Eradicate Boko Haram: mulitple actors, uncertain outcome

This note analyses the measures taken to combat Boko Haram and is the continuation of the analysis published on January 8, 2016 dedicated to the development of this group during the period 2012-2015. For the sake of clarity, we have articulated this second text in three parts: the measures taken at national level by the four countries directly affected by the attacks of Boko Haram, those taken by these States in a regional context, primarily the Commission of the Lake Chad Basin (LCBC), and the military assistance provided to these countries by the major powers, mainly France and the United States.

Crédit photo : capture d'écran d'une vidéo de propagande de Boko Haram


Transferts d’armes en Afrique subsaharienne : Au-delà des idées reçues

Un Su-30MK2 de la « Force de défense du peuple ougandais ». Source : Wikimedia Commons

S’il est vrai que les États d’Afrique subsaharienne sont avant tout des importateurs d’armements et que ces importations restent marginales à l’échelle mondiale, celles-ci semblent, depuis quelques années, en hausse et couvrent une palette d’armements conventionnels beaucoup plus large que les seules ALPC. De plus, ces États ne procèdent pas qu’à des importations : nombre d’entre eux agissent comme hub dans des transactions internationales, revendent des surplus de leurs stocks à des pays tiers ou cherchent à exporter le produit de leur industrie locale. Ainsi, ceux-ci se trouvent beaucoup plus « concernés » par le TCA que l’idée reçue décrite plus haut voudrait le faire croire ; malgré cela, les systèmes nationaux de contrôle des transferts restent souvent limités et en inadéquation avec les réalités actuelles du commerce des armes.

French arms sales to Egypt: the risks of an opportunistic cooperation

At two different periods in History, France has been acting with opportunism and pragmatism on the Egyptian armament market. Since 2010, the situation seems to be favorable again as the amounts of the orders and of the delivered equipment are steadily rising. However, these arms transfers have occurred in a very turbulent period linked with a growing political instability and insecurity since Mohamed Morsi’s removal in the summer 2013. Therefore, the risks related to these arms exports are many. 

Crédit photo : Gonzalo Alonso / Dassault aviation / Licence Creative Commons


Libya: arms, embargo and diplomacy in the shadow of the islamist threat

Should arms be sent in Libya to address the growing power of Daech, in case this country would create a national unity government? Such an interrogation raises unavoidable other questions. First from a legal perspective: what about the EU and the UN embargos to which Libya is constrained? Second, from a political point of view: who should be armed, and under which conditions? And thirdly from a military one: why send more arms in a country already flooded with weapons? These are the question this Note will try to answer. 

Crédit photo : obus non explosé à Syrte (crédit : Christian Jacob Hansen, Danish Demining Group)

Air power in question. Contribution to the debate about replacing the F-16s

 Air power in question. Contribution to the debate about replacing the F-16s
The aim of this analysis is to offer a counterargument in the debate about the replacement of the Belgian F-16 fighter-bombers. Many criticisms rightly point to the costs related to the acquisition and maintenance of the fighter-bombers. The question however is not the only problematic one. Generally speaking, the technical, tactical and operational capacities of these airplanes appear to be limited, or even counterproductive. In other words, in spite of their high cost, the fighter-bombers offer a globally debatable contribution to Belgian security policy.
(Photo: The six Belgian F-16A at the Azraq base in Jordan. Source: Ministry of Defense, Air Component)


Monitoring of regional Stability in the Sahel region and in West Africa – October to December 2015

This quarterly monitoring aims to follow the security situation in West Africa with a focus on Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Senegal. It examines in particular broad internal security issues, regional tensions, and cross-border crime and trafficking.

Published by GRIP since 2011, it is part of a project named “Contributing to improve human security, conflict prevention and strengthening the rule of law in Sub-Saharan countries” funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Crédit photo : Visite de la MINUSMA à Anefis, au Nord-Mali, dans le cadre du processus de paix (source : Nations unies/Marco Dormino)

Political change and urban space in West Africa

Since the beginning of this decade, urban areas in West Africa have seen the rise of new patterns of social protest, with no link to party systems. Based on logics of generational tensions, these movements have been at the core of an alternating political power in Burkina Faso and Senegal. The reasons for this protests are mainly related to the high cost of living, improved living conditions and issues of governance. These movements appear to be partly the result of a significant political outreach process and a slow urban associative maturation. In addition, very high social and spatial inequalities in urban areas between a globalized elite and a majority of the population made poor and peripheral are the seeds of an antagonistic resentment. In this context, the outskirts of the cities stand for the place of urban growing discontent.
(Photo from website

Boko Haram: developments 2012-2015

This note highlights the evolution of Boko Haram since 2012, when the jihadist organisation – initially active mainly in north-eastern Nigeria – expanded its attacks to three neighboring countries: Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

Besides increasing the areas under its control, other features explain the development of Boko Haram: structuring, tactics, communication, alliance with other jihadist movements, weapons supply, etc.

