experiencing fragile governance. This would encourage and enhance democracy and provide the supporting conditions needed for a reduction in the grievances that manifest as terrorism and promote effective conflict transformation and state building.

Post Script

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 the Bush administration quickly framed the issues within the context of a ‘war on terror’ inferring some form of end game with winners and losers. This view failed to acknowledge terrorism itself is a tactic that can be potentially undermined or reduced but not eradicated. The response from the West was to adopt tactics suited to conventional military activity, leaving little space for any assessment of the grievances or motivations that was being represented through violent terrorist acts. The absence of any meaningful assessment exploring the broader implications of CT strategies that undermine HR resulting in a continuation of the prevailing attitudes.

Those who advocated human rights should not take precedents over the need to prevent terrorist attacks have opposed any debate suggesting the strategy adopted was an overreaction that could create social and political tensions and increase opportunities for radicalisation. This resulted in the absence of any meaningful dialogue and assessment of how a HR based approach to CT would be complementary to the ultimate aim of making people safe.

In the post 9/11 era immediate media reporting and globalisation has fuelled the popular misconception that international terrorism is one of the major threats to the West. However according to the World Economic Forum (2016) terrorism has not featured as a top ten global threat during the last ten years of reporting. Yet governments have chosen the option of immediate action focusing on operational aims rather than strategic outcomes. As a consequence we have seen a lack of international consensus and coordination in joint CT strategies that address the drivers of terrorism with emphasis rather on joint enforcement/military operations. Partnership working at an international level has been further complicated when considering that sovereign states have primary responsibility to protect their own citizens and combat terrorism in their county. However, when countries appear unwilling or unable to deliver against this and the threat posed is transnational in nature, challenges exist to both the international community and individual states in considering thresholds for intervention. The favoured option in these circumstances being military interventions for the purposes of expediency and short term gains.


Manningham-Buller, E. (2011) BCC Freedom, Securing Freedom: 2011 (episode 5), The Reith Lectures, London: BBC (44 mins) [online] available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b014pxnq (accessed on 19/07/2016).

CIA Saved Lives (2014) [online] available at https://ciasavedlives.com (accessed on 08/09/2016).

Institute for Economics and Peace (2016) Global Terrorism Index 2015 [online] available at http://economicsandpeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Global-Terrorism-Index-2015.pdf (accessed on 14/08/2016).

Paust J, J. (2006) ‘Human Rights, Terrorism and Efforts to Combat Terrorism’ in: J. Mertus and J. Helsing (eds.). Human Rights and Conflict. Exploring the Links between Rights, Law and Peacebuilding. Washington DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SCCI) (2014) Study on CIA Detention and Interrogation Program [online] available at http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/senate-intelligence-committee-study-on-cia-detention-and-interrogation-program (accessed on 08/09/2016).

Schulz, W, F. (2001) In Our Own Interest: How Defending Human Rights Benefits Us All, Boston: Beacon Press.

The National Archives UK Legislation (2005) Prevention of Terrorism Act (2005) [online] available at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2005/2/contents (accessed on 14/08/2016).

The White House President Barack Obama (2009) [online] available at Executive Order 13491 — Ensuring Lawful Interrogations https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/ensuring-lawful-interrogations (accessed on 09/09/2016).

Walker, C. (2007) ‘Keeping control of terrorists without losing control of constitutionalism’, Stanford Law Review, 59(5): 1395.

World Economic Forum (2016) Insight Report Global Risks 2016, 11th Edition, Geneva: World Economic Forum, [online] available at http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GRR/WEF_GRR16.pdf (accessed on 30/06/2016).

Security in Africa: perspectives for 2016!

The past year, had its “crop” of crises and victims on the African continent. The security balance sheet of year 2015 is thus mitigated enough. If we trust the 2015 Global Peace Index (GPI), published by Institute for Economics and Peace, insecurity globally stagnated from a point of view of its intensity. According to the GPI, we count among the most secure countries : Ghana, Botswana, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Tanzania and Gabon. It should be noted, that Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau, demonstrated the most remarkable national security level improvements. On the other hand, we notice among the “bad pupils” : South Sudan, CAR, Somalia, DRC, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Mali, South Africa and Burundi.

