EU’s moral dilemma in the Sahel,

Amanda Coakley

[…] The conflict, which has taken Burkina Faso from one of the most stable countries in West Africa to one of the most dangerous, poses a dilemma to European policymakers intent on stabilizing an increasingly volatile region that is key to its geopolitical goals — chief among them containing the spread of terrorism and curtailing migration to Europe.

Analysts have warned that the European Union’s Sahel strategy prioritized counterterrorism and military solutions to the conflict, rather than seeking to solve issues of governance that would bring more lasting stability to the region.

Now, even as Brussels revises its Sahel strategy in light of the tenacity of the ongoing conflict, it faces an added complication. According to local officials and analysts, the central government has started to engage in talks with the armed Islamist groups. And it appears to be working: There has been a noticeable drop in attacks from Islamic militants and fewer unlawful killings by state security forces and militia.

The move puts the EU in a bind, as it has previously opposed opening talks with terrorist-affiliated groups.

“The question of negotiations with terrorists is a delicate one,” Ángel Losada Fernández, the EU’s special representative for the Sahel, said in a recent interview with POLITICO. “It’s an important question, but it’s very difficult to say who are the ones who are really the terrorists with blood on their hands.”  Läs artikel