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The Sahelian Matrix Of Political Violence

As military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan draw to a close, attention is increasingly shifting to Africa as the next battlefront.

The Sahel is one of the most active conflict theatres on the African continent and has become a major node in the “Global War on Terror” over the past twenty years. After nearly a decade of foreign military intervention through overlapping counterterrorism, stabilization, and military and security training missions, the conflict is often referred to as a ”Forever War” alongside other Western-led military interventions in the Middle East and Africa. As military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan draw to a close, attention is increasingly shifting to Africa as the next battlefront — where the Sahel remains a key geopolitical dilemma.

The crisis is primarily affecting some of the world’s least developed countries, including Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, where more than 6,200 deaths were reported in 2020 — the deadliest year since the conflict erupted in 2012. This year followed the same escalation curve as previous years, a trajectory of multidirectional conflict(s) that continues to transform and whose progress no actor involved controls. In the first eight months of 2021, more than 3800 people have been killed as the result of acts of political violence in the Central Sahel, according to data compiled by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

Read more at the Hoover Institution

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