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Sous le haut patronage de Sa Majesté le Roi Mohamed VI et en perspective du dixième sommet de la Francophonie, la ville sainte de Fès a abrité les 10, 11 et 12 septembre une prestigieuse conférence sur le dialogue des religions et des cultures.
Organisée par l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), en partenariat avec l’Organisation islamique pour l’éducation, la science et la culture (ISESCO) et l’Université Euro-méditerranéenne de Fès, la conférence a été ouverte par la lecture du message de Sa Majesté le Roi Mohamed VI saluant l’initiative et appelant toutes les forces vives du Maroc et des pays du monde à œuvrer pour un dialogue durable des cultures et des religions.
Représenté par Dr Seydi Diamil Niane, Timbuktu Institute a participé aux travaux de la conférence notamment à l’atelier consacré à la médiation et à la médiatisation dans la lutte contre les discours de haine.

La rencontre fut une précieuse occasion, pour Timbuktu Institute, de revenir sur les actions qu’il mène ces dernières années pour la promotion de la paix et la lutte contre tout discours de haine. En ce sens, Dr Seydi Diamil Niane est revenu, durant la rencontre, sur le Programme Educating for Peace, porté par Timbuktu Institute, en mettant l’accent sur la création de la Chaine Youtube dont le but était de promouvoir la paix et de faire face aux discours de haine.

Beaucoup de recommandations, qui seront présentées au prochain sommet de la Francophonie, sont ressorties de la conférence. Timbuktu Institute encourage l’État du Sénégal à se saisir de toutes les recommandations et d’appuyer toutes les initiatives locales et nationales qui luttent contre l’extrémisme religieux, la discrimination et les discours de haine, et ce, pour un dialogue durable des cultures et des religions.

The verdicts and sentences delivered on 19 July in the cases of 29 Senegalese citizens accused of planning to establish a terrorist cell in Senegal’s southern Casamance region were far from an unmitigated success for the prosecution.

 

A key defendant, Alioune Ndao, whom the state wanted to see jailed for 30 years, received only a one-month suspended sentence for the unlawful possession of firearms, while 15 of the accused were acquitted for lack of evidence, and sentences handed down to others were shorter than the prosecutors’ recommended jail terms.

 Thirteen of the accused were given prison sentences ranging from five to 20 years for crimes that included terrorism financing and criminal conspiracy. Lawyers for at least one of those convicted have said they will appeal.

 “To think that Senegal is safe from this evil would be a dangerous illusion,” prosecutor Aly Ciré Ndiaye said when the trial began in earnest in April (multiple adjournments followed the official start date in December 2017). “Dangerous because it would make us neglect the colossal efforts needed to dismantle the scaffolding on which terrorism finds strength.”

 Senegal makes for an attractive target for extremists because of its strong international connections, with military cooperation agreements in place with the United States and France, and its sizeable troop contribution to the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, an intervention opposed by many Senegalese. As the regional hub for numerous international institutions, Senegal is “a luxury target... like the jackpot for terrorist groups,” said Bakary Sambe, director of the Dakar-based Timbuktu Institute, which tracks violent extremism.

Islam in Senegal, which is followed by some 94 percent of the population, is dominated by a moderate, tolerant form of Sufism headed by powerful brotherhoods that have long been considered the country’s principal defence against extremism.But change is also occurring. Money is increasingly being pumped in from foreign states to build mosques and open Koranic schools, or daaras, which teach alternative interpretations of religious texts – more conservative Salafi and Wahhabi influences are beginning to take hold.Sambe believes Senegal’s school system is its greatest vulnerability. “We are one of the few countries in the world that does not have a complete hold on our own educational system,” he told IRIN. “There is a formal system controlled by the secular state and another in which foreign powers such as Saudi Arabia and Iran interfere.”

Imam of concern 

According to the prosecution’s case, the Casamance cell would have served as a base from which to carry out attacks against French targets and the Senegalese state. The court heard that the accused planned to extend the influence of this new so-called caliphate into neighbouring countries, including The Gambia, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau.

Some of those in the dock were rounded up in 2015 during a large-scale police operation against what were perceived to be hate-filled sermons in mosques. Others were detained while travelling to, or returning from, Nigeria.

Ndao is a Salafist imam who until his arrest in 2015 preached at a mosque in the town of Kaolack, 200 kilometres southeast of Dakar. He was accused of being the spiritual guide and coordinator of the cell.

Ndao appeared in court in the centre of the line of defendants, dressed in flowing white robes that matched his white beard. The trial was well attended by his supporters, and the courtroom erupted when the verdict was read out, with disciples of Ndao either rising to their feet or throwing themselves on the floor praising God.

One such supporter was Imam Diene, who had travelled 100 kilometres for the occasion. “He is not a terrorist,” he asserted. “There are no terrorists here in Senegal – there’s no proof! Only when you have proof can you say there are terrorists.”

