Legacy Articles On Iran

2024-01-03 Iran Announces Integration Of Artificial Intelligence Into Drone Fleet (Michael Rubin)
2024-01-03 Iran Equips Drones With Heat-Seeking Missiles (Michael Rubin)
2024-01-03 Iran Demands Disarmament Of Kurdish Dissidents In Iraq (Michael Rubin)

2023-11-08 Iran Promoting Medical Tourism To Generate Hard Currency (Michael Rubin)
2023-11-08 Iran’s Supreme Leader Accuses West of Ukraine War Conspiracy (Michael Rubin)

2023-10-03 Iran Claims Development of Cruise Missiles Guided by Artificial Intelligence (Michael Rubin)
2023-10-03 Requirements for Desirable Iranian Oil Ministry Jobs Revealed (Michael Rubin)
2023-10-03 Iran’s Supreme Leader Warns of Declining Fervor of New Generation (Michael Rubin)

2023-08-25 Iran Claims New Flight Simulator Will Enhance National Power (Michael Rubin)
2023-08-25 Iran’s Simorgh Transport Plane Makes Maiden Flight (Michael Rubin)
2023-08-25 Iran Indicates Plans To Commercialize Nuclear Technology, Sell Heavy Water (Michael Rubin)
2023-08-25 Iran’s Persistent and Growing Influence in Latin America (Ryan Berg)

2023-06-01 Iran Unveils New Thermobaric Warhead (Michael Rubin)
2023-06-01 Iran Opens New Helicopter, Drone Base in Southeastern Provincial Capital (Michael Rubin)
2023-06-01 Iran Ready To Help Syria Rebuild Its Defense Infrastructure (Michael Rubin)

2023-05-01 Iran Installs New Precision Missiles on Army Helicopters (Michael Rubin)
2023-05-01 Iran Seeks To Reestablish Embassy and Consulate in Saudi Arabia Before Hajj (Michael Rubin)
2023-05-01 Iran Considers Rapprochement With Pakistan (Michael Rubin)

2023-04-01 Iran Unveils Updated Yasin Training Jet With Possible Close Combat Applications (Michael Rubin)
2023-04-01 Iran’s Increased Defense Budget Leading to More Arms Exports (Michael Rubin)
2023-04-01 Iran Capitalizing on Post-Earthquake Conditions To Deepen Influence in Syria (Lucas Winter)

2023-03-01 Iran Praises Revolutionary Guards’ Proxy Afghan Brigade (Michael Rubin)
2023-03-01 Iran Profiles the Female Police Seeking To Quell the Women’s Protests (Michael Rubin)

2023-02-01 Iran Moves Sea-Borne Drone Fleet Closer to Reality (Michael Rubin)
2023-02-01 Iranian General Reiterates Goal To Expel United States From Region (Michael Rubin)
2023-02-01 Iran Fires Indigenous Torpedoes From Submarines for First Time (Michael Rubin)

2023-01-01 Iran Asks Tajikistan Not To Use Iranian Drones in Dispute With Kyrgyzstan (Michael Rubin)
2023-01-01 Iran Claim of Hypersonic Missile Capability Probably Exaggerated (Michael Rubin)

2022-11-01 Iran Vaunts Persian Language as Marker of National Identity Despite Country’s Ethnic Diversity (Michael Rubin)
2022-11-01 Iran’s Proposal To Build Railroads and Housing in Syria Could Enrich IRGC (Michael Rubin)
2022-11-01 Iran Lauds Air Defense, Claims Sepehr Radar Will Soon Be Operational (Michael Rubin)

2022-10-01 Iran Wants Sukhoi-35 Fighters From Russia (Michael Rubin)
2022-10-01 Iran Intercepts Crystal Meth Shipment From Afghanistan (Michael Rubin)

2022-09-01 Iran Reportedly Using New Carrier, Submarines To Expand Reach of Drones (Michael Rubin)
2022-09-01 Iran Unveils Stealth Speedboats (Michael Rubin)
2022-09-01 Iran’s Flawed Statistics and Growing Drug Addiction (Michael Rubin)

2022-08-01 Iranian F-14 Crash Highlights Iran’s Need for New Fighter Contract (Michael Rubin)
2022-08-01 Iranian Trade With China Is Up, but So Is Political Risk (Michael Rubin)
2022-08-01 Iran’s Revolutionary Guards To Expand Drug Treatment Center (Michael Rubin)
2022-08-01 Iran Believes Turkey’s Rapprochement With Israel and Saudi Arabia Is a Threat (Ihsan Gunduz)

2022-07-01 Iran Unveils New Drone-Fired Cruise Missile (Michael Rubin)
2022-07-01 Iran Opens New Drone Plant in Tajikistan (Michael Rubin)
2022-07-01 Iran Warns UAE Against Allowing Israel in the Persian Gulf (Michael Rubin)

2022-06-01 Khamenei Speaks on Necessity of Palestinian “Resistance” (Michael Rubin)
2022-06-01 Iran Initiates and Defends New Bread Subsidies Amid Deteriorating Economy (Michael Rubin)
2022-06-01 Iran Seeks To Counter Misinformation Circulating on Social Media (Michael Rubin)

2022-05-01 Iran Digs into Central Syria, Filling Vacuum Left by Russia (Lucas Winter)
2022-05-01 Iran Tries To Justify Abstention in UN Vote Condemning Russian Invasion of Ukraine (Michael Rubin)
2022-05-01 Iranian Navy Joins Indian Naval Exercises (Michael Rubin)
2022-05-01 Iran’s New Damavand Destroyer Set To Join Navy (Michael Rubin)

2022-04-01 Iran: Emphasizing Religiosity in Regular Army Promotions (Michael Rubin)
2022-04-01 Iran Uses Online War Games To Teach Younger Generation of Officers (Michael Rubin)
2022-04-01 Iran’s Supreme Leader Condemns Alleged Corruption of the West (Michael Rubin)
2022-04-01 Iran Repositions Its Proxies in Syria as Russia Turns Focus to Ukraine (Lucas Winter)

2022-03-01 Iranian Authorities Arrest Alleged Deputy Leader of Royalist Terrorist Group (Michael Rubin)
2022-03-01 Iran’s Prosecution of Arab Separatist Highlights Supposed Saudi Ties (Michael Rubin)
2022-03-01 Russia and China To Help Iran Build New Airports (Michael Rubin)

2022-02-01 Iran and Syria Discuss Transportation Cooperation (Michael Rubin)
2022-02-01 Iran’s Purported Counter-Hijacking Record (Michael Rubin)
2022-02-01 Iran Busts Weapons and Ammunition Smuggling Ring (Michael Rubin)

2022-01-01 Iran-Pakistan Bolstering Naval Cooperation (Michael Rubin)
2022-01-01 Iran Agrees To Gas Swap with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan (Michael Rubin)
2022-01-01 Iran and Syria Seek To Jumpstart Economic Ties (Michael Rubin)

2021-04-01 IRAN Unveils New Baman Radar System (Michael Rubin)
2020-10-01 Iran Stockpiling Supplies through Chahbahar (Michael Rubin)

2020-09-01 More Iran in Venezuela (Geoff Demarest)
2020-09-01 Iran Increases Range of Smart Bombs (Michael Rubin)
2020-09-01 Iran: Passive Defense Organization and Basij Sign Memorandum of Understanding (Michael Rubin)
2020-09-01 Iran: Khamenei Speaks on Sanctions, Enmity toward America, and Nuclear Power (Michael Rubin)

2020-08-01 Iran: Khamenei Speaks on Corruption (Michael Rubin)
2020-08-01 Iran: What’s Behind the Government’s Secrecy on Handing Over Kish Island to Chinese? (Michael Rubin)
2020-08-01 Iran Eager to Enter the Global Market as a Military Equipment Exporter (Jerrilee Plude)
2020-08-01 China and Iran Announce $400 Billion Trade Deal (Peter Wood)