Several factors allow to estimate the level of safety on the continent. The threats are multiple and strike the African countries in diverse ways and with a relative intensity. Terrorism remains the major threat affecting countries as Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria and Mali. Politico-military crises (political instability) also affects countries such as Burundi, DRC, South Sudan and CAR. A high level of criminality also strikes Nigeria, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Angola and Libya. The small weapons illicit traffic affects all the regions of the continent, given the conflicts which occurred there and which continue (Libya, Mali, CAR, etc.). Maritime piracy, also continues to weaken exchanges in the African waters, especially in the Gulf of Guinea and Gulf of Aden (Somalia, etc.). Finally, the questions of the security sector governance, remain a concern, because the security systems of several African states, are failing and require in-depth reforms. We do not pretend, to cover all the issues which threaten those states, but this brief assessment allows us to realize the urgency, to take into account very quickly all these challenges by building a strong security sector governance and reinforcing the regional and international cooperation.

In 2015, we made a few recommendations based on a 2014 security assessment in Africa. Today, it seems  crucial to assess if those recommendations have been carried out and if so, how effective they have been?

1/ With regard to the issue of political violence and political crises generally, it should be noted, that several elections were positively conducted on the continent in 2015. Ivory Coast moreover surprised the international community by its political maturity. On the other hand, countries as Burkina Faso which finally held calmed elections at the end of the year, endured military coups, bringing disorder. The Year 2016 will be too, rich in presidential elections in particular in Gabon, DRC,  Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda and Benin. The conditions around some of these elections remain shady and conflicting. We thus recommend, in order to prevent pre-electoral, electoral and post-election tensions, the following : a) the signature of a charter of acceptance of democratic alternation by all political parties, to reiterate their respect for the democratic game; b) the signature of a charter of inviolability of the constitution by all political actors, to avoid any unconstitutional violence; c) the UN and AU support in the follow-up of the pre-electoral and electoral process by the installation of surveillance missions. These missions could include nationals of countries which had successful elections in 2015, such as Ivory Coast, Guinea and Burkina Faso; d) a strong mobilization of the civil society following the example of the ” Balai Citoyen” in Burkina Faso. Indeed, citizen mobilization so as to ensure transparent and democratic elections is more than necessary in Africa. Citizen watch has to express itself in the respect for the law and be taken into account by national leaders.

2/ Concerning the fight against terrorism, the continent mobilized militarily speaking. Indeed, several initiatives were taken or are in the course of execution, both at the coordination and operational levels, in particular the creation of a multinational mixed force ( 8700 men) by the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the G5 Sahel which organizes the installation of a joint integrated general staff. In a pragmatic way, all the current initiatives are essentially military, in regard to regional cooperation or combat equipment assistance or intelligence support or still in terms of capacity building of the African armies by the western armies. The civil dimensions of this merciless fight against terror spread by the Islamic State, Boko Haram, el Shabbab or Aqmi, remains neglected. Thus we recommend for 2016 the following measures: a) a regional and national mobilization for the implementation of sensitization and awareness politics, towards populations to thwart the psychological warfare engaged by these terrorist groups; b) the actual setting up at the national level, of watch groups in all the communities, to alert the authorities in case of threats; c) the increase of the Human Development Index (HDI), in every African country to break the link “ignorance-poverty-terrorism”; d) a greater commitment of the Muslim communities, in the fight against terror, by creating watch committees in order to foster awareness and sensitization; e) the effective creation of elite units specialized in counter terrorism, would be a main advantage; f) the formulation and implementation of national policies aimed at preventing and repressing any religious radicalisation!

3/ Concerning the post-crisis tensions which affect few countries, such as Burkina Faso, we suggest the following : a) the pursuit of any Security Sector Reforms (SSR) national program, in countries such as Mali and Ivory Coast. The formulation and implementation of a SSR national policy in countries as Burkina Faso, enduring a paralysis of its security systems is necessary. The SSR must be regularly monitored, by an independent mechanism, to ensure its coherence and its efficiency; b) the institution of viable mechanisms of human development, allowing to fight against the impoverishment of the African societies and so to reduce their vulnerability; c) the acceptance of the rules of good governance is critical for these countries, which in a context of recovery also have to create a mechanism in charge of promoting on one hand, integrity, transparency, ethics and accountability and on the other hand, sanctioning any breach in these principles.