The jihadist threat in the region has strengthened following the merger in 2017 of a handful of groups operating mainly out of northern Mali, including Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), to form Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM).

 The group’s leader, Iyad Ag Ghali, confirmed in April 2017 that Senegal is on its list of target countries. JNIM has been behind numerous attacks in recent months, including a twin assault in March on the French embassy and the national army headquarters in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, that killed eight people and wounded 80.

Many of the defendants in the Dakar trial were accused of having links with Boko Haram, including the alleged ringleader, Makhtar Diokhané, who received a 20-year prison sentence for terrorist acts by criminal association. The court heard how Diokhané spent time with Boko Haram militants in northeastern Nigeria before being sent back to Senegal with six million naira (around $20,000) to launch an affiliated cell.

Growing religious conservatism

Most of those convicted last month had travelled abroad to receive training from extremist groups, including Boko Haram and AQIM, but experts like Sambe warn it would be a mistake to ignore the rising influence of more conservative strains of Islam within Senegal itself.

Senegal’s northern town of Saint-Louis, once the colonial capital of French West Africa, is a prime destination for religious learning.

 It hosts a large number of renowned Koranic teachers, or marabouts, running daaras that attract students known as talibés – from boys as young as five to young men in their twenties – from other parts of Senegal and the wider region.

The daaras are unregulated by the state in terms of both their curriculum and living standards. “Anyone can decide to set up a school and start teaching the Koran,” said Baye Ndaraw Diop, a former director of a child protection service within Senegal’s Ministry of Justice.

Evidence of Salafi influence is becoming apparent in some daaras in Saint-Louis, including one located near the northern tip of the historic island town that is attended by more than 1,000 talibés. Although not a Salafist himself, the presiding marabout is known for accepting students regardless of their religious leaning, so long as they wish to study the Koran.

“We’ve noticed a change in behaviour among some of the older talibés in this daara,” said Issa Kouyaté, a campaigner working to improve the rights and living conditions for talibés. “They dress differently and refuse any kind of physical contact with women.”

IRIN accompanied Kouyaté on a visit to the daara. Feet protruded from tarpaulin-roofed rooms set around an open space where clothes were haphazardly hung out to dry. In keeping with the living conditions in many of the country’s Koranic schools, the students are housed in derelict buildings and bathe in the dirty river nearby; diseases such as scabies are commonplace.  

A dozen young men were gathered under a large tree outside their makeshift lodging. The tinny sound of recorded Koranic verses played from a mobile phone as one young man made tea, while another shaved the head of a younger talibé. The majority wore skull caps and plain tunics with trousers cut shorter than those customarily worn in Senegal – a sartorial hallmark of the more conservative forms of Islam.

The young men originate mainly from The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau and stick together. Their common language, Mandingo, is not widely spoken in Saint-Louis. One stated that their sole motivation is to learn the Koran.

State response

 The Senegalese government has won praise for its efforts to combat extremism in an increasingly unstable region. February 2016 saw the launch of the Inter-Ministerial Counter-Terrorism Intervention and Coordination Framework, known as the CICO. Chaired by the interior minister, the CICO is defined by the government as a “coordination and strategic monitoring mechanism in the fight against terrorism”.

“The CICO relies particularly on intelligence, and is focused on monitoring our borders,” a source in the interior ministry, who requested anonymity, told IRIN. The ability of the state to effectively monitor jihadist activity using social media was demonstrated by the arrest of Momodou Ndiaye, an accomplice of Diokhané’s, after the Department of Investigations tracked interactions via a Facebook group.

Some believe the state’s efforts are superficial, others that they go too far. “Senegal wanted to show the world and its donors that it was committed to the fight against terrorism,” said defence lawyer Assane Dioma Ndiaye on the conclusion of the trial. But, he continued, “there has been an exaggeration. It may be that some people in Senegal were tempted to respond to the call of terrorism. But the legal response was disproportionate.”

For Sambe, however, the Senegalese government is falling short and needs to put forward some pre-emptive policies to tackle violent extremism.  

“What we need now is an inclusive prevention strategy involving religious leaders, civil society, and the educational world,” he said.

 At the 2016 edition of the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, President Macky Sall appealed for a “doctrinal response” to jihadist propaganda, a vague-sounding call for a coordinated response that goes beyond simply military action.

 But while Senegal is a secular state, politicians are heavily dependent on religious leaders at election time for securing votes.

 This helps to explain why religious institutions and the extensive daara system are largely unregulated, and the growth of foreign ideologies – whether benign or otherwise – is left unchecked. “There is complicity between the religious power and the political power,” said Diop, the former justice ministry official. Another shortcoming in Senegal’s response may be a general unwillingness to acknowledge the problem. The jihadist threat is not a common topic of discussion, and few Senegalese journalists cover the issue.