2020-07-01 Russian Arms Sales to Iran? (Ray Finch)
2020-07-01 An Afghan Perspective: A New Phase in Afghanistan-Iran Relations (Michael Rubin)
2020-07-01 More Iran in Venezuela (Geoff Demarest)
2020-07-01 The Three Main Missions of the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Michael Rubin)

2020-06-01 Iran: Prosecute Cybercriminals (Michael Rubin)
2020-06-01 Iran Improves its UAV Technology (Robert Bunker and Alma Keshvarz)

2020-05-01 Iran: Khamenei on Power and Patience (Michael Rubin)
2020-05-01 Iran Unveils Ghadir Submarine Upgrades (Michael Rubin)
2020-05-01 India Evacuates its Citizens from Iran (Michael Rubin)
2020-05-01 Iran Announces Mass Production of COVID-19 Test Kits (Jerrilee Plude)

2020-04-01 Israel Establishes New ‘Strategy and Iran Directorate’ Under General Staff (Zachary Fesen)
2020-04-01 Iran: Sanctions Don’t Impact Military Spending (Michael Rubin)
2020-04-01 Iran: IRGC Establishes Biological Defense Headquarters (Michael Rubin)

2020-03-01 Counterfeit Bank Notes Seized in Iran (Michael Rubin)
2020-03-01 Iran-Increasing Domestic Production of Rare Earth Elements (Michael Rubin)
2020-02-01 Iran to Send Astronaut into Space? (Michael Rubin)

2020-01-01 Iran: Identity Theft and Extortion in Isfahan (Michael Rubin)
2020-01-01 Iran and Russia to Establish Visa Waivers (Michael Rubin)
2020-01-01 Iran: Use Suicide Drones as Air Defense (Michael Rubin)
2020-01-01 Iran, China, and Russia Plan Joint Naval Drills in Indian Ocean (Zachary Fesen)

2019-12-01 Iran- Khamenei Speaks on America (Michael Rubin)
2019-12-01 Iran Establishes Official VPN Operators (Michael Rubin)

2019-11-01 Iran and Turkey- Friend or Foe (Ihsan Gunduz)
2019-11-01 Iran Opens Persian Gulf Air Defense Command Center (Michael Rubin)
2019-11-01 Iran- Mobile Rocket Systems and Underground Tunnels (Michael Rubin)
2019-11-01 Iran Announces Dome Defense against Drones (Michael Rubin)

2019-10-01 Iran- Khamenei Speaks on Kashmir (Michael Rubin)
2019-10-01 Iran- Armed Forces Ready to Take Over National Intranet Project (Michael Rubin)
2019-10-01 Israel- Iran’s Military Entrenchment in Iraq Poses Threat (Karen Kaya)

2019-09-01 Iran Warns of Phone and Text Scams (Michael Rubin)
2019-09-01 Iran – Mohajer-6 UAV Strikes Targets in Iraq (Michael Rubin)
2019-09-01 Iran’s Negotiations with Domestic Kurdish Opposition Groups (Ihsan Gunduz)
2019-08-01 Iran: Optoelectronic Military Developments (Michael Rubin)

2019-07-01 Iran: Progress on National Intranet (Michael Rubin)
2019-07-01 Iran: Nationwide Curriculum for Computer Programming (Michael Rubin)
2019-07-01 Iran: Preparing for Zafar III Satellite Launch (Michael Rubin)
2019-07-01 Iran: Admiral Fadavi Selected as Revolutionary Guards Deputy (Michael Rubin)
2019-06-01 The Dynamics of Trilateral Relations between Turkey, Russia, and Iran (Ihsan Gunduz)

2019-05-01 Iran Cements its Presence in Syria (Lucas Winter)
2019-05-01 Iran: Khamenei Threatens to Use Precision Missiles (Michael Rubin)
2019-05-01 Iran Conducts its Largest UAV Exercise (Michael Rubin)

2019-04-01 Iran: Hovercraft successfully fires cruise missiles (Michael Rubin)
2019-04-01 Iran Diverting Money from Development to Military (Michael Rubin)
2019-03-01 Iran Builds Up Syrian Proxies on the Western Banks of the Euphrates (Lucas Winter)
2019-02-01 IRGC: Iran Can Extend Ballistic Missile Range (Michael Rubin)

2019-01-01 Iran’s Basij in Cyberspace (Michael Rubin)
2019-01-01 Iran Unveils JDAMs? (Michael Rubin)
2019-01-01 China, Russia and Iran Seek to Revive Syrian Railways (Lucas Winter)

2018-11-01 Iran to Build New Missile System? (Michael Rubin)
2018-11-01 Supreme Leader’s Advisor- United States Common Enemy of Iran and China (Michael Rubin)
2018-09-01 Will Iran Pivot to the East (Michael Rubin)
2018-09-01 Iran: IAEA Shouldn’t Inspect Universities (Michael Rubin)
2018-09-01 Russia and Iran Hamper Turkey’s Aspirations to Become Energy Hub (Ihsan Gunduz)

2018-08-01 Questions on Shortfalls in Electricity Generation in Iran (Michael Rubin)
2018-08-01 Achieving Gasoline Self-Sufficiency in Iran (Michael Rubin)
2018-08-01 Visit of Chinese Military Delegation to Iran (Michael Rubin)
2018-08-01 Iran to Re-Launch “Helicopter Carrier” (Michael Rubin)
2018-08-01 Iran Preparing to Host Nanotechnology Festival (Michael Rubin)
2018-08-01 Iran to Launch New Satellite by Year’s End (Michael Rubin)

2018-07-01 Group Planning to Hack Bank in Iran Arrested (Michael Rubin)
2018-07-01 Who Took $30 Billion out of Iran? (Michael Rubin)
2018-07-01 Iran to Attend Russian Military Trade Show (Michael Rubin)
2018-07-01 Iran Cracks Down on Internet Café VPNs (Michael Rubin)

2018-06-01 Iran, Russia to Jointly Manufacture Helicopter (Michael Rubin)
2018-06-01 Iran Unveils New Unmanned Helicopter (Michael Rubin)
2018-06-01 Russia and Iran Compete for Syria’s Phosphates (Lucas Winter)
2018-06-01 Is Iran Ready to Send Its Navy to Japan (Michael Rubin)

2018-05-01 Iran and Russia Compete for Influence in Syria (Lucas Winter)
2018-05-01 Will Iran Interfere in Kashmir? (Michael Rubin)
2018-05-01 Iran and Russia Compete for Influence in Syria (Lucas Winter)
2018-05-01 Iran and Russia Compete for Influence in Syria (Lucas Winter)
2018-05-01 Will Iran Interfere in Kashmir? (Michael Rubin)
2018-05-01 Iran and Russia Compete for Influence in Syria (Lucas Winter)

2018-04-01 13 Million Users of Domestic Messaging Apps in Iran (Michael Rubin)
2018-04-01 Iran: Supreme Leader Advisor Lauds Russian Strategic Ties (Michael Rubin)
2018-04-01 Iran: Muslims Supported by US, UK are Illegitimate (Michael Rubin)
2018-04-01 Iran: Israel’s Missile Defense Can Be Overwhelmed (Michael Rubin)
2018-04-01 Iran Unveils New Anti-Armor Missile (Michael Rubin)