4/ Regarding training and capacity building, the creation of civilian think tanks dedicated to strategic thinking, is on the agenda more than ever. Indeed, reflection remains the heart of anticipation and prevention. Several centres or institutes already exist regarding security on the continent in particular, The Institute for Security Studies (ISS, South Africa), the Moroccan Centre of Strategic Studies (CMES, Morocco) or still the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC, Ghana) and the Institute for Strategic Studies and Defence (IESD, Ivory Coast). The interaction between these centres and states, is critical to enrich research on the highly strategic matters. However, it is crucial that these centres are not just the consequence of a trend. Indeed, the example of the IESD is edifying, because since the launch of its activities in June, 2015, no activity was organized. Worse, the IESD does not have a management team, no recruitment was made, it has no headquarters and no training program. It is almost an empty shell.

5/ Finally, with regard to borders control, the African states are more than ever vulnerable, because having excessively permeable borders. Indeed, this porosity favors the traffics of every type from drug trafficking, to human trafficking. It is time for the African countries to consider borders control as an absolute priority. Sound national borders control policies must be formulated and implemented. The cross-border cooperation owes, too to be reconsidered and improved in particular in the monitoring of migration flows! Moreover, a better control of the borders contributes widely to the fight against several plagues of which terrorism.

So as to conclude, we have in a few words, covered critical issues to be addressed in 2016. It is up to African states, to welcome the strategic reflection with open arms, in order to enrich the existing state capacities. Besides it is urgent that the resolutions stemming from various meetings on security held in 2014 and 2015 (Dakar Forum , Tana Forum, etc.), see a beginning of implementation. To finish, the task can seem extremely difficult, however to reflect Antonio Gramsci’s famous quote,  ” even if we are pessimists because of intelligence, we have to be optimists because of will “.


Security in Africa: Three major challenges

The current events on the African continent are rich enough to remind us how much instability strikes the region but very often with the same denominators. North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa are confronted with common challenges such as terrorism, illegal immigration, problems of governance, military empowerment, etc. Moreover, the recent visits of King of Morocco in Senegal then in Ivory Coast, testify of the necessity of strengthening the regional cooperation. The stakes are multiple and rather complex to be all covered in this article. We are thus going to look at three major issues for the African countries to consider:

1/ The fight against terrorism: while the fight against AQMI, BOKO HARAM and AL SHEBBAB seems to stagnate, it is important to put in perspective the partial results of this ongoing fight. Indeed several leaders of those groups were neutralized by the special forces of ” qualified and equipped” countries. Moreover, sleeper cells were identified then handled in countries of the region. Is it sufficient when we know that the recruitment of the followers of religious extremism and its realization through terrorism, continues to make emulators?  It is unfortunately the most vulnerable populations which are the favourite targets of the recruiters of these extremist groups. In other words, the poor people are specifically targeted because very often or too often receptive to messages conveyed by these movements. We thus insist on the necessity for the African countries, to create effectively the conditions of human development for their populations, poverty must be fought. The redistribution of wealth has to be a reality once and for all in Africa. The armed struggle against these movements must too be maintained, but especially the anticipation of this threat has to be the keystone of this war. The African armies must be trained and supported in logistics by the West, to eradicate this permanent threat. Besides, the African States have to develop an inclusive African strategy of fight against this plague, based on the key role of communities. Finally, the raising awareness of the youngest, remains a success factor of this fight against terror. The African countries must be more active on the frontlines of psychological warfare against terrorism and to do so, they can outsource this merciless fight.

2/ The fight against illegal immigration: on this point, the current event reflects the urgency to act for the African governments. The images of illegal immigrants or refugees, piled up in boats and for many having died during their crossings towards Europe, shocked the world opinion. But did these images really move the African themselves? What about the mobilization of countries where these immigrants’ waves come from? What about the African solidarity in front of this drama, which testifies of a collective failure to ensure the human development on the continent and so to make it attractive for all these desperate persons? Let us not forget that all these migrants, fled their countries for a quest of human dignity somewhere else. Living in better conditions, free and far from the possible oppression of some regimes, that is what also motivates the illegal immigration. The time is for the mobilization of countries suppliers of these immigrants to create the conditions of their care and especially the conditions of their self-fulfilment on their lands of origin. Indeed it is of the responsibility of the Africans, to make attractive their countries not only for the foreign investments but especially to avoid these flows of refugees or immigrants. If the socioeconomic conditions were gathered, if these countries had a sustainable policy in favour of the citizen, job opportunities and a strategy of effective redistribution of wealth, we would not certainly be there! It is thus urgent that the continent, which aspires to emergence, begins to emphasize the human development. Why leave when one feels at home and cared about? Finally, let us not forget that these refugees are the visible face of the iceberg, but what about all those who cannot leave, who are in a total precariousness and thus vulnerable to terrorism and to crimes of any kind? Today, we think that the priority for the African Union ( AU), should be to set up a mechanism of fight against this massive illegal immigration then to dismantle the networks which are associated to it. The priority for the member states of the AU, has to be: the redistribution of the wealth, the emergence of a strong middle class, more jobs and a national attractiveness.