Kouyaté, the campaigner, is frustrated by this national complacency. “We need to de-taboo what is taboo,” he said. “It is obviously better to pre-empt than to heal, but here in Senegal the medicine only comes after death.”

 

Source: www.irinnews.org

Les élections présidentielles maliennes se tiennent ce 29 juillet. Situé au cœur du Sahel, ce pays est toujours confronté à plusieurs défis transnationaux importants à relever. Analyse.

Vingt-quatre candidats, dont le président sortant Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, se sont lancés dans la course à la présidentielle prévue le 29 juillet. Donné favori, l’actuel chef de l’Etat a assuré lors de l’officialisation de sa candidature le 28 mai dernier qu’il s’attacherait «à relever entièrement et définitivement le triple challenge de la restauration de la paix, de la reconquête de l’unité et de la réussite de la réconciliation nationale»Des promesses ambitieuses et bien difficiles à tenir en un mandat de cinq ans tant les difficultés demeurent grandes sur le terrain.

G5 Sahel, Minusma, Barkhane : malgré un important dispositif sécuritaire, le pays fait face à une recrudescence des actes terroristes

Au cours des six premiers mois de 2018, le Mali a connu une recrudescence des actes terroristes malgré le déploiement d’un dispositif militaire conséquent depuis l’intervention française en janvier 2013 contre Al-Qaïda au Maghreb islamique (AQMI) et le mouvement pour l’unicité et le djihad en Afrique de l’Ouest (Mujao). Dans son dernier rapport trimestriel sur le Mali, le secrétaire général de l’ONU a fait part de sa préoccupation sur l’évolution de la situation sécuritaire notamment dans le centre du pays.

"Depuis le début de 2018, le nombre d’attaques perpétrées au moyen d’engins explosifs improvisés a presque doublé par rapport à la même période en 2017 "

«Je suis préoccupé par la détérioration continue des conditions de sécurité au centre du Mali, caractérisée par une plus grande complexité des attaques contre la Minusma [Mission multidimensionnelle des Nations unies pour la stabilisation du Mali], les forces armées maliennes et les forces internationales, un nombre exceptionnel de victimes civiles et une augmentation des conflits intercommunautaires», s’est-il alarmé.

Et de poursuivre plus loin : «Depuis le début de 2018, le nombre d’attaques perpétrées au moyen d’engins explosifs improvisés a presque doublé par rapport à la même période en 2017 : on en avait en effet dénombré 93 au 18 mai, contre 55 en 2017. Perpétrées de plus en plus près des zones plus peuplées du centre du Mali, elles font un nombre croissant de victimes parmi la population civile».

Un triste état des lieux qui interroge sur la viabilité de la stratégie militaire adoptée dans le pays par le Mali, la France et la force onusienne de la Minusma afin d'éradiquer la menace terroriste. L’attaque fomentée le 29 juin dernier par un commando composé de six djihadistes issus du groupe de soutien à l’islam et aux musulmans (GSIM), proche d'Al-Qaïda, contre le très sensible quartier-général de la coalition antidjihadiste du G5 Sahel à Sévaré, dans le centre du Mali, témoigne de la capacité intacte des groupes terroristes à frapper leurs ennemis en plein cœur.

Près de soixante ans après les indépendances acquises de haute lutte, il est au minimum paradoxal que la voie de règlement des crises dans les anciennes colonies françaises d'Afrique passe encore par Paris

Interrogé par RT France, Louis Keumayou, journaliste et président du club de l'Information africaine, estime que la politique sécuritaire mise en place au Mali, avec notamment l’implication de la France, ne peut contribuer au rétablissement d’une paix durable dans le pays.

Selon lui, la réponse pour y parvenir doit être malienne et africaine : «La situation au Mali ne peut pas être résolue par la seule voie militaire. D'autant plus que les mouvements qui sont combattus mènent une guerre asymétrique. Quel que soit le nombre des forces amies qui essaieront de prêter main forte aux autorités maliennes, la solution ne peut être que malienne. De plus, on ne peut pas avoir signé des accords de sortie de crise à Alger et privilégier à ce point la relation avec la France, au détriment d'un rapport de bon voisinage avec l'Algérie. Les deux ne sont pas incompatibles. L'Afrique de façon générale, et les pays du Sahel plus particulièrement, doivent de plus en plus œuvrer à trouver des solutions africaines aux problèmes de l'Afrique.»

Et de s'indigner : «Près de soixante ans après les indépendances acquises de haute lutte, il est au minimum paradoxal que la voie de règlement des crises dans les anciennes colonies françaises d'Afrique passe encore par Paris. Les germes de l'échec se trouvent dans cette posture complètement anachronique et absurde.» 

 

DAKAR, Senegal — The epicenter of jihadism in Africa has long been the Sahel, the region that skirts the southern fringe of the Sahara Desert. Islamist groups such as Boko Haram have used the vast and relatively empty area to hide, recruit and organize.