2018-03-01 Iran: Warship Sinks after Mishap (Michael Rubin)
2018-03-01 Iran: Winning Hearts and Minds in Deir Ezzor (Lucas Winter)
2018-03-01 Iran Develops UAS with “Smart Bomb” Capability (Alma Keshavarz and Robert Bunker)
2018-03-01 Iran: US Sponsoring Islamic State in Afghanistan (Michael Rubin)
2018-03-01 Iran: Winning Hearts and Minds in Deir Ezzor (Lucas Winter)
2018-03-01 Iran: Telegram Giving Data to US and Israel (MIchael Rubin)

2018-02-01 A Malaysian Perspective on US-Iran Relations (Jacob Zenn)
2018-02-01 Turkish Perspectives on Iran (Karen Kaya)
2018-02-01 Iran: Was America Behind Uprising? (Michael Rubin)
2018-02-01 Iran: Lifting the Ban on Instagram was Illegal (Michael Rubin)

2018-02-01 Iran Approaches the Syria-Jordan Border (Lucas Winter)
2018-02-01 Indonesian Perspectives on the Iran Protests (Jacob Zenn)
2018-02-01 India’s Interest in Stability in Iran (Matthew Stein)
2018-02-01 China Limits Internet Exposure to Iran Protests (Jacob Zenn)
2018-02-01 Saudi-Iran Tensions Seen in Nigerian Crackdown on Shia Group (Jacob Zenn)

2018-01-01 Iran: New Military Budget Proposed (Michael Rubin)
2018-01-01 Iran-Khamenei Speaks on Views toward America (Michael Rubin)
2018-01-01 Iran’s Amphibious Aircraft from Russia (Michael Rubin


Sahelian Countries Divided on Negotiating With Al-Qaeda, Islamic State Militants

Niger and Burkina Faso, both afflicted with jihadist violence, demonstrate divergent views on negotiating with jihadists from the Islamic State (flag pictured below) and Al-Qaeda


“Niger’s approach [to addressing jihadists threats]… starkly contrasts with the regional trend.”


The countries of the Sahel are undertaking divergent paths when it comes to the question of negotiating with terror groups as the African region cements itself as the new epicenter of global jihadist terrorism.[i] Most countries in the Sahel, and wider West Africa, have shown a reluctance to negotiate with terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda (AQ)[ii] or the Islamic State (IS),[iii] as well as with secular separatist insurgencies. Burkina Faso’s prime minister, Apollinaire Kyelem de Tambela, was emphatic that his country, which has seen one of the most significant spikes of jihadist violence of any in the world, would “never negotiate” with the militants in his country, according to the pan-African news aggregator allafrica.com,. He articulated, “The only negotiations that matter with these armed bandits are those taking place on the battlefield.” Burkina Faso looks to rely heavily on its armed self-defense force, The Volunteers for the Defense of the Homeland, or VDP (Volontaires pour la défense de la patrie). The VDP is an auxiliary unit working alongside the armed forces of Burkina Faso, which has been criticized for providing civilians arms and authority for violence with as little as two weeks of training.[iv] Burkina Faso is also presumed to be receiving some assistance from the Wagner Group to facilitate this kinetic response, which it has officially denied.[v] Niger has taken a different approach, combining negotiations with AQ and IS elements with kinetic counterterror efforts. Niger’s counterterrorism strategy is seen as being much more effective than the zero-tolerance negotiation policy of other Sahelian states, according to a second article from the centrist pan-African think tank The Institute for Security Studies.. Niger’s approach is modeled after the successes of two other regional states, Algeria and Mauritania, to their own insurgencies, and it derived from its own successful history of addressing Tuareg rebellions that plagued the country for years. The military-first approach to counterterrorism in the Sahel has shown its limits over the past decade. The authors of the second article give advise: “Niger’s neighbors in the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea that are affected by violent extremism should take inspiration from the country’s strategy as they tackle the insecurity afflicting their populations.”


Sources:

Burkina Faso: Prime Minister Rules Out Any Deal With Jihadists, Boosts Civil Militias,” Allafrica.com (pan-African news aggregator), 31 May 2023. https://allafrica.com/stories/202305310419.html  

Burkina Faso’s prime minister on Tuesday ruled out any negotiations with jihadist insurgents that have taken control of swathes of the West African country since 2015. 

“We will never negotiate, either over Burkina Faso’s territorial integrity or its sovereignty,” Apollinaire Kyelem de Tambela told parliament, adding that the government aimed to double the number of volunteers for the VDP civil defence militia to 100,000. 

“The only negotiations that matter with these armed bandits are those taking place on the battlefield,” de Tambela told the Transitional Legislative Assembly. 


Hassane Koné and Fahiraman Rodrigue Koné, “Is Niger’s counter-terrorism approach an exception in the Sahel?” Institute for Security Studies (centrist pan-African think tank), 5 April 2023. https://issafrica.org/iss-today/is-nigers-counter-terrorism-approach-an-exception-in-the-sahel  

In early 2022, Nigerien authorities recognised the need for dialogue with jihadist leaders in Tillabéri. This was inspired after several Nigeriens defected from their extremist groups, and violence in the Diffa region decreased after a disarmament and reintegration process launched in 2016…. 

The use of dialogue in Tillabéri shows strong political will on the part of the government, which is keen to disincentivise engagement with extremist groups, and stabilise the region. Niger’s approach, which combines dialogue and military action, starkly contrasts with the regional trend. Neighbouring countries have reinforced their military tactics through diversifying strategic alliance and employing armed civilians…  

By including dialogue in its counter-terrorism efforts, Niger is experimenting with an approach similar to those in Algeria and Mauritania, underpin their decade-long protection against jihadist violence. 

Niger’s neighbours in the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea that are affected by violent extremism should take inspiration from the country’s strategy as they tackle the insecurity afflicting their populations. A coordinated regional approach would also exert pressure on terrorist groups and ultimately deprive them of human resources.


Notes:

[i] For more on the Sahel’s role as the new center of global jihadism, see: Jason Warner, “Global Terrorism Declined Slightly in 2022, With the Sahel as the New Epicenter,” OE Watch, 05-2023, https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/global-terrorism-declined-slightly-in-2022-with-the-sahel-as-the-new-epicenter/; Jason Warner, “African Leaders, UN See Terrorism in the Sahel as Dire,” OE Watch, 11-2022. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/429303

[ii] For more on the status of Al-Qaeda in the Sahel and Sahara, see: Jason Warner, “Leader of Al-Qaeda’s Sahelian Branch Explains His Group’s Goals,” OE Watch, 05-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/leader-of-al-qaedas-sahelian-branch-explains-his-groups-goals/; Jason Warner, “Al-Qaeda Leader in Maghreb Celebrates French Departure, Claims No Plans To Attack French Homeland,” OE Watch, 04-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/al-qaeda-leader-in-maghreb-celebrates-french-departure-claims-no-plans-to-attack-french-homeland/

[iii] For more on the status of the Islamic State in Africa, see: Jason Warner, “”UN Warns About Islamic State Surging in Africa and Afghanistan,” OE Watch, 03-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/un-warns-about-islamic-state-surging-in-africa-and-afghanistan/

[iv] For more on the VDP and critiques of it, see: Jason Warner, “Burkina Faso Fights Terrorism With Recruits and Russia,” OE Watch, 02-2023. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/436264

[v] For more on Burkina Faso’s relationship with Wagner and Russia, see: Jason Warner, “Russia-Supported Military Rulers in Mali, Burkina, and Guinea Continue To Deepen Ties,” OE Watch, 04-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/russia-supported-military-rulers-in-mali-burkina-faso-and-guinea-continue-to-deepen-ties/; Jason Warner, “Burkina Faso Fights Terrorism With Recruits and Russia,” OE Watch, 02-2023. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/436264


Image Information:

Image: Niger and Burkina Faso, both afflicted with jihadist violence, demonstrate divergent views on negotiating with jihadists from the Islamic State (flag pictured below) and Al-Qaeda  
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/121483302@N02/14690988398  
Attribution: CC BY-SA 2.0


Leader of Al-Qaeda’s Sahelian Branch Explains His Group’s Goals

Map of West Africa.