3/ The military empowerment: the North / South military cooperation is in a permanent imbalance. An imbalance widely in favour of the most advanced countries. The military-industrial complexes of these countries, are in a constant war of influence and economic warfare. The competition is rough to win markets with countries of the “South”, in search of stability and often little democratic. France, the United States, Israel and China, to quote only those, intervene either directly, thus officially (technical support, equipment, logistics, training, etc.), or indirectly, thus unofficially (covert operations, arms sales, discreet support for a regime, etc.). Every time, a common denominator: the economic interest, the regional positioning, etc. China has for example, a tradition of discreet arms sale, to regimes wishing to remain and undergoing rebellions. As for France, it operates openly in Mali for a certainly noble cause but obviously interested. The United States too, intervene discreetly in the training and the logistic backup, in particular in the fight against terrorism and regarding intelligence. The strategy of influence is thus very active in Africa on the military sector. The empowerment of the African countries regarding security and defence, should constitute a priority for their leaders. How to create the conditions of a credible national defence, a capacity to defend oneself only then within a coalition? The example of Ivory Coast is edifying on this question of the autonomy. Indeed, by creating with the support of France, an Institute of Strategic Studies and Defence, Ivory Coast makes a commitment on the ground of regional training, thus capacity building. Capacity building, is the basis of empowerment in the sector of security and defence. The African Union and the sub-regional organizations, should urgently, accelerate their reflections on the strategic autonomy which would allow the African to assume without complex , their security on the continent. We suggest that the African countries, actually emphasize training and equipment. All this, that must obey a precise and coherent sequencing. These countries, should formulate national security policies, laws of military and security programming and by effectively implementing them. Finally it would be useful for some African countries, not able for multiple reasons to aspire to military autonomy, to consider the example of Costa Rica, which chose to have no army but a strong police. To ensure its national defence, Costa Rica signed a military agreement with the United States, which are ready to intervene if needed. This measure allowed Costa Rica to dedicate its budget to education, environment, training, research and tourism. Costa Rica is not thus autonomous militarily but it is an emerging country.

These three security related issues are only a tiny part of the challenges facing Africa. The continent presents in spite of all the troubles which it faces, indicators favorable to its emergence, such as the massive investments. It is important that the African leaders meet around a table, to review all the challenges of the continent and bring it viable, inclusive and coherent solutions, once and for all. By putting in the center of this collective reflection, ” the African citizen “. To resume Antonio Gramsci’s quotation, it will be a matter for the African leaders “to ally the pessimism of the mind with the optimism of the will “.




Anti-Terrorism in Africa: A multidimensional strategy!



The terrorist attacks which shook France for 72 hours between January 07th and January 9th, 2015, transposed in a rough way on the French territory, the horror lived in sub-Saharan Africa by the populations and the powerless states. Indeed, the balance of the attack is heavy, 3 shot down terrorists, 17 dead victims, about 20 wounded persons and the affected millions of French, all this in 3 days. Only the sporadic attacks of Boko Haram in Nigeria can boast about such macabre balance which very often are heavier. It is not only the macabre discount which has to prevail here, in consideration of the multiple victims of the terrorism in the world, but also the symbol which was scoffed! Yes, it is France, country of human rights, country embodying the freedom of expression which was quite hard struck by radicalism and intolerance. Charlie Hebdo embodied this vital freedom certainly lively and raw by moment but authentic. These attacks made several victims but could we think that freedom of speech would be the target of terrorist acts?

Africa is not unfortunately outdone in this ” inhumanity of terror “, the continent undergone with violence and powerlessness the repeated assaults by several terrorist groups which are mainly, AQMI (branch of Al-Qaeda), Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab. There also, the macabre discount is without appeal: we reach 15000 deaths to this day (from 2000 till 2014)! According to the Institute for Economics and Peace ( IEP), in its 2014 Global Terrorism Index, those 3 groups are among the 10 most active, violent and murderous terrorist organizations since their creation. As an example, from 2002 till 2013, Boko Haram, with about 10000 men, conducted 750 attacks in Nigeria, with a macabre discount of 3500 deaths, on the basis of a religious extremism ,which translates the will to establish an Islamist state (unconditional application of the Sharia in Nigeria).