Now the threat is increasingly spilling over into nearby countries. Terrorist attacks struck Ivory Coast in 2016 and have occurred in Burkina Faso repeatedly since then. Multiple suspected terrorists have been arrested recently in the West African nations of Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal. The latter, historically one of West Africa's most stable nations, is now holding its largest-ever terrorism trial, with 29 people accused of trying to create an Islamic State-style caliphate in the region.

Al-Qaeda affiliates in the area have also issued a new wave of threats against Western interests in West Africa, with one group identifying Senegal and Guinea, which have soldiers in a U.N. peacekeeping mission in neighboring Mali, as priority targets.

“Since the terror attacks in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, it has been clear that no country is completely immune. Anywhere there are embassies, international organizations, multinationals — and especially Westerners — there are targets,” said Vincent Foucher, a research fellow at France’s National Center for Scientific Research who focuses on the Sahel.

The presence of terrorist groups nearby has helped stoke the threat. Some of the suspected terrorists on trial in Senegal were trained in Nigeria by Boko Haram — and some even met and received money from the group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, according to testimony given to investigators. Others had ties to extremist groups in Libya and northern Mali, according to court documents obtained by The Washington Post. And a late-2015 intelligence report obtained by The Post said instability made Guinea-Bissau a refuge for “international terrorists” from groups such as al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.

As the trial in Senegal has illustrated, militants are returning from fighting with such groups in places like Libya, Mali and northern Nigeria, bringing ideologies, contacts and sometimes thousands of dollars home to start new cells. The investigations that led to the trial started in July 2015 thanks to a Facebook post showing Senegalese fighters who allegedly died while in combat alongside Islamist groups in Libya.

Would-be terrorists also enjoy easy movement between West African countries. The 15-member Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, allows citizens of those countries to travel around the region without visas, and border areas are often poorly controlled. Governments, meanwhile, are often unable to track suspicious people as they move.

“Because of its [political] fragility, [Guinea-Bissau] is easy to penetrate. People can stay unnoticed for a long time,” a senior Bissau-Guinean intelligence official told The Post. People suspected of having links with terrorist groups should be followed once they enter the country, he said, but the country’s intelligence services do not have so much as a car available to conduct surveillance operations.

“The state should have a prevention strategy. But the state is weak,” said Aristides Gomes, Guinea-Bissau's newly appointed head of government, to The Post in an interview.

Even ramped-up military operations in the Sahel may not solve the problem. U.S. and European troops are on the ground there with a regional force made up of troops from Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad and backed by millions of dollars in international funding. But the presence of soldiers could lead to a scattering of the terror threat in the region, according to Pierre Lapaque, who heads the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime in West Africa.

The explosion of militant groups that has plagued Mali since 2012 is still unlikely in the rest of the region. “Rather than networks controlled by the jihadist groups fighting elsewhere, there is a web of members and ex-members, sympathizers that jihadist groups can call on,” said Foucher, the researcher.

But there are worries that West Africans are underestimating the threat, while politicians are nervous talking about radical Islamists as they woo Muslim voters. “[Senegal] neglected the fight against violent extremism” to avoid alarming tourists and foreign investors, said Bakary Sambe, the director of the Dakar-based Timbuktu Institute and a coordinator for the Observatory on Religious Radicalism and Conflicts in Africa.

The current trial could lead to a shift in Senegal's approach to counterterrorism, with harsh sentences used as a show of force designed to deter potential followers. But experts say a fair trial will be instrumental in preventing others from joining them.

“Often, state repression, especially torture and extrajudicial killings, are factors pushing people towards jihadism,” Foucher said. “From this point of view, the fact that Senegal is granting an official trial to suspected jihadists is to be encouraged.”

Read more: 

Militant threat emerges in Egyptian desert, opening new front in terrorism fight

How to understand Boko Haram

 

PARIS - Days before French President Emmanuel Macron visited West and Central African leaders this week to talk security, Islamist fighters sent a defiant message -- a suicide attack on the headquarters of a five-nation force that is supposed to take the lead in fighting terrorism in the region.

Last year Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger agreed to set up the 5,000-member force dubbed the "G5 Sahel", urged along by pledges of training and support from France.

The countries have been hit by jihadist attacks that have steadily worsened in the past two years, claiming hundreds of lives and displacing hundreds of thousands of people -- prompting many to seek refuge in Europe.

Headquarters of G5 Sahel anti-terror force attacked in Mali

Macron's trip was aimed at bolstering the fledgling multinational effort in order to reduce the role played by French troops in fighting jihadists and criminal smuggling groups in the vast and arid Sahel region.

Around 4,000 French troops, known as the Barkhane deployment, have been pursuing insurgents since 2014 across the desert expanse, an area half the size of the United States.

