Sa­hel needs po­lit­i­cal, not mil­i­tary so­lu­tions

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - MEL FRYKBERG

LIBYA re­mains the main source of desta­bil­i­sa­tion of the Sa­hel coun­tries and seems to have a pres­ence across the re­gion, ac­cord­ing to a re­port Tubu Trou­ble: State and State­less­ness in the Chad-Su­danLibya Tri­an­gle.

The re­port co-pub­lished by the Small Arms Sur­vey think-tank says that a mil­i­tary so­lu­tion would not solve the re­gion’s prob­lems.

The par­ties fight­ing each other in Libya needed to agree to make peace and a strong Libyan state needed to be re-es­tab­lished with ef­fec­tive con­trol of its south­ern bor­ders.

But the bor­der states must also sat­isfy the needs of their mi­nori­ties liv­ing in this bor­der re­gion to cre­ate long term sta­bil­ity, the re­port con­cluded. Libya’s in­sta­bil­ity, and the con­tin­u­ing violence in Dar­fur, Su­dan, were chief among the many fac­tors caus­ing the in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion and grow­ing au­ton­omy of armed fac­tions in the re­gion, ac­cord­ing to the Libya Her­ald.

The new re­port noted that il­licit weapons flow­ing from looted Libyan ar­se­nals that had pre­vi­ously tran­sited through north­ern Chad seemed to have dried up, but flow of in­di­vid­ual weapons per­sisted and sup­plied the lo­cal mar­ket in north­ern Chad.

De­mand re­mained rel­a­tively high and had in­creased in re­ac­tion to the Tibesti gold rush.

Easy ac­cess to Libyan weapons had fur­ther con­trib­uted to the mil­i­tari­sa­tion of Cha­dian Teda (Tebu) so­ci­ety.

Be­tween 2011 and 2013, a se­ries of gold dis­cov­er­ies in the Sa­hel and Sa­hara led to gold rushes in North Dar­fur and in Teda ter­ri­tory in Chad, Libya, and Niger.

New towns of sev­eral thou­sand in­hab­i­tants ap­peared in the mid­dle of the desert on both sides of the bor­der. Tankers de­liv­ered wa­ter sup­plies from Libya, while food, gen­er­a­tors, metal de­tec­tors, mer­cury, and other min­ing equip­ment came mainly from Libya and Su­dan.

Ac­cess to gold mines in Libya was con­trolled by Libyan Teda mili­tias, who oc­ca­sion­ally levied taxes on both gold min­ers and traders.

Since govern­ment forces have long been seen as en­e­mies by lo­cal pop­u­la­tions in the re­gion and given the lo­gis­ti­cal prob­lems of polic­ing such a large area, ef­forts to im­pose state con­trol by mil­i­tary means would be an er­ror of judge­ment, the re­port said.

Sim­i­larly, the Libyan cri­sis and the is­sue of a ji­hadist pres­ence in the Sa­hara would not be re­solved by a mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion in south­ern Libya or by plac­ing West­ern sol­diers along por­ous and vir­tu­ally non-ex­is­tent bor­ders.

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