Other international indexes come to consolidate the IEP Global Terrorism Index, in particular the AEGIS Advisory 2015 Strategic Risk Outlook and also GEOS 2014 Risk Map. Both, GEOS and AEGIS are specialized in country-risk classification and in strategic intelligence.

Having made this alarming observation, we are not going to come back on the causes, nor on the modus operandi (lone wolves, conventional attacks, kidnappings, hostage taking, cyber-attacks, etc.) of these terrorist groups, which have moreover their specificities both in the ideological and the operational approaches, but we are going to identify a strategy for a regional, coherent and inclusive response to the permanent threat of religious extremism.

Indeed, it is the sketch of a multidimensional strategy that we advise, to thwart better the expansion of terrorist ideology on the continent, while taking for model, the military operations theatre which is characterized by several fronts. So our multi-form strategy, takes into account simultaneously 8 fronts:

1/ The ideological front: terrorism draws its strength from an ideology of religious extremism. The “Sharia” is the classic model which attracts many candidates. The west is presented as ” the wound ” and the Islamist radical movements are the cure to this “wound”. It would be thus convenient, to beat terrorism on its favourite ground which is ideology. The African societies almost quite westernized, have to create for their youth a viable and pragmatic ideological alternative to avoid the attraction of radicalism. It is the introduction of an ideal of life, that will allow to make the difference between terrorism and democracy. The African countries thus owe within a short space of time, to set up multidisciplinary committees asked to think about this societal ideal (a model of African democracy), which could make young people dream, give them opportunities and so  divert their attention from religious obscurantism.

2/ The front of the development: at this level, it is a question of setting up tools which will allow to contain the attractiveness of terrorism. Indeed, the strong rate of impoverishment and illiteracy of these African societies, constitutes a melting pot for the recruitment of young people, in the middle of an identity crisis  and in search of marks. We thus suggest, an urgent implementation, of the UNDP Human Development Index (HDI) measures , in every concerned country. Besides, it is important, to involve the civil society in this debate for an inclusive and participative response. Every African country could create at the community level, a prevention committee of sectarian drifts stemming from the diversion of Islam. Better, the creation of local watch and sensitization committees in every village of the threatened or border countries, would be a main advantage. These local committees would stress the sensitization of young people as for the risks of religious toughening and would serve as early warning devices.

3/ The military front: here, it is a question of striking militarily all the terrorist groups at their heart. Still it is necessary, that the African armies are equipped and trained for such an option. Having said that, a joint answer for example, at the level of ECOWAS with the support of the western countries could allow to weaken the terrorist threat in the sub-region, following the example of the backward movement of AQMI in Mali (at least of its weakening). At this level, it would be necessary in every African country, to create as a matter of urgency units specialized in the in-depth action (special forces) to act in a surgical and effective way against these groups. The air or logistic support of western countries would be ideal. We recommend as a sub-regional answer (ECOWAS), the creation of a mixed elite unit based on the French GIGN (Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale) or the US SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics), to mutualize the resources of the African countries in this merciless fight. So you should not ignore, the capitalization of decisive experience of a country as Chad which demonstrated its operational and tactical capacities to face these groups. Finally, the outsourcing of the fight against terrorism, remain a complementary option, to halt the advance or the nuisance of these groups. This outsourcing would materialize for any country in the region, by the use of Private Military Companies (PMCs) likely to have the necessary skills and adequate equipment.

4/ The intelligence front: intelligence is at the heart of the fight against terrorism in Africa. It is a question for African countries, to consult at the sub-regional level in order to mutualize and share the necessary means to this end. Besides, most of those countries display a deficit in intelligence for which they pay a very high price. It would be thus wise, to polarize the efforts around a sub-regional synergy for intelligence. There also, the western support through training and logistics, would be an asset. Finally, national capacity building regarding strategic intelligence, remains the keystone of this terrorist problem.

5/ The religious front: the unprecedented mobilization of the Muslim communities in Africa, is more than necessary to denounce religious radicalism and its consequences which also strike Muslims. Moreover, there is only one Islam and many extremist Islamist aberrations. It is these abuses which must be denounced, because they negatively affect this noble religion. This option can seem utopian, because many African societies are already eroded by religious sectarian aberrations and thus avoid the sensible subject.

