[…] Criticism of the counterterrorism strategy driving these wars is not new. We have long been among the critics arguing that counterterrorism strategies have worsened violent extremism (see commentaries from 2009 and 2020). What is new in 2021, at least for the Sahel, is that the consensus view in elite Western policy circles is turning toward sharp criticism of current policy. Recent publications from Chatham House in London, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, and the International Crisis Group in Brussels reflect the shift.
All three reports agree that Western counterterrorism policy in the Sahel has failed, being both over-militarized and ineffective. All suggest, in slightly varying language, that policy must be “rebalanced” or “rethought” to emphasize diplomacy and good governance. This includes “talking with terrorists.” And while the emphasis on governance, along with military action, has long been part of the rhetoric of the international community and of powers engaged in the region, the new tone is clearly different. […]
The Chatham House report states that in the Sahel today, “Success depends first and foremost on the willingness (much more than on the capacity) of corrupt leaders to reform and renew their social contract with citizens, especially in rural areas. International efforts will fail as long as impunity prevails and local armies can kill civilians and topple governments without consequence.” Läs artikel