The ISGS is reinforcing its power across the Sahel region, killing civilians and recruiting more forces. The group was thought to be vanishing after losing main commanders last year.
The Sahel has lately seen the expansion of groups with affiliations with ISIS terrorists. They have marked their arrival with an unexpected wave of violence against unarmed people in the region. Previously, it was believed that the militants’ strength was fading in the Sahel.
After the death of numerous commanders, the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) seemed to be decaying late last year. Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the ISGS architect, was one of the main losses of the group.
The French Barkhane troops killed Al-Sahrawi in Mali 10 months ago. To confront militant forces throughout the Sahel, Barkhane Force has unannounced number of soldiers, exceeding thousands, on the ground. It comprised troops from Mauritania Chad, Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso among other nations.
In the vast and distant “three borders” region where Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso intersect, France identified ISGS as the priority threat early in 2020. The Sahel is a barren region that borders the Sahara Desert in southern lines.
French President said that ISGS had lost its hold in last year. Macron cited reports that, at least in Mali, those operating under al-Qaeda name, an opposing force, had seized the advantage.
Nevertheless, according to a scholar at the “Forum for Responsible Citizenship”, ISGS is way away from annihilation. Oumaroum says “at a time when we thought we had got rid of the ‘terrorists’, they were reorganizing.”
Key ISGS officials were removed by France and its partners, although middle officers were still in charge. According to French scholars in the area, they assumed the job of rebuilding and recruiting the group after last year’s losses.
ISGS in Sahel
ISGS is currently spreading from Gourma in Mali to the Mali-Niger frontier, according to a Malian authority. According to the anonymous source, the extension covers the northern Burkinabe region of Oudalan.
ISGS appears to have operated in a region that is thousands of miles wide just in this current June.
In Anderamboukane, close to Mali-Niger borderline, the militia has engaged in combat with Malian military and paramilitary government supporters. In northern Burkina Faso, it is said to have killed over 85 civilians. Although the assault in the Burkinabe village carried the organization’s fingerprints, it was not claimed by the ISCG.
In Tessit, in the Gao area of Mali, ISGS members engaged in combat with al-Qaeda militants during the past weeks. Local reports confirmed that the clashes occurred some 230 miles away from Anderamboukane in the west.
The number of victims in attacks blamed on militant groups in Sahel has increased by two times in two years. “Never in Sahel has there been such a succession of massacres of civilians,” an anonymous UN official told reporters.
Since last year, the geopolitical environment has altered dramatically. France and its partners are no more in the frontline of the conflict in Mali.
French soldiers are in the midst of reorganizing their mission in Sahel and departing their final camp in Mali. They had gathered precious data and offered crucial air assistance there.
The military regime in Mali and its refusal to announce an exact timeframe for reinstating civilian control strained ties between Mali and France. Additionally, Mali brought