Map of West Africa.


The countries that attacked and fought us under the banner of France and its allies, we will do everything in our power to fight them and transfer the war to these countries.”


Following a groundbreaking interview with the head of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) by France 24 in March 2023,[i]the independent website Africa Perceptions has published a new interview with the head of AQIM’s Sahelian branch,Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM). Meaning “Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims,” JNIM has recently been named one of the three deadliest terrorist groups in the world, one of the greatest threats to West African stability, and the core cause of the massive uptick in violence from the Sahel.[ii] As the United States, its African allies, and the international community at large seek to stem the tide of terrorism decimating the Sahel and increasingly spreading into littoral West Africa,[iii] understanding the perspectives of the perpetrators of the violence remains as important as ever.The interview of JNIM’s leader, Saydin Ag Hita alias Uthman al-Qayrawani, is much longer than is portrayed below, touching on JNIM’s relations with other jihadist groups and local populations in Mali among other topics. When asked about his group’s broader goals, al-Qayrawani’s responses reasserted the centrality of the jihadist mission: “The primary objective of this group is what appears in its name, namely support for Islam and Muslims…It is about waging jihad for the cause of Allah, so that the word of Allah is supreme, and it also means that the earth and its inhabitants must be governed by the religion of Allah [Islam].” Given this desire to have the entirety of the world under Islamic rule, his interpretation is that the friends of his enemies are also his enemies. As such, he is clear that not only France (which led counterterrorism operations against the group until recently), but those countries that supported France or received support from France (such as Niger), the Malian regime and its allies (like the Wagner Group), other West African countries (including Benin, Togo, and Ghana), and the broader international NGO and humanitarian corps are all potentially in the crosshairs of his group. In the full interview, he also refused to answer a question about his group’s adversarial relationship with the Islamic State.


Source:

“Exclusif: Le Chef De La JNIM, Alliée D’Al-Qaïda Au Sahel, Explique Le Sens Et La Raison De Ses Guerres (Exclusive: The Leader of JNIM, An Ally Of Al-Qaeda In The Sahel, Explains The Meaning And The Reason For His Wars)” African Perceptions, 16 April 2023. https://africanperceptions.org/fr/2023/04/exclusif-le-chef-de-la-jnim-alliee-dal-qaida-au-sahel-explique-le-sens-et-la-raison-de-ses-guerres/

 “African Perception” publishes here the entire exclusive interview given on March 22, 2023 by Saydin Ag Hita alias Uthman al-Qayrawani. Self-proclaimed governor of Kidal, in Mali, for the Sahelian branch of Al-Qaeda, Ag Hita notably evokes the religious and military objectives of the organization, both in Mali and abroad, its agreements with local groups such as the MSA (the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad) led by Moussa Ag Acharatoumane, and the GATIA, coordination with jihadist units throughout Africa, the future of the mercenaries of the Russian Wagner group and the course of the war with the Sahelian province of Daesh.

African Perceptions: What are the goals of the Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen? Are they limited to the application of the Islamic sharia in Mali or in the countries of the African Sahel, or do they target other countries? If yes, which ones?

Uthman al-Qayrawani: The primary objective of this group is what appears in its name, namely support for Islam and Muslims. Its purpose is clear from its name. In other words, it is about waging jihad for the cause of Allah, so that the word of Allah is supreme, and it also means that the earth and its inhabitants must be governed by the religion of Allah (Islam).

As for what you say, the countries of the African Sahel, or the targeting of other countries, what is that? We launched our call for jihad in Mali and we also fought the regime in place in that country. The Malian government asked for help from France, which intervened with nearly 60 countries and all their military forces. Some of these countries were known as Takuba, others as G5 and still others as MINUSMA. On the other hand, Muslims fighting for the cause of Allah came from several countries to support their religion and their mujahid brothers, and most of them came from neighboring countries (I mean Muslims), and up to ‘now the war has not ended.

The countries that attacked and fought us under the banner of France and its allies, we will do everything in our power to fight them and transfer the war to these countries. Those who abandoned us, we will abandon them, and those who fought us, we will fight them. And whoever started is the most unfair.

African Perceptions: While you were fighting Daesh in Ménaka and battling the armies of Mali and Burkina Faso with intense operations, you launched operations targeting Benin and Togo. What is the objective of these, especially at a time when you need to unite your ranks in Mali against Daesh?

Uthman al-Qayrawani: Our operations in Togo and Benin are due to several reasons. For example, when these countries felt the presence of the mujahideen on the Burkinabè border, they tried to harass them from several sides and they also oppressed the Muslims, especially the Fulanis, with all forms of injustice – murder, imprisonment, and flight. These strikes were therefore carried out in retaliation for the actions perpetrated by these countries against the mujahideen and all innocent Muslims.

African Perceptions: You fought the French military presence in Mali by waging a war until the total withdrawal of their soldiers from the country. How do you see the future of Russian forces and Wagner’s mercenaries in Mali?

Uthman al-Qayrawani: First of all, Allah is sufficient for us and He is the best in managing affairs. What we see in the future for Russian forces and Wagner’s mercenaries in Mali is defeat, with Allah’s permission. Allah the Almighty said: “Those who disbelieve spend their wealth to divert it from the way of Allah, and they will continue to spend it, but it will eventually cause them anguish.” They will then be defeated. And those who disbelieve will be gathered in Hell” [Al-Anfal, 36]. We consider that this is the last card left to the military regime in place in Mali, and that if it is defeated, there will be no more allies to fight alongside it and try to eliminate his enemy.


Notes:

[i] For more on the interview with AQIM’s leader, see: Jason Warner, “Al-Qaeda Leader in Maghreb Says Group Has No Plans to Attack French Homeland, Though Celebrates French Departure,” OE Watch, 4-2023.

[ii] For more on JNIM’s contribution to West African terrorism, see: Jason Warner, “UN Warns About Islamic State Surging in Africa and Afghanistan,” OE Watch, 3-2023. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/437258 Jason Warner, “African Leaders, UN See Terrorism in the Sahel as Dire,” OE Watch, 11-2022. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/429303

[iii] For more on the threats to littoral West African states from northern terrorism, see: Jason Warner, “Coastal West African States Brace for Wave of Terrorism From the Sahel,” OE Watch, 10-2022. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/428040


Image Information:

Image: Map of West Africa.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sahel_Base_Map.png
Attribution: JRC, European Commission, CC BY 4.0

Mozambique Regains Control of Islamic State-Afflicted Northern Province With Rwandan Help

Rwandan Patrol Mocimboa

Rwandan Patrol Mocimboa.


“Under the watchful eye of heavily armed Mozambican and Rwandan soldiers who guard the streets, the regular activity in the town center has revived again.”


In March 2023, Portuguese Radio and Television, which produces perspectives from Portugal and the broader Portuguese-speaking world, published the excerpted article noting that Mozambique northern province of Cabo Delgado, which two years ago was under siege by militants affiliated with the Islamic State (IS), is now back under the control of the Mozambican government. The key turning point was the intervention of Rwandan troops to support Mozambican military personnel.[i] Mozambique-Rwanda military forces continue to work together in Cabo Delgado to ensure that IS militants do not return. Although the article states that civilians have expressed their gratitude for the newfound security in Cabo Delgado, civilians also claim that the violence is still close by in towns such as Palma. Roads leading into rural areas remain at risk, and militants still erect flash checkpoints on roadways and abduct, steal from, and even kill civilians. According to the article, while the military’s counterinsurgency strategy has been a success, there has been no economic revival plan for Cabo Delgado, which could impede future progress. While some businesses have benefitted from the renewed security, there are still few jobs and significant unemployment among Cabo Delgado’s working-age population. As the article asserts, if the counterinsurgency strategy does not include or result in an economic revival in Cabo Delgado, jobless disaffected youth may still turn to the militants out of economic desperation.


