Crisis in the Sahel and World Education Partnership: "What I wanted to say to Macky Sall and Emmanuel Macron…” (Bakary Sambe) Spécial

In a recent opinion article published in Jeune Afrique(n°2979), the Director of the Timbuktu Institute – African Center for Peace Studies Dr. Bakary Sambe examines the "archaeology of the security crisis in the Sahel", showing that the deeper origins of the crisis can be traced back not only to the careless policies of the 1990s imposed on Sahelian countries, but also as a result of the international community’s 40 years delay to intervene in the regionsince the droughts of the 1970s. Dr. Sambe touches on the idea of preventive solutions through education while highlighting the incoherencies that must be avoided in order to not repeat the mistakes of the past. Here is in extenso his opinion piece titled : "AK-47s never defeated the ideologues."


An eminent religious leader from the Sahel confided in me that to get at the real causes of radicalization one must consider the combination of “the arrogance of the unjust and the ignorance of those who see themselves as victims”. Indeed, the international community was forty years too late to respond to the networks they are currently fighting against: ever since the droughts of the 1970s, neither Europe nor the United States, who were at that time stuck in the throes of the oil crisis, could help us. Those who could lend us a helping hand exported petrol, petrodollars and… ideologies. Then the international community came down hard in the 1990s with policies of structural adjustment demanding that borrower countries follow the path of liberalism by investing as little as possible in education, health, and social programming, while the exporters of ideologies were building madrasas in the Sahel and implanting so-called “Islamic” NGOs – which replaced the state and delegitimized the new missionaries of democracy.

At the start of February, Dakar welcomed the International Partnership for Education. But I would have liked to remind MackySall, Emmanuel Macron, and even Rihanna that many Sahelian countries still suffer from a duality, or better yet a split of the educational system, with the “official” francophone school on one side and a multitude of Qur’anic schools on the other. TheseSahelian states lack an understanding of what’s at stake because of this dynamic, and have never integrated this shock dimension of religious models and citizens by the education bias into the global framework of security policy.

Terrorism emerged in the middle of this space after being viewed, for many years, as a far-off and unlikely phenomenon, and its unpredictable character did not leave room for upstream strategies. Conversely, terrorism demanded a reactive approach. Confronted with this level of urgency, the countries of the Sahel and their international partners were only able to respond via asecurity-based approach as illustrated by the Operation Serval. And while it must be recognized that the Operation did manage to stop the jihadists on their way to Bamako, the result was the strictly security-based conception of a phenomenon that requires a holistic approach.

The failure of purely military solutions is an irrefutable reality. One simply cannot expect AK-47s to dismantle an ideology. The Americans stayed for more than fifteen years in Afghanistan and the Taliban still has not left. Serval made it through, replaced by Barkhane, which is incapable of finishing off the terrorists in the north of Mali. Armed groups prosper there and the front has expanded towards the center of the country with the Liberation Front of Macina overflowing into Burkina Faso.

Military solutions are certainly a necessary evil to contain the growing threat, but they are neither efficient nor sustainable. In fact, they have served as inspiration for jihadists! Global strategies and risky coordinative games are no longer needed: it is sufficient to create zones of instability and label all sorts of conflicts “Islamic” to generate Western intervention which, with their blunders and miscalculations, will nourish frustrations and revolts – an ideal breeding ground for recruiting new combatants.

We have become a real international community: rich countries or poor countries, Africa or Europe, we have this vulnerability in common. Gao, Maiduguri orTazalit are as exposed as Paris, Brussels or Miami. What happens in our tropics also concerns the powerful members of the Security Council and it is urgent to find collaborative solutions. Yet, there is a gap between global approaches, recommended by our international partners, and local perceptions. It is time to give possible endogenous solutions the dignity they deserve. Five years ago, I expressed to officials of the European Commission that in some of our villages the purchase of an older-model tank costs more than the construction of a school. We are presented with two choices: to prevent terrorism today via education and social justice or to prepare ourselves, militarily, to intervene indefinitely and continuously tomorrow, without a guarantee for success and with the risk of reproducing the causes of the evil we are fighting against. 

(Source JeuneAfrique n° 2979)

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Dernière modification le mardi, 20 février 2018 14:07