August 3, 2017
#StateOfTheNation: Ivory Coast
August 7, 2017

#SecurityWatch: Burkina Faso

Combating Terrorism in Burkina Faso

Terrorism has always been an enormous security threat in the world, from suicide bombers to terrorists who kidnap people for their own benefit, this phenomenon has been on the rise in recent years. On the African continent, in particular areas, it has been a mammoth task to reduce extremism. In Burkina Faso and the Sahel region, this rise of extremism has been unprecedented since the Malian crisis in 2012.

Terrorism and violent extremism is a recent threat in Burkina Faso and the incline in Burkina Faso is due to a few reasons. The principal reason being the rise of terrorist acts in northern Mali, a neighbour Burkina Faso, which has severely affected the security of the nation. A few instances of such in 2015 include the abduction of a Romanian company work by terrorist, and the terrorist attack on security outpost in the city of Oursi. In 2016 a restaurant and hotel in Ouagadougou were under attacked and later in the year another security outpost in northern Burkina Faso was attacked. The majority of the terror groups have ties with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Secondly, the manifestation of terrorism is the emergence of fundamentalist Islamic hot spots and the promoting of extremists’ views in certain regions of Burkina Faso. This radicalisation stems from urban mosques and rural areas. The ease at which people, in countless areas of Burkina Faso can be indoctrinated, in schools, small villages, the unemployed, makes Burkina Faso a prime target for terrorists. Many Burkinabe identify themselves through religion, with the population of the African nation being 60.5% Muslim, this threat should not to be taken lightly.


Counter terrorism instruments

Fortunately, Burkina Faso does have a multitude of counter terrorism instruments at their disposal.  Firm security stances have had to be implemented due to the serious nature of the threats that face the country.

Burkina Faso have strong multilateral relations, they are part of the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). This permits Burkina Faso Armed Forces to form part of the ECOWAS Standby Force and have good military relations with its neighbours. This is demonstrated through the creation of the G-5 Sahel Group, which is a political alignment of countries that consists of Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Chad and Niger. The consolidation of this multilaterals has allowed for an increase information sharing and joint intelligence operations.

The Burkinabe military and security forces have come a long way, with participating in African-led International Support Mission in Mali. Their chief mission in stopping terrorists, insurgent groups and their dispersal. Apart from that, Burkina Faso is the leading contributor of troops to Mali having deployed 1 742 troops; including the forming of a counter terrorism task force that assisted in preventing the offensive action in Mali and maintain a large number of refugees. Moreover, at government level, legislative and judiciary laws have been amended to reflect the mounting threat in the country.

Though Burkina Faso has made lasting strides in combating terrorism and violent extremism, much more still needs to be done to ensure that the country doesn’t become a hub for terrorist. The country’s reach with regards to stopping terrorism needs to be strategic and firm. Continuously education the people of Burkina Faso and ensuring their safety is a must.