Special attention is paid to the year 2015, which marks a turning point in the life of the armed group. The increased involvement of the region's security forces has allowed to considerably reduce the area under its control. If its capacity for harm appears weakened, its adaptability should inspire caution to those who claim that Boko Haram is being eradicated.

Crédit photo : capture d'écran d'une vidéo de propagande de Boko Haram

Mali: progress and challenges

On Friday 20 November, the Radisson Blu of Bamako was attacked by armed men. After being claimed by Al Mourabitoune and Al-Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and then by the Macina Liberation Front in collaboration with Ansar Dine, the attack reflects the recent changes that have been seen within jihadist groups and their modes of action. However, apart from this attack and Mali’s security issues, this note also analyses the country’s overall situation and the progress that have been made since the election of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as Mali’s head of state in August 2013. More specifically, besides the implementation of the peace agreement signed in June 2015, the note addresses four issues: security, development, internal fractures and the State.
Crédit photo : La Grande Mosquée de Djenné (source : Michele Alfieri / 123 RF) 

Military spending in East Asia: Territorial conflicts and spiraling risks

Since 1997, the rise of China brought the level of military spending in East Asia to unprecedented heights, and all regional countries have invested considerable resources in their respective naval forces. In a context characterized by political tensions and territorial disputes, is this military spending pattern posing a risk to regional stability? The present note identifies some of the key components of an overall rush toward the maritime domain in East Asia and assesses that territorial disputes do not just broaden the scope of the regional security dilemma; they reshape it on a basis that is more volatile than ever.

Crédit photo : exercices maritimes entre les marines américaine et sud-coréenne (source : Aaron Shelley/ U.S. Navy)


Arms and diplomacy in Ukraine in the shadow of the Syrian crisis

Should arms be sent in Ukraine, to support the authorities in Kiev against pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass, thus against Russia? Since war erupted in Eastern Ukraine, Western countries are nurturing diverging points of view on this issue. The debate, fuelled by ambiguous concepts such as “non-lethal weapons” or “defensive lethal weapons”, therefore appears to be confusing.
This Analysis aims at taking stock of what is said and done about this thorny issue, made even more complicated by the Syrian crisis.
(Photo:  Radar AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder)


The Israeli-Palestinian issue and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership: Chronicle of an announced failure?

The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership had raised many hopes on both sides of the Mediterranean. Yet the agreements have not been satisfactory and sometimes proved largely disappointing compared to their initial ambitions. The European Neighbourhood Policy and later the Union for the Mediterranean have not been able to revitalize this partnership. A number of shortcomings have shaken it right from the start. Identifying these weaknesses and the political will to address them is therefore, necessary to revitalize the partnership. The main stumbling block continues to be the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The partnership will only become legitimate if it can act credibly and effectively in consultation with other international actors on this decades old central issue for the Mediterranean area - and beyond.

Burkina’s new Mining code: a share of gold for everyone?

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its development strategies are focused mainly on the industrialization of its natural resources. Gold mining has become, since 2009, the country’s main source of economic growth, even though it has failed to initiate the economic leverage needed to improve the living conditions of the population. In order to solve this issue, the transitional government has adopted a new Mining Code in June 2015. This note studies the evolution of this sector so as to determine to what extent the new Mining Code may contribute in making gold the lever of sustainable socio-economic development, which Burkina Faso aspires for 2025?​

Tunisia: a threatened exception

Tunisia is an exception in a deteriorating regional environment. Nearly five years after its revolution, Tunisia’s progressive constitution arises from an unprecedented compromise between political forces whose interests ultimately proved to be compatible. As a tribute to the progress achieved in more than two years, a coalition of four civil society groups was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This highly symbolic honor acknowledges the work of a heterogeneous quartet erected amidst the political crisis and rewards the Tunisian national dialogue. However, the country is facing major obstacles. It suffers from the consequences of the Libyan security vacuum, as well as from the geopolitical tactics of regional powers with conflicting interests. Moreover, Tunisia’s economy is plagued by terrorism, which threatens to undermine its democratic impulse. 

