The paper, published today by the Henry Jackson Society, finds that emerging terrorist groupings are on the rise in the region and now risk exporting terror to the UK.
The author, Isaac Kfir, writes that “the Sahel is one of the world’s poorest regions. The situation is made worse by changing ecological conditions that increasingly impact agriculture and tribal life, which in turn affect migration patterns and food production as local populations must come to terms with rising temperatures and a reduction in fresh water.”
He adds “extremists have looked to exploit these conditions, with reports of jihadi preachers focusing their sermons mainly on the Gourmantché and Fulani who have been deprived of access to water, mineral deposits, pastures, and hunting and fishing grounds.”
Local governments, meanwhile, lack the ability “to provide basic services beyond a few urban centres”, a situation terrorists are said to be seeking to exploit.
The rise of local jihadist groups, including Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, are partly the result of failed counterterrorism efforts led by the French Government. He writes “a decade of French-led counterterrorism and counterinsurgency in the Sahel, which was
influenced by the theory of modernisation – defeating terrorists without also expanding and ensuring that the state has the capacity to govern – has proven ineffective”
The report recommends a series of changes to development, migrant, and counterterrorism policies.