Source:

“Vida regressa a Palma sob patrulha, dois anos após ataque no norte de Moçambique” (Life returns to Palma under patrols two years after the attack in northern Mozambique),” rtp.pt (popular Portuguese-language broadcaster covering Lusaphone affairs), 9 March 2023. https://www.rtp.pt/noticias/mundo/vida-regressa-a-palma-sob-patrulha-dois-anos-apos-ataque-no-norte-de-mocambique_n1472006

Under the watchful eye of heavily armed Mozambican and Rwandan soldiers who patrol the streets, the regular activity in the town center has revived again. Some contractors already announced their return to Afungi, the site of the energy facilities, in the middle of this year, but decisions from the French oil company TotalEnergies are pending.Meanwhile, the population complains about the lack of opportunities to benefit them from the largest private investment in Africa…. Unemployment and lack of opportunities – namely in emerging investments linked to gas – have been indicated by several observers as some of the reasons why young people are recruited into the ranks of the rebels in northern Mozambique.


Notes:

[i] The Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) entered Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique in 2021 to combat the IS-loyal militants in the country. The RDF succeeded in reducing the violence in much of Cabo Delgado and training Mozambican troops in counterinsurgency and, as a result, the RDF deployment period has been extended. For more on Rwanda’s military interventions in the region, see: Brendon J. Cannon & Federico Donelli, “Rwanda’s Military Deployments in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Neoclassical Realist Account,” The International Spectator, 58:1, 109-127, (2023).


Image Information:

Image: Rwandan Patrol Mocimboa.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RwandanpatrolMocimboa.png
Attribution: CC x 2.0

CAR Joins Mali in Accusing France of Funding Terrorists

View from Bangui, Central African Republic.

View from Bangui, Central African Republic.


“The Central African Republic has been subjected since its independence to systematic looting facilitated by the political instability maintained by certain Western countries or their companies which finance armed terrorist groups.”


The leader of the Central African Republic (CAR), Faustin-Archange Touadéra, is taking a now-familiar tack in the region by accusing French entities of funding insurgents in the country. As described in the first accompanying article from the pan-African news outlet Jeune Afrique, at a recent UN meeting of the Least Developed Countries in Doha,Touadéra offered a fiery speech denouncing his country’s destabilization thanks to “certain Western countries or their companies which finance armed terrorist groups.”Of note is the inclusion of “or their companies” in this statement. The second excerpted article, from the pan-African news aggregator Le Journal de l’Afrique, reveals that the French beverage manufacturer Castel is being investigated for potentially having funded rebels in CAR to allow Castel to maintain production there. Touadéra’s decision to implicitly claim that France and its companies are funding insurgents in the country may sound familiar: the president of the transition government in Mali, Assimi Goïta, did essentially the same thing during a speech to the UN General Assembly in September 2022.[i] Anti-French, and relatively newly pro-Russian sentiment, is most visibly taking hold in Mali[ii] and Burkina Faso,[iii] but it is also evident in CAR, which likewise employs Russian Wagner Group mercenaries. These three countries, along with Guinea, are now all seemingly establishing closer ties, especially in the security realm. Denouncing France as the source of instability would appear to be a tactic that will continue to be used by all four in the future.


Sources:

“Faustin-Archange Touadéra charge les Occidentaux (Fausting-Achange Touadera accues the West),” Jeune Afrique (centrist pan-African news site), 6 March 2023. https://www.jeuneafrique.com/1424138/politique/faustin-archange-touadera-charge-les-occidentaux/

During a summit of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) under the aegis of the UN in Doha, Central African President Faustin-Archange Touadéra violently attacked Westerners, accusing them of “maintaining political instability” to plunder the wealth of the country and prevent its development. The Head of State deemed his country “a victim of geostrategic aims linked to its natural resources”.

The Central African Republic [CAR] has been subjected since its independence to systematic looting facilitated by the political instability maintained by certain Western countries” and “armed terrorist groups whose leaders are foreign mercenaries”, he denounced. “The recurring attacks” of these groups aim to “make the country ungovernable, to prevent the State from exercising its right of sovereignty over natural reserves and its legitimate right to self-determination”.


Omar Lucien Koffi, “Centrafricaine: Touadéra dénonce le ‘pillage’ de l’Occident (Central African Republic: Touadéra dencounces the ‘pillage’ by the West),” Le Journal de l’Afrique (pan-African news aggregator), 6 March 2023. https://lejournaldelafrique.com/republique-centrafricaine-touadera-denonce-le-pillage-de-loccident/  

In Bangui, in the Central African Republic, pro-government activists took to the streets of the capital to denounce the “Machiavellian plan of Westerners” against their country. Among the targets of the demonstrators: Castel. The beverage giant has been the target of an investigation by the French anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office since last summer after revelations about alleged remuneration for the Unit for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) by Castel, which had thus been able to continue its activities in Ouaka province, despite rebel control. In February, several campaigns were launched against Castel, and more precisely its local subsidiary, the Mocaf brewery, under the leadership of Wagner.

From now on, it is no longer simply Castel that poses a problem, but the West. And now, it is no longer a question of a simple campaign on social networks or in the streets of Bangui. This Sunday, March 5, it is the President of the Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, who attacked the West. A resounding exit, in full United Nations Conference on the least developed countries. And which echoes a discourse that is increasingly widespread throughout the continent.

“The Central African Republic has been subjected since its independence to systematic looting facilitated by the political instability maintained by certain Western countries or their companies which finance armed terrorist groups whose main leaders are foreign mercenaries”, launched Touadéra who considers that the CAR is a “victim of geostrategic aims linked to its natural resources.” Thus, “foreign interference” would keep the CAR in “dependence, insecurity, and instability,” to better plunder the wealth of the country, therefore.But at the same time, the president of the Central African Republic is asking for the relaunch of international budgetary aid, while his government has had to do without it since it has been in contact with the Russian group Wagner. Touadéra met Emmanuel Macron in Libreville, during the One Forest Summit, on March 2.


Notes:

[i] See: Jason Warner, “Mali Claims France Funded Terrorists: France Denies,” OE Watch, 10-2022. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/428171

[ii] See: Jason Warner, “Mali Defends Reliance on Russian Counterterrorism Assistance,” OE Watch, 3-2023. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/437332 

[iii] See: Jason Warner, “Burkina Faso: A Bellwether on Russia and French Presence,” OE Watch, 11-2022. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/429302; Jason Warner, “Burkina Faso Fights Terrorism with Recruits and Russia,” OE Watch, 02-2023. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/436264


Image Information:

Image: View from Bangui, Central African Republic
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gridarendal/31380037380
Attribution:  Non-Commercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Russia-Supported Military Rulers in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea Continue To Deepen Ties


“Giant posters of Malian Presidents Assimi Goïta and Guinean President Mamady Doumbouya, who came to power through coups like the Burkinabè transitional president, Captain Ibrahim Traoré, were brandished by the demonstrators next to Russian flags.”