Crédit photo : Marche de la liberté à Tunis, en janvier 2012 (source : Amine Ghrabi / Licence Creative Commons)

Impact de la baisse du prix du pétrole sur les pays producteurs d’Afrique équatoriale

Sauf événement géopolitique majeur ou revirement soudain de la stratégie suivie par l’Arabie saoudite, le prix du pétrole ne devrait pas remonter durablement dans les prochains mois. Comme tous les pays exportateurs à travers le monde, les États producteurs d’Afrique équatoriale sont durement affectés par la chute du prix du pétrole et la réduction des recettes pétrolières depuis l’été 2014, même si le Cameroun, du fait de son économie plus diversifiée et de l’importance de son marché intérieur, est mieux armé pour y faire face.

Les gouvernements ont, pendant plusieurs mois, cherché à minimiser l’ampleur des ajustements budgétaires nécessaires, arguant que la baisse du cours du pétrole ne serait que temporaire. Au cours du premier semestre 2015, tous ont néanmoins dû admettre la nécessité de procéder à des révisions budgétaires se traduisant à la fois par une réduction importante des investissements publics (en particulier dans les projets d’infrastructures qui représentaient pourtant le fer de lance de leurs politiques de développement et de diversification de l’économie) et par une envolée du déficit budgétaire, qui devrait à terme entraîner une hausse (parfois très importante) de l’endettement de ces États. 

2015 Ivorian Elections: Should the EU Have Observed the Polls?

If Africa is the privileged destination of the EU electoral observation missions, the European observers will not be in Ivory Cost for the presidential elections foreseen the 25 of October 2015. After the 2010 electoral conflict, when the EU was massively present, this decision has surprised more than a few.

This article analyses three aspects of the Ivorian electoral process (the Independent Electoral Commission running, the electoral roll redaction and the results traceability), in order to align them with the criteria usually followed by the EU before deciding the deployment of a mission. The aim is to understand if the choice of not being in Ivory Coast this time is relevant. 

Crédit photo : Lancement de l'opération de révision de la liste électorale à Yamoussoukro (source : CEI)

Monitoring of regional Stability in the Sahel region and in West Africa – July to September 2015

This quarterly monitoring aims to follow the security situation in West Africa with a focus on Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Senegal. It examines in particular broad internal security issues, regional tensions, and cross-border crime and trafficking.

Published by GRIP since 2011, it is part of a project named “Contributing to improve human security, conflict prevention and strengthening the rule of law in Sub-Saharan countries” funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

(Photo: élections en Guinée, 10 septembre 2015, ©



Burkina Faso and its army brought to heel by the Regiment of Presidential Security?

Since the fall of Blaise Compaoré on 31 October 2014 following a popular revolt, Burkina Faso goes through a period of political turbulences, with its stability shaken by four attempts by the RSP to end the transition. This time in fact, the RSP managed to perpetrate a coup, but it is not clear yet that it will succeed in ending that regime. This situation is not as unusual as it seems, if one replaces it in the context of the political developments the country has been going through since its independence.

Crédit photo : le chef de la junte, le général Gilbert Diendéré (source : capture d'écran d'une vidéo de France24)


Humanitarian Dimension of Disarmament and Nuclear Danger in France

The humanitarian approach has become central in the discussions on nuclear disarmament. It is based on the risk of detonation of a weapon by a voluntary, accidental or malicious act. Many cases have been reported in the US, UK and Russia. The scarcity of information in France appears to be related to the worship of the "secret" that exists generally on nuclear weapons. But the lack of official information doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a military nuclear accident. Moreover, if the effects of a nuclear detonation are widely shared, French diplomats and French think tanks criticize both the arguments and the purpose of this approach: the elimination of nuclear weapons...
Crédit photo: Marine nationale / Alain Monot

Small arms, new technology and control challenges

Recent technological developments offer new opportunities to strengthen and enhanced existing practices in marking, record-keeping, securing, and tracing of small arms and light weapons. However, new technologies also bring important challenges for existing control instruments and mechanisms with possible negative consequences for international efforts to prevent and combat the illicit trade in small arms. This research note intends to shed light on the recent developments in technology, small arms conception and production, the implications for effective marking, record-keeping and tracing, and consider the effective use of technologies and relevant tools to reinforce its efficiency.