The G5 Sahel force is also expected to eventually replace the UN's MINSUMA peacekeeping mission in Mali, which has deployed 15,000 military personnel and police since 2013.

Although French officials avoid any mention of a quagmire, analysts say the increase of deadly and more elaborate strikes has cooled any hopes of a quick return for the French soldiers.

"It's a reconstruction effort of their armies, but getting there is going to take a long time, at a time when the security situation is getting worse," said Alain Antil, head of the African Studies Centre at the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI).

But the few missions carried out by the G5 Sahel so far have not been encouraging, not least because of real-time communication problems between the multiple forces.

Its full operational launch has also suffered several delays due to financial problems: little of the nearly 420 million euros (R665-bln) of promised funding has been received.

Militants in UN disguise explode car bombs, rockets at Mali bases

In the meantime, the French troops based mainly in Mali carry out relatively short operations from bases which regularly come under attack, their convoys at risk of landmines hidden along their routes.

Despite successes in neutralising small groups of jihadists and taking back control of some areas, they have so far been unable to curtail the threat of Islamist violence.

And French officials are well aware that the longer their soldiers stay in the countries, the risk that locals will begin to resent their presence will grow.

"The United States tried this all-security approach in Afghanistan, and the Taliban are now stronger than ever," said Bakary Sambe, a researcher at the Timbuktu Institute in Dakar.

"The French are doing the same in northern Mali, and the jihadists have not disappeared but are multiplying," he said.

'Hardly satisfactory'

G5 Sahal leaders have vowed to press ahead after last Friday's attack on the force's base in Sevare, central Mali, where a suicide bomber used a vehicle painted in UN colours to strike the building's entrance, killing three including two soldiers.G5 Sahel launches military operation in African scrublands

It was one of five separate attacks in Mali and neighbouring Niger which have killed 25 people in a week, as Macron was meeting with the leaders of the G5 nations in Nouakchott, Mauritania, on the sidelines of an African Union summit.

"They don't have the capabilities to take control of territory, but they are able to inflict damage," Antil said of the jihadists.

The French army's chief of staff, Francois Lecointre, had already warned in February that it would require at least 10 to 15 years to rebuild the Malian army alone.

"The situation developing in Mali is hardly satisfactory and we won't be leaving tomorrow, though that doesn't mean we're in a quagmire," he said.

Yet without sustained funding, even G5 leaders say the force will struggle to become an effective element in ridding the region of jihadists as well as the violent gangs of drugs and people-smugglers.

Sahel security failings leaves AU leaders worried

Major contributions have been pledged by the European Union and Saudi Arabia (100 million euros each), the United States ($60 million) and the United Arab Emirates (30 million euros).

The G5 countries themselves are paying 10 million euros each.

Over the past year, its soldiers have carried out just three missions with heavy logistical support from France, which some critics have derided as media operations.

The force may also struggle to win over the hearts and minds of locals -- last week the UN said Malian soldiers in the force "summarily" executed 12 civilians at a cattle market in central Mali in May in retaliation for the death of a soldier.

"The G5 force was seen by some as a possibility for France to disengage from the region, but I don't see it happening," said Sambe.

AFP

Même si le mot "enlisement" reste tabou à Paris, la position de la France au Sahel, où se multiplient les attaques jihadistes contre son contingent et les forces internationales, n'incite pas à l'optimisme, estiment des experts.

"Je ne pense pas qu'il soit possible de régler le problème au Mali en moins de dix à quinze ans, si tant est que nous le puissions", avait admis fin février le général François Lecointre, chef d'état-major des armées françaises. "L'évolution de la situation au Mali n'est guère satisfaisante et nous n'en partirons pas demain, sans qu'il s'agisse pour autant d'un enlisement, avait-il ajouté.

Enfermés dans des bases régulièrement attaquées, victimes de mines cachées sur leurs itinéraires (deux spahis ont été tués en février, quatre soldats ont été blessés à Gao dimanche) les militaires français mènent régulièrement des opérations au Mali, à grand renfort de colonnes blindées, d'avions et d'hélicoptères, "neutralisent des groupes armés terroristes", mais ne parviennent pas à faire reculer durablement la menace jihadiste.

"Pas du tout satisfaits"

"Mali : la guerre sans fin" titrait en avril le quotidien Libération. 

"Les Américains ont tenté cette approche tout sécuritaire en Afghanistan: résultat, les talibans y sont plus forts que jamais" confie à l'AFP Bakary Sambe, directeur du groupe de réflexion Timbuktu Institute à Dakar. "Les Français font de même dans le nord du Mali: non seulement les jihadistes n'ont pas disparu mais ils se sont multipliés. Comble du comble, le jihadisme a contaminé le Burkina-Faso, le Niger et la Mauritanie".

