Cape Times

Sahel needs political, not military solutions


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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