Crédit photo : pièces du pistolet en polymère "Liberator"  produites par une imprimante 3D (source: Justin Pickard/Licence creative commons)

Arms transfer controls in sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons for the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty

This GRIP Analysis sums up the main findings of baseline studies conducted in ten Francophone African countries with the aim to identify challenges ahead in the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty. It takes stock of the strengths and weaknesses of the arms transfer control systems found in place, points out contextual elements believed to be key, and recommends strategies for strengthening these systems through international cooperation and assistance mechanisms...

Crédit photo: traçage d'ALPC en Côte d'Ivoire (source : GRIP/Mélanie De Groof)

Le Congo-Brazzaville et le Rwanda dans la nouvelle géopolitique angolaise : entre hégémonie coopérative et équilibre des puissances

La politique extérieure de l’Angola à l’égard du Congo-Brazzaville et du Rwanda est symptomatique des mutations et de la recomposition des dynamiques politiques en cours dans la sous-région de l’Afrique centrale.

La gestion par l’Angola de sa situation de guerre civile, puis des crises survenues dans la région au cours des dix dernières années, a donné à l'Angola sa propre approche de résolution des conflits et forgé une tendance à cibler des partenariats qui priorisent ses propres intérêts nationaux.

Toutefois, les évolutions politiques récentes dans la sous-région – notamment la montée d’autres puissances prétendantes –, ainsi que la prise en compte du coût des cycles de conflits en Afrique centrale au cours de cette dernière décennie, semblent en partie questionner la viabilité des logiques de projection militaire, au profit d’un retour à la logique diplomatique et au multilatéralisme comme mode de renforcement de l'environnement sécuritaire régional.

Le Tchad : un hégémon aux pieds d’argile

Déjà reconnu pour sa contribution déterminante dans la lutte contre les djihadistes et groupes armés au nord du Mali, le Tchad a confirmé ses aspirations au leadership dans l’espace sahélien en s’appropriant la direction de la lutte contre les islamistes nigérians de Boko Haram, et en reléguant au second plan les géants nigérians et camerounais, pourtant nantis d’économies plus puissantes et plus diversifiées.

À l’instar d’autres puissances montantes de la sous-région, comme l’Angola ou le Rwanda, le Tchad adosse sa politique d’influence naissante sur deux leviers, la capacité de projection de son armée et le déploiement d’une diplomatie volontariste pour se positionner comme interlocuteur incontournable dans l’espace sahélien et en Afrique centrale.

Sa position stratégique, à la charnière des espaces géopolitiques et des systèmes de conflits (de la zone sahélo-saharienne à l’espace nilo-soudanais), sa stabilité relative – en dépit du caractère autoritaire de son régime politique –, ainsi que la qualité de ses forces armées, ont contribué à faire du Tchad, le pivot franco-américain d’une stratégie du contre-terrorisme dans la sous-région.

Children victims of armed conflicts: practices and struggle in Africa

The issue of children victims of armed conflicts has been at the center of the international community concerns, for more than three decades. Yet, the report shows that despite the resources gathered, the problem remains alarming. In Africa especially, the rising power of terrorist armed groups creates an overall atmosphere of insecurity for children who are enrolled as soldiers or are victims of many other abuses. Considering that, the means for a struggle defined by the African Union and the sub-regional institutes of Central and Western Africa – the most vulnerable parts of the continent – arouses thoughts.

Crédit photo: centre de réhabilitation d’enfants soldats en Centrafrique (source: DG ECHO / Gregoire Pourtier)

Nuclear agreement with Iran, a geopolitical revolution for the Middle-East and for the world

Faced with the rise of the dangers in the Middle East, and with the nuclear risk in this region, the international community understood that it was better to turn Iran into an ally rather than an enemy. The traditional US allies – Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries in the first place – are worried to see their Persian enemy potentially come back into. The signature on July 14th 2015 of the agreement on Iranian nuclear power, turns over a painful page of History in the relations between the West and the Middle East. The new relations which could take place between Iran and the rest of the world could be as important as was the hand extended by President Nixon to China in 1972. And today we know where this led China.

Crédit photo: Nojan Mansoory / Licence creative commons (Téhéran)