"Barkhane est désormais enlisée", estime-t-il. "La force G5 Sahel a été vue par certains comme une possibilité de désengagement de la France dans la région, mais je n'y crois pas. Cette force est nécessaire pour combattre le terrorisme dans la région, mais elle a du mal à devenir opérationnelle".

La "Lettre du continent", publication spécialisée sur l'Afrique, a indiqué la semaine dernière que "la force de lutte antiterroriste G5 Sahel, censée être opérationnelle depuis mars, est au point mort".

Sur les plus de 400 millions d'euros promis pour financer cette force régionale, seulement 500.000 euros versés par le Rwanda ont été réceptionnés, assure la Lettre. "Le fonds fiduciaire devant gérer les contributions au G5 Sahel reste une coquille vide".

"Nous ne sommes pas du tout satisfaits de la compréhension et de l'aide que nous recevons" a déclaré à ce sujet le président mauritanien Ould Abdel Aziz. "Nous pensons aussi qu'au niveau des Nations unies des portes nous sont fermées".

Le quartier général de la Force du G5 Sahel, à Sévaré (Mali) a été pris pour cible le 29 juin par un kamikaze à bord d'une voiture piégée, faisant trois morts dont deux militaires.

Censée "gagner la confiance des populations", selon les termes de son secrétaire général, la force a été dénoncée par des associations de défense des droits de l'Homme pour la participation de ses soldats à des exactions ou des massacres.

Ainsi la Mission des Nations unies au Mali (Minusma) a conclu que le 19 mai des éléments du bataillon malien de la force avaient exécuté sommairement douze civils dans un marché au bétail d'un village du centre du pays, après qu'un des leurs y eut été tué.

En un an la force conjointe a mené, avec l'appui direct et logistique de la France, trois opérations, dont la dernière s'est achevée début juin, sans résultat plus tangible que les précédentes.

La Salle des délibérations de la Mairie de Mbour va accueillir ce lundi 2 juillet à 15h la Cérémonie du lancement national du Projet « OSC et associations sportives du Sénégal pour une culture de la paix et contre la violence » en présence des autorités, des élus et des représentants de la Société civile et des Associations sportives et culturelles (ASC) et de l’Ambassade de France. 

Cette initiative entre dans le cadre du dispositif  PISCCA (Projet Innovant des Sociétés Civiles et Coalitions d’Acteurs), un nouveau programme initié par l’Ambassade de France, ayant pour ambition, entre autres, de promouvoir les initiatives citoyennes au Sénégal et en Gambie. 

Timbuktu Institute- African Center for Peace Studies avait présenté un projet qui a été sélectionné et jugé « innovant » en faisant collaborer les organisations sportives (ASC) et de la société civile qui mobilisent leurs Cités dans le domaine de la lutte contre la violence des jeunes et la promotion des valeurs citoyennes dans plusieurs région du Sénégal notamment à Mbour, Saint-Louis, Thiès et Kaolack. 

Pour Dr. Bakary Sambe, Directeur de Timbuktu Institute et professeur à l’Université Gaston Berger de Saint-Louis qui rappelle que « l’objectif général du PISCCA est d’accompagner, le développement des principes de recevabilité et de transparence dans l’action publique, de promotion des droits humains et de plaidoyer pour le climat, l’Institut était déjà sur ce terrain de la promotion des valeurs citoyennes et l’appui de l’Ambassade de France vient en son heure afin d’élargir son rayon d’action et atteindre plus de jeunes à travers le pays ». 

 De plus, avec ce projet qui a été sélectionné, Timbuktu Institute pourra « mieux se déployer notamment dans la sensibilisation des jeunes à la culture citoyenne tout en renforçant les capacités de la société civile et des médias locaux sur les thématiques des Droits humains et des actions de prévention contre la violence ». 

Ce qui, pour Mme Yague S. Hanne, chargée du Pôle « Dialogue politique et résolution des conflits » au sein de Timbuktu Institute « entre en droite ligne dans la logique des composantes 2 et 3 du PISCCA qui est un dispositif innovant et participatif dans le sens de la pleine implication des jeunes eux-mêmes dans le processus ainsi que leur autonomisation et la pérennité des actions implantées ».

On June 25th 2018, an agreement was signed between the Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung and the Timbuktu Institute- African Center for Peace Studies focused in youth and religious problematics based in Dakar.

The Rosa Luxembourd Stiftung, represented by Mrs Maimouna Ndao, on behalf of Dr ; Armin Osmanovic and the African center for peace studies- Timbuktu Institute, directed by Dr. Bakary Sambe agreed on the project entitled « Youth, Political Parties and Political participation. »

Indeed, firstly presented by the Timbuktu Institute, this project is based on research work mainly focused on the role of youth and its involvment in politics.