A new nexus of West African allies is emerging that bears watching. Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, which are all led by military dictators generally sympathetic to Russia and antagonistic towards France, continue to deepen their ties, especially regarding military and counterterrorism affairs. As detailed in the first article from the pan-African news aggregator Africanews.com, in March 2023, the prime minister of Burkina Faso suggested on a visit to Mali that the two countries create what he called “a federation.” A similar idea had also been broadly discussed in February 2023, when leaders from Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea—all of whom had faced sanctions from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for unconstitutional assumptions of power—also discussed the creation of a new regional organization to help them circumvent ECOWAS.[i] Of note is the inclusion of Guinea in the mix. Since Guinea faces no similar jihadist insurgency as Mali and Burkina Faso, it does not appear to have the same degree of pro-Russian sentiments as Mali[ii] and Burkina Faso,[iii] which host or are presumed to host mercenaries from the Russian private military company Wagner Group, respectively. Yet, the fact that Guinea is ruled by a military leader may be sufficient to pull Guinea into the pro-Russia orbit of the other two. As detailed in the second article from Africanews.com, this nexus of geopolitical affinities and antipathy was displayed at a January 2023 rally in Burkina Faso decrying French presence and promoting Burkinabè sovereignty. As the article articulates, “Giant posters of Malian Presidents Assimi Goïta and Guinean President Mamady Doumbouya, who seized power like the Burkinabè transitional president, Captain Ibrahim Traoré, were brandished by the demonstrators next to Russian flags.” As this alliance deepens, other francophone West African countries with pro-Russian, anti-French sentiments from civil society, namely, the Central African Republic and Chad, may well be targeted for future recruitment.


Sources:

“Le Burkina Faso aspire à créer ‘une fédération’ avec le Mali (Burkina Faso seeks to create a federation with Mali),” africanews.com (pan-African news aggregator), 2 March 2023. https://fr.africanews.com/2023/02/02/le-burkina-faso-aspire-a-creer-une-federation-avec-le-mali/

Burkinabe Prime Minister Apollinaire Joachimson Kyelem de Tambela, visiting neighboring Mali this week, has suggested the creation of a “federation” between his country and Mali.

 The two states, faced with jihadist violence, and led by putschist soldiers who demanded the departure of French soldiers from their territories, have come closer in recent months.

In a speech during a dinner, the head of the Malian government, Choguel Kokalla Maïga, estimated that this working visit will strengthen the ties of cooperation on the security and economic levels between the Republic of Mali and Burkina Faso:


“Des milliers de Burkinabés manifestent pour la ‘souveraineté nationale’ (Thousands of Burkinabe protest for ‘national sovereignty’),” africanews.com (pan-African news aggregator), 30 January 2023. https://fr.africanews.com/2023/01/29/des-milliers-de-burkinabes-manifestent-pour-la-souverainete-nationale/

Gathered in Place de la Nation, in the center of the capital, at the call of the coordination of associations and organizations of civil society, the demonstrators held up placards on which one could read: “Imperialism, down”, ” French policy in Africa, down”, “No to Macron’s diktat”, or “Forward for the sovereignty of Burkina”.

Giant posters of Malian Presidents Assimi Goïta and Guinean President Mamady Doumbouya, who came to power through coups like the Burkinabè transitional president, Captain Ibrahim Traoré, were brandished by the demonstrators next to Russian flags.“Sovereignty, freedom of choice of its partners, obstinate defense of the interests of the Malian people. I am certain that these principles are shared by all the countries which want to take charge of themselves and our brothers and friends of Faso, I am convinced of it, must have similar requirements.”


Notes:

[i] See: Jason Warner, “West African States Ruled by Military Leaders Seek To Circumvent Future Sanctions,” OE Watch, 03-2023. Awaiting online publication.

[ii] See: Jason Warner, “Mali Defends Reliance on Russian Counterterrorism Assistance,” OE Watch, 03-2023. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/437332

[iii] See: Jason Warner, “Burkina Faso Fights Terrorism with Recruits and Russia,” OE Watch, 02-2023. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/436264

Algeria Seeks Non-Alignment by Preserving Russia Ties While Welcoming NATO Overtures

Algeria hosts final planning conference for joint Russian-Algerian exercise Desert Shield 2022.

Algeria hosts final planning conference for joint Russian-Algerian exercise Desert Shield 2022.


“Algeria clings to the principle of non-alignment.”


While Russia appears to be courting Algeria in a bid to reduce its isolation, Algeria is keeping its options open by engaging with both Russia and NATO member states. In January 2023, the Algerian government announced that President Abdelmadjid Tebboune would visit Moscow and meet with President Putin in May 2023.[i] At the May 2023 presidential summit, Russia is hoping to sign a new strategic cooperation partnership document with Algeria, if for no other reason than to make the case that Russia is not fully isolated and retains key strategic partnerships. In addition, Russia seeks to finalize a major weapons deal to show that its military export industry remains viable. The deal would be centered on the Su-57 [GRLCUT(1] stealth multirole fighter aircraft, according to the second article excerpt from the Russian-language news network RT Arabic and other news stories regularly recycled by Russian Arabic language media over the past year. Indeed, Russian expectations for the presidential summit are high, and its media and officials are going out of their way to flatter Algeria: as detailed in the first excerpted article, in an early February interview with RT Arabic, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that, in trying to turn Algeria against Russia using pressure, the West was “messing with the wrong guy.”

Algerian leadership, however, seems less enthusiastic about a singular deepening of relations with Russia: quite the opposite, judging by recent Algerian diplomatic activities. A week before the January announcement that he would visit Moscow in May, President Tebboune hosted Italy’s prime minister and discussed expanding bilateral trade, of which Algerian gas supplies to Europe via Italian pipelines are a centerpiece. Concurrently, Said Chengriha, the Chief of Staff of the Algerian armed forces, led a large delegation to Paris, where he was received by President Macron, met with several high-ranking military and government officials, and signed a security cooperation “roadmap” on his government’s behalf, as reported in the second accompanying excerpt from the Algerian monthly military journal El Djeich. Shortly after returning from Paris, Chengriha hosted U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Commander Gen. Michael E. Langley, where he reiterated Algerian non-alignment and commitment to dealing “with many friendly countries,” including the United States, as reported in the third accompanying piece, a Facebook post from the Algerian Ministry of Defense. Algeria remains an appealing security partner for Russia, given its strategic location on NATO’s southern flank and the historical links between the Algerian and Soviet militaries; however, Algeria is unlikely to sacrifice its substantial commercial relations with Europe. Indeed, except for arms deals, Russian-Algerian trade remains negligible, and Europe’s embargo on Russian natural gas may ultimately benefit Algerian gas exports. Still, the fact that Algeria continues to value its partnership with Russia will force its government to carefully balance existing relations and new entreaties from both Russia and NATO countries. If Algiers continues to successfully navigate these competing pulls, its approach may well emerge as a model for other Arab countries seeking to do the same, most notably Saudi Arabia.


Sources:

لافروف: الولايات المتحدة تحاول إملاء سياستها على الجزائر لكنها “هاجمت الشخص الخطأ”

(Lavrov: The United States is trying to impose its policy on Algeria, but it messed with the wrong guy),” RT Arabic (Russian Arabic-language media outlet), 1 February 2023. https://tinyurl.com/yjwsfakc

In response to a question about whether Western pressures will affect the Algerian authorities’ policy towards Russia, he added, “We have a popular saying that says, ‘You messed with the wrong guy’. Algerians can’t be told what to do in this manner, you cannot expect them to comply with and implement directives that contradict their national interests based simply on a hand signal from across the ocean. Algeria, like most countries, is a country that respects itself, its history and its interests, and draws its policies on this basis.”

هل تحصل الجزائر على مقاتلة روسية تتبع 60 هدفا في وقت واحد؟

(Will Algeria obtain Russian jets that can simultaneously track 60 targets?),” RT Arabic (Russian Arabic-language media outlet), 1 February 2023. https://tinyurl.com/2uautj98

Russian media reported that Algeria might become the first country to possess the fifth-generation Russian Su-57 fighters, as talks were held with Russia at the end of 2020. There is talk of at least 14 aircraft being involved, scheduled for delivery before 2030.

