A Logic of its Own: the external presence in the Sahel
Summary, in English
The political underperformance, socio-economic grievances, widespread poverty and expansion of terrorist networks in the Sahel region are commonly framed as security risks to both the region itself and to Europe. The heavy international security presence in the region, including a UN peacekeeping mission with a robust mandate, a US Africa Command drone base, three EU missions, a large French-led counter-terrorist operation, and the creation of a new Special Forces Joint Task Force, support this interpretation. This paper critically reflects on how security threats are framed and looks at how the region has become a scene for the EU to strengthen its identity as a security actor and for its member states to both show commitment to multilateralism by contributing troops to EU and UN missions and to be loyal partners to larger allies such as France and the US. While this is not incompatible with the desire to increase the stability in the region, the fact that the international presence has taken on a logic of its own may render external actors less attentive to how they affect, and are affected by, local power dynamics.