The project has 2 (two) specific objectives :

  • to provide scientific-based answers to better understand and document disaffection of young people (between 15 and 35) towards political parties in a constructive way ;
  • to mobilize young people regarding both political and electoral participation aspects for them to better express their concerns in a peaceful and constructive way. In other words, the goal is also to develop young people’s critical mind.

 

The agreement between the two institutions relies on a roadmap to include programs and activities which will be conducted within the Timbuktu Institute. It should be implemented from June 1st and will be conducted with different sensitizing activities until next December 31th.

 

With the coming elections to be held in Senegal in February 2019, this partnership is also a way to shed a  light on the political aspirations of the youth and their expectations from the political leaders and parties in the next ten years. A promising experience !

 

By Thaïs Matton, Trainee, (Summer 2018)

Interview with Dr. Bakary Sambe

On December 13th 2017, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced respective disbursements of 100 and 30 million dollars in Saint-Cloud (France) to support the implementation of a multinational force of the G5 Sahel (a coalition of 5 Sahel countries to counter terrorism). What are these monarchies seeking with such a gesture? Is the Sahelien burden suddenly too much for French president Emmanuel Macron to bare?

 

In this exclusive interview granted to Ouestafnews, Dr. Bakary Sambe, Director of the Timbuktu Institute and professor at l’Universite Gaston Berger de Saint Louis (Senegal), and specialist of the Muslim world and transnational Sahel networks, analyses the insertion of Saudi Arabia and the UAE into the realm of the Sahel.

 

Ouestafnews: Why have the monarchies of the gulf just decided to finance military forces in the Sahel at this moment?

 

Bakary Sambe: It’s a sign of the profound mutation of diplomatic coupling and contemporary international relations. The logic of influence has undeniably substituted that of power.  But Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and the apparent palatial revolution in Riyadh were not for nothing. That the Saudis are so actively engaging in the war on terror signals a strong will to demonstrate a change in attitude in order to no longer fulfill the idea that Saudi Arabia is a country that exports radical ideologies.

 

The fact that this is occurring in the relative minefield that is the Sahel, also the locale of a geostrategic competition between Western powers in which France promotes the G5 Sahel while the US are well positioned in Agadez and maintain the strength of AFRICOM, reveal a truly calculated move on the part of the Saudis.

 

Above all, it indicates a position that is far from timid, especially when considered within the context of rivalries between Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar.

 

O: What are they hoping to gain from this financial contribution?

 

B.S. : In addition to the aforementioned change of image for these countries, these monarchies do not want to miss the opportunity to put themselves on an important playing field and in a competition for control of resources and strategic positions.

 

We already knew about these countries’ interest in viable land for agriculture due to a food crisis that would put both at risk. But they are worried also about diversifying partnerships in an uncertain world, to put their oil dollars to good use in the vast space of investment opportunities far from Western countries that could freeze their assets and investments on the grounds of counterterrorism, like after September 11th.

 

Nevertheless, an important element of this is also the rivalry between these countries that dates back to the Iranian revolution, in which Saudi Arabia hopes to limit and contain the spread and power of Shiism. This concern has been shared by Morocco, a transitory country and intermediary for financial redistribution with its numerous banking institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

The recent developments between Qatar and Saudi Arabia also indicate that we have not truly left behind a checkbook diplomacy backed by a frenzied quest for influence that is heavily dependent on religious bias.  In this context, a moderate, equidistant position is most prudent for our country.

 

O: Is this a way for Saudi Arabia to try and rid themselves of the image of “promoters of Salafism” that they can’t seem to shake?

 

B.S.: It’s true that Riyadh is in the midst of a campaign to charm and indicate goodwill towards efforts to counter terrorism after years of ambiguity in regard to its religious influence and exportation and promotion of Wahhabism. This gesture towards the G5 countries and Western powers they hope will be sufficient to not only reassure these partners but rally them to Riyadh’s cause against Qatar. 

 

But the bigger question facing Saudi Arabia is more complex: how do the al-Saoud conciliate the will to reform as envisioned by Mohamed Ben Salmane with the imperative of the religious wing, the al-Shaykh, who’s power is derived from the tenants of Wahhabism.

 

All of this depends on this objective alliance and the ingenuity of Ben Salmane to reconcile concern for socio-religious modernization in terms of both politics and appearance. That’s what the near future holds.

 

O: How can we analyze France’s attitude and decision to “share” its sphere of influence with actors from the gulf?

 

B.S.: The clear and explicit allusion to Saudi Arabia as a new partner in the war on terror in Macron’s speech at Ouagadougou insinuates a Franco-Saudi entente without precedent, circumstances notwithstanding. However, France also finds herself confronted with the same dilemma to defend and promote its democratic values, the foundation of its counter-terrorism efforts in the Sahel, and managing a new ally that does not share these same values or even the same suspected economic motivations. 

 

The other question is to determine whether the war on terror should only be limited to military options that the international partners of the Sahelien countries seem to favor.