“Monsieur le général d’armée, Saïd Chanegriha, chef d’état-major de l’Armée nationale populaire, en visite officielle en France (Army General Saïd Chanegriha, Chief of Staff of the National People’s Army, on an official visit to France),” El Djeich (Algerian armed forces monthly magazine), February 2023. https://rb.gy/levz2

The talks examined ways of strengthening military and security cooperation between the two countries. Subsequently, the meeting was formalized by the signing of a joint roadmap.

No title. Algerian Ministry of Defense Facebook Page, 8 February 2023. https://www.facebook.com/mdn.gov.dz/posts/505345958434848“I would like to emphasize on this occasion that Algeria clings to the principle of non-alignment, and jealously guards its history full of glories and heroism, as well as its independence and sovereign political decision-making. It interacts in a way that serves its own interests and deals with many friendly countries with which it has military and economic relations, such as the United States of America.”


Notes:

[i] Although officially neutral vis-à-vis Ukraine, the Algerian government has been accused of aligning with Russia due to its abstention on UN votes condemning the Ukraine invasion and the extensive bilateral high-level security contacts that followed the invasion. The deepening partnership was to be bolstered by two much-anticipated late-2022 events: joint anti-terror exercises on Algerian soil in October (“Desert Shield 2022”), and the Algerian president’s Moscow visit, which was supposed to occur before the end of 2022. In the end, the exercises were unceremoniously called off at the last minute, and the 2022 presidential visit has now been rescheduled for May 2023, though a firm date has not been set. For added context see: Lucas Winter, “Algeria Caught Between Neutrality and Strategic Relations with Russia,” OE Watch, 5-2022.  https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-past-issues/415497


Image Information:

Image: Algeria hosts final planning conference for joint Russian-
Algerian exercise Desert Shield 2022.
Source: https://rb.gy/zgyvr
Attribution: CC BY-SA 4.0

West African States Ruled by Military Leaders Seek To Circumvent Future Sanctions

Map of the participants of the first Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (1961).

Map of the participants of the first Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (1961).


“Guinea, Burkina [Faso], and Mali want to launch an unofficial organization of non-aligned African countries and unite to be stronger in the face of sub-regional bodies.”


The Foreign Affairs Ministers of Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali—West African countries all led by military heads of state that claimed power outside of elections[i]—recently convened in early February. The meeting ultimately concluded with them all seeking to fully rejoin the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has placed various sanctions on each of the countries over the past two years.[ii] According to the accompanying excerpted article from the francophone West African news site Le Journal de L’Afrique, the meeting is being read locally as an attempt to circumvent future sanctions by creating alternative forms of sub-regional unity. As the author of the article articulates, the countries “want to launch an unofficial organization of non-aligned African countries and unite to be stronger in the face of sub-regional bodies.” Of note, Mali and Burkina Faso are the two West African countries most closely tied to Russia, whose Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, visited Mali days before the meeting. A reversion to “non-aligned” rhetoric of African international relations suggests that as competition between the United States, China, and especially Russia, deepens on the continent, West Africans increasingly view such jockeying through the lens of a new Cold War, and thus seek to maintain policy autonomy. This appears to be true in this case, even though two of the three countries—Mali and Burkina Faso—are known Russian allies. While Guinea’s inclusion in the trifecta may be read, as it is by the accompanying article’s author, as “an encounter between marginalized countries,” meaning those sanctioned because of military takeovers,it can equally be read as a meeting of West African states in the Russian orbit. While Guinea clearly falls into the first category, it is not often discussed as part of the second., Guinea looks to be high on the list of which African states Russia might next target for allyship.


Source:

Frédéric Ange Touré, “Pour le Mali, le Burkina Faso et la Guinée, l’union pourra-t-elle faire la force? (For Mail, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, can unity be strength?),” Le Journal de L’Afrique (pan-African news aggregator), 9 February 2023. https://lejournaldelafrique.com/pour-le-mali-le-burkina-faso-et-la-guinee-lunion-pourra-t-elle-faire-la-force/

While the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the various African countries are used to meeting, often under the aegis of sub-regional organizations or the African Union, the meeting between the heads of diplomacy from Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea looks like an encounter between marginalized countries.

These three countries have in common to have suffered coups in recent years. But also for having tried to stand up to ECOWAS and other organizations that threatened them with sanctions – which were most of the time applied. Finally, from Bamako to Ouagadougou, via Conakry, the Russian temptation has succeeded partnerships with France.

Under the aegis of the Burkinabè government, the three foreign ministers, Abdoulaye Diop, Morissanda Kouyaté and Olivia Rouamba, wanted to meet to discuss the future of their countries. A meeting which, coincidence or not of the calendar, took place barely two days after the visit of the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, to Mali. The latter, among other things, promised his aid “to the Sahelo-Saharan region and even to the countries bordering the Gulf of Guinea.”Morissanda Kouyaté, before any joint declaration, sold the wick as to the message that would be sent. “Together, we are going to make a statement to regional organizations, so that we can hear even more audibly the claims and requests of our peoples through our governments and our leaders”. In other words, Guinea, Burkina and Mali want to launch an unofficial organization of non-aligned African countries and unite to be stronger in the face of sub-regional bodies.


Notes:

[i] Mali experienced overthrows of the government in August 2020 and May 2021, Guinea in September 2021, and Burkina Faso in January 2022.

[ii] For more on ECOWAS’ sanctions against these countries, see: “ECOWAS lifts Mali sanctions, agrees on Burkina transition,” AfricaNews, 4 July 2022. https://www.africanews.com/2022/07/04/ecowas-lifts-mali-sanctions-agrees-on-burkina-transition//


Image Information:

Image: Map of the participants of the first Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (1961)
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1st_Summit_of_the_Non-Aligned_Movement.jpg
Attribution: Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 4.0 International


Mali Defends Reliance on Russian Counterterrorism Assistance

Map of Mali.

Map of Mali.


“What matters…is how [Mali and Russia] work together to fight against jihadism, recalling that in certain cases, terrorism is manufactured to destabilize our countries.”


Mali and Russia’s security relationship appears to be ever-deepening. Even as both are criticized for their approaches to dealing with jihadist violence in Mali,[i] with many analysts suggesting that the Wagner presence is exacerbating the problem,[ii] Malian leadership is full-throated in its defense of its Russian partner. In the accompanying article from Le Journal du Mali, Mali’s Foreign Minister dispels any pretense that international condemnation of its partnership with Russia may change its decision. One of the most important sentiments from his statements is that Russia is willing to provide Mali with the requisite material to make effective gains against the al-Qaeda and Islamic State-aligned groups that have, since January 2023, shown a clear interest in moving toward the capital, Bamako.[iii] Implicitly, this nod is a slight directed at both France and the United States whose unwillingness, Mali and Burkina Faso have argued, to give more assistance to West African states to address their internal security challenges has forced them to turn to Russia. A second prevailing position in the Malian Foreign Minister’s remarks is that Mali views its partnership with Russia as one that is based on Bamako’s own autonomy to make sovereign security policy choices: in this instance, this is an implicit slight to the longstanding French military and counterterrorism presence that has been essentially expelled from the country, not least because of declining citizen opinion of France. Finally, a third, though more subtle line of rhetoric is the suggestion that “in certain cases, terrorism is manufactured to destabilize our countries.” This notion that external actors—again, namely France—have actually worked to support terrorist groups in the country has been a common false claim that the interim government has made, going so far as to bring the assertion to the UN Security Council in August 2022.[iv] Such vociferous defenses of military collaboration with Russia are likely to continue, not only from Mali but from other African countries as well.