6/ The legislative front: this chapter is certainly one of the most important, because it concerns the revision of the legal arsenal of the African countries, to adapt it to the terrorist threat. Indeed, the national legislations have to evolve, so as to incorporate in a coherent and realistic way, provisions that would facilitate the intervention of security and defence forces in the fight against terrorism.

7/ The international front: an international cooperation is more than vital, to allow the African countries to prevent and push back terrorism. The support in capacity building, in training and in logistics would be the basis of this stronger anti-terrorist cooperation.

8/ The financial front: finally, this last aspect of our strategy, determines almost our whole proposal, because the sinews of war remains money. We recommend that the African countries, organize discreet national and international fund raising for the antiterrorist fight, following the example of the fight against Ebola, which mobilized donors. Of this financial solidarity will depend the outcome of the anti-terrorist struggle.

In conclusion, the fight against terror, in order to push it back or why not annihilate it (ideal), constitutes the world major priority today. It would be thus convenient for the African countries, to take advantage of this upsurge of international solidarity and consciousness, to strengthen their national strategies and so contribute actively to this struggle for freedom and democracy. A multidimensional and joint strategy is thus imperative to reach that goal.


Terrorism revisited by DAECH

At the time of the international coalition against the terrorist movement called DAECH, the major stake lies in the fact that this criminal and fundamentalist organization, changes the definition of “terrorism”.

Indeed, it is urgent that we do not speak any more about “Islamist state” because the “Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States” of December 26th, 1933, defines a “state” according to four essential characteristics which are:

1/ the existence of a bounded and determined territory. On this matter, DAECH extends over a territory going from Iraq to Syria so big as the United Kingdom. This territory is not internationally or regionally recognized, better it is disputed by Iraq and Syria who want to recover their territorial integrity.

2/ the existence of a resident population on this territory. The resident populations on this territory taken hostage in reality, are for certain sympathizers and others not. For proof, the massive exodus of religious minorities and diverse communities persecuted by the proclaimed caliphate.

3/ the existence of a minimal shape of government. DAECH is a theocratic, self-proclaimed entity which advocates a regime based on a rigorous interpretation of the Sharia. Abou Bakr Al-Baghadadi who proclaimed himself “Caliph” is the leader. He rejects democracy as well as secularism.

4/ the capacity to enter into a relationship with the other states. On this point, DAECH is in connection with no state worthy of the name. On the contrary, this entity challenges almost all the western states and those of the region.

It thus emerges from this analysis that DAECH is neither a state, nor an Islamic entity but a “terrorist fundamentalist entity”! So let’s not make the mistake to call that movement a “state” because it actually fosters its influence and gives credit to its actions.

Another major point to emphasize regarding this illegitimate entity is that, it contributed through its unseen way of functioning, to redefining the notion of terrorism which until recently was based on an asymmetric modus operandi and which suddenly becomes conventional.

Indeed, DAECH operates in two ways. On one hand, the terrorist insidious classic method through operations based on terror (kidnappings, attacks, threats, etc.) and on the other hand, the revolutionary method which rests on conventional warfare operations (a well-equipped and visible army which fights openly).

Let us not forget that DAECH has a strategic objective clearly assumed which is to establish a caliphate in the entire region and especially occupy Iraq and Syria. By the institution of this caliphate, DAECH shows its strength, wants to redefine the borders in the region and challenges the other terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.

Besides, the modus operandi of DAECH could be summarized like this: “terrorize and rule “, instead of “divide and rule”. Terror and persecution are at the heart of the strategy of this terrorist movement.

Finally it seems convenient to sketch a strategy of fight against this plague which threatens the region. Indeed, Islam as religion advocating peace should be introduced in high schools worldwide in order to sensitize young people, who are potential victims to be recruited through the internet. The inadequacy between the fundamentalist groups’ practices and the genuine practice of Islam should be underlined. It would largely reduce the recruitment of teenagers. Besides, all religions should unite with the world Muslim community, so as to declare “DAECH outlaw”. This mobilization of the religious faiths could take the shape of an “International Statement to denounce the illegitimacy of DAECH “. The international isolation of this movement is a necessity.

Finally, the efforts made to implement a military strategy in order to overcome this strong group of some 35000 men are crucial and must be maintained, especially because the struggle will be long, costly and hard.