 

O: Is there another way besides using weapons?

 

B.S.: Maybe at the next Dakar Forum on Education will pose a debate on diversifying and complementing these approaches, and that will tackle this issue of education and radicalization head on.

We know also that it’s in the universities of those who are injecting billions of dollars into military bidding that these radical ideologies which plague the Sahel are conveyed. Moreover, this last question seemed to be at the heart of Donald Trump’s requests during his fruitful visit to the gulf.

Nul n'ignore le contexte du déclenchement de la rébellion qui ébranla le Nord-Mali, fin 2012, ni la manière dont des Touaregs de la région de Kidal, puis des groupes extrémistes violents et partisans d'un islam rigoriste (Ansar Eddine d'abord, Al-Qaïda au Maghreb islamique et, plus récemment, le Front de libération du Macina) firent trembler Bamako. Nul n'ignore non plus que des régions de Kidal, Tombouctou et Gao ont sombré dans le chaos avant que l'opération Serval conduite par l'armée française à partir de janvier 2013 ne rétablisse un semblant de stabilité et d'accalmie au Mali.

 

Mais bien avant cette intervention, il existait des éléments factuels de nature à alimenter des inquiétudes. On peut citer notamment la présence des narcotrafiquants qui agissaient très souvent avec la complicité de la chefferie locale et d'une certaine hiérarchie militaire. Le septentrion malien constituait depuis longtemps déjà un terreau favorable à la constitution et au développement des groupes terroristes et des bandits armés. Ils y régnaient en maître, mettant en difficulté un Etat par ailleurs miné par la corruption et qui, de ce fait, rencontrait d’énormes difficultés à assurer aux populations locales les services sociaux de base.

 

Mais la présence des armées étrangères sur le territoire malien ne suffit pas à résoudre le problème sécuritaire que pose les groupes armés dans le nord et maintenant le centre du pays. Ceux-ci demeurent très actifs et multiplient les attaques contre les civils et les forces de sécurité. Les milliers d'hommes déployés sous la bannière de Barkhane (qui a pris la suite de Serval en 2014), de la Minusma (la Mission multidimensionnelle intégrée des Nations unies pour la stabilisation du Mali) et de la force conjointe du G5 Sahel n'y ont rien fait, ou presque. Aujourd'hui, les populations locales sont désemparées, déboussolées et apeurées, et l'on peut légitimement s'interroger sur la finalité des actions militaires entreprises au Mali aussi bien que sur l'utilité de la présence de toutes ces forces d'intervention qui, de par leur nombre, peuvent donner l’impression d’un chaos généralisé.

 

La communauté internationale mise beaucoup sur la force du G5 Sahel. La France, pour ne citer qu'elle, espère qu'elle lui permettra de se désengager de la sous-région, de contrôler les routes clandestines pour stopper le flux de migrants vers l’Europe et de sécuriser ses intérêts économiques à moindre coût tout en se prémunissant contre de possibles attaques terroristes commanditées depuis les confins du Sahara. Cette force conjointe a déjà mené deux missions expérimentales dans les zones situées à la frontière du Burkina et du Niger : les opérations Hawbi (la « Vache noire » en Songhoï) en novembre 2017, et Pagnali (« le Tonnerre » en Peul), en janvier dernier. Cette dernière a réuni 350 soldats burkinabés, 200 Nigériens, 200 Maliens et 180 éléments de la force Barkhane. 

 

Mais, happé par cette frénésie militaire, on oublie de rappeler que l’insécurité est d'abord nourrie et entretenue par la corruption des élites au pouvoir. C'était le cas avant 2012 et ça l'est encore aujourd'hui. Dans un rapport daté d'octobre 2014 qui avait fait grand bruit, le Bureau du vérificateur général questionnait déjà les modalités d'achat d'un aéronef et de matériel militaire. Trois ans plus tard, il écrit encore que « les défis restent énormes face à la délinquance économique et financière », citant le non-respect des textes législatifs, l'attribution irrégulière de marchés, des dépenses non autorisées, des dépassements budgétaires, l’utilisation irrégulière des ressources financières, etc.

 

L'outil sécuritaire doit se doubler d'une bonne gouvernance et d'une distribution équitable des services sociaux de base. Ajoutons aussi qu'il est inefficace de mettre sous tutelle les forces de défense et de sécurité du Mali : on ne vient pas en aide à une armée souveraine en la laissant sur la touche. Il faut donc renforcer la coopération militaire entre les forces en présence (car qui dit force conjointe ne dit pas réelle coopération) et prendre davantage en compte l’ingénierie locale dans l’élaboration des stratégies militaires, tant il est vrai que, par endroits, hiérarchie sociale et logique militaire sont antinomiques. Ce n'est qu'à ce prix que l'on pourra instaurer une paix durable au Mali.

Par Dr. Aly Tounkara

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