Source:

Abdoulaye Diop, “La Russie est ici à la demande du Mali (Russia is here at Mali’s request),” Journal du Mali (West African news aggregator), 8 February 2023. https://www.journaldumali.com/2023/02/08/la-russie-est-ici-a-la-demande-du-mali-abdoulaye-diop/

According to the Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs, this stay “is part of the new dynamic, initiated by the government, consisting in broadening and diversifying Mali’s partnerships with a view to an effective response, and in sincerity, to the challenges we face.”

For the diplomat, his country has chosen to “strengthen” its cooperation with Russia to “demonstrate” that it is free to decide with whom to walk on the basis of the essential pillars defined by the president of the transition: “respect of Mali’s sovereignty, respect for strategic choices and the choice of Mali’s partners, but also taking Mali’s interests into account in all decisions.”

Thus, the Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs insisted on the fact that “Russia is here at the request of Mali.” And it “responds effectively to the needs of Mali in terms of capacity building of its defense and security forces” in the context of the fight against terrorism.

Because what matters, added Mr. Diop, is to see “how to work together to fight against jihadism” recalling that “in certain cases, terrorism is manufactured to destabilize our countries.”

In this sense, he deplored the instrumentalization and politicization of human rights for “hidden” or “barely hidden” agendas often aimed “to overthrow the regime in order to be able to achieve a certain number of objectives.”

The day before Sergei Lavrov’s visit, Mali expelled the director of the human rights division of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) who is accused of having chosen Aminata Dicko to speak on behalf of Malian civil society during the recent review of the United Nations Secretary General’s report on Mali. The latter, in her intervention by videoconference, denounced the abuses committed against Fulani civilians by the army and its Russian auxiliaries.

In his communication, the Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs also wished to welcome the “interest” that Russia gives to “the regular supply of Mali with basic necessities in a particularly difficult context.”Finally, Abdoulaye Diop expressed his solidarity with Russia undergoing sanctions from Western countries in response to the war between it and Ukraine.


Notes:

[i] For instance, in January 2023, a UN human rights group called on authorities in Mali to launch an investigation surrounding the mass executions of several hundred civilians in Moura, Mali in March 2022. The executions were believed to have been carried out by the Malian military, which was operating alongside Wagner mercenaries. See “Mali: Independent rights experts call on probe into Wagner Group’s alleged crimes,” UN News, 31 January 2023. https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/01/1133007

[ii] For more on how the Wagner Group’s presence is contributing to violence in the Sahel, see: Wassim Nasr, “How the Wagner Group is aggravating the Jihadi Threat in the Sahel,” CTC Sentinel, 15 (11), November/December 2022. https://ctc.westpoint.edu/how-the-wagner-group-is-aggravating-the-jihadi-threat-in-the-sahel/

[iii] For more on how al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups in Mali are increasingly moving toward Bamako as of early 2023, see:  Caleb Weiss, “Al Qaeda’s JNIM pushes closer to Malian capital,” FDD’s Long War Journal, 17 January 2023. https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2023/01/al-qaedas-jnim-pushes-closer-to-malian-capital.php

[iv] For more on Mali’s claims to the UN that France funded terrorists in the country, see: Jason Warner, “Mali Claims France Funded Terrorists; France Denies,” OE Watch, 10-2022. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/428171


Image Information:

Image: Map of Mali
Source: https://southafrica-info.com/africa/africa-from-a-to-z/attachment/map-of-africa-and-mali/
Attribution: Creative Commons 4.0

Complications Surround Kenyan Peacemaking in DRC

M-23 launch attack on MONUSCO in Kiwanja.

M-23 launch attack on MONUSCO in Kiwanja.


“One of the missing links has been the continued refusal by Kinshasa to negotiate with the rebel group M23.”


In February 2023, The East African, an online outlet covering regional affairs in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, published the excerpted article on the challenges Kenya faces in mediating the conflict between the Congolese government and rebels of the March 23 Movement, better known as M23. The M23 is predominantly Tutsi and is backed by Rwanda, whose president, Paul Kagame, is Tutsi and sympathizes with M23’s grievances against the Congolese government for neglecting their communities. In 2022, M23 suddenly renewed its offensive against the Congolese government after a nine-year hiatus, which began in 2012 when a fragile truce was achieved. The former Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, who left office in 2022, is heading efforts by the East African Community (EAC) to find a resolution, but the complexities of the conflict make peace elusive. Nevertheless, the article notes there is no plan to replace Kenyatta and that he is incentivized by the goal to make Kenya proud as a regional peacemaker.

According to the article, the inability to reach an agreement is caused, on one end, by the Congolese government’s insistence that M23 rebels are terrorists and refusal to negotiate with them on that basis. One the other end, M23 rebels are willing to meet with Kenyatta but demand direct negotiations with the Congolese government. Kenyatta’s most immediate recommendation is for the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) member-states to all contribute forces to separate the government and rebel lines. At present, however, only Kenyan forces are deployed in the epicenter of the violence in the town of Goma in eastern Congo, while deployments from Burundi, Uganda, and South Sudan have been pledged but not implemented. Further complicating peace efforts is the article’s claim that the Congolese government sees the EACRF mandate as militarily defeating M23, while the EACRF seeks to create conditions for a political process and dialogue. As noted in the excerpted article from Kenya-based publication The Star, 200 Kenyan troops traveled to eastern Congo to join the roughly 700 Kenyan troops already there. According to the article, their mission was not to defeat the M23 rebels, but to remain impartial and stabilize the region to enforce a conclusive peace agreement or at least a more enduring truce than one that had existed from 2012 until 2021.


Sources:

“Uhuru’s delicate balancing act in Congo peace talks assignment,” Theeastafrican.co.ke (regional-oriented weekly newspaper focusing on Kenyan, Ugandan, and Rwandan political, military, and economic affairs), 11 February 2023. theeastafrican.co.ke/tea/news/east-africa/uhuru-delicate-balancing-act-in-dr-congo-4119666

Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta has been praised for helping end the Tigrayan conflict in Ethiopia. As a retired president and a glad-handed statesman, he became an obvious choice for the East African Community (EAC) in its pursuit of peace in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. But the complexity of the Congo conflict has left Kenyatta gasping for breath, with support and opposition coming in equal measure.

Last week, Kenyatta skipped the EAC Summit in Bujumbura called by President Evariste Ndayishimiye to help broker a ceasefire to the violence in eastern DRC.

Kenyatta’s domestic troubles, however, are only part of the problem in brokering peace in the DRC. On Thursday, he endorsed the Summit’s call for a ceasefire and withdrawal of rebels from the positions…. One of the missing links has been the continued refusal by Kinshasa to negotiate with the rebel group M23…. The M23, on their part, are demanding “direct negotiations” with the Congolese government. The rebels also asked to express their grievance to Kenyatta, whom they have met at least twice this year.

“200 more KDF troops arrive in DRC to enforce peace,” thestar.co.ke (independent Nairobi-based newspaper focusing on Kenyan politics), 16 November 2022. https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2022-11-16-200-more-kdf-troops-arrive-in-drc-to-enforce-peace/

The second batch of troops from Kenya to be deployed to fight M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a joint regional operation left the country.A team of about 903 has been deployed to the region to help contain the fighting that has displaced many. About 200 more troops left Nairobi for the troubled region of Goma. Gen Kibochi told the troops to remember their joint mission with other East African Community states to enforce peace. He urged the officers to obey the law of the land as they are deployed. The Commander of the team Major General Jeff Nyaga said they are there to help DRC stabilise.


Image Information:

Image: M-23 launch attack on MONUSCO in Kiwanja
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:M23_launch_attack_on_MONUSCO_in_Kiwanja_(7684320746).jpg
Attribution: MONUSCO Photos (CC x 2.0)