Targeting soldiers in Mali, jihadists raise the bar


Targeting soldiers in Mali, jihadists raise the bar


By John Eche


With jihadists evidently targeting soldiers in Mali, concern is rising over the deteriorating political and security situation in the Sahelian nation even as analysts are suggesting that the bigger picture may even involve a broader all-out scramble for territory  across West Africa.


Since August 18 when the military took over power in the country, no less than 22 soldiers have been killed in what looks like deliberately targeted attacks at the nation’s security forces.


The jihadists who have been launching attacks in the country as well as in neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso, have seemingly taken advantage of the months of political tension and crisis leading to the coup and increased the frequency of their attacks on the security forces.


Underscoring the fact of jihadist activity in West Africa is the fact that no less than seven of the sub-region’s 15 states are countering different degrees of insurgent activity from jihadist groups of different hues and shapes. They include Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.


Meanwhile, talks continue in the Sahelian country about forming a transitional government to fully replace the ousted adminstration of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita but there are no indications as to whether the military and politicians would be able to agree on the civilian-driven leadership structure demanded by the regional body, the Economic Community of West African States by the time the ECOWAS deadline lapses next week.


Commenting on what the regional body may do in the event that the Malian military is unable to meet the deadline, Dr. Joshua Bolarinwa of the Nigerian Institute for International Affairs said:


‘Actually, it’s open and straightforward. The immediate option is suspension, putting pressure on the military govt, economic sanctions, and combining the disruption of international collaboration with sanctions. For example, AU has also suspended Mali, UN may also follow suit. The major powers may also be pressured into putting pressure on any illegal government in Mali. France for example may stop giving them aid, Britain can also block all of their aid coming to Mali. All these measures will coerce Mali into reverting to status quo ante, democratic rule. And then there is also the last option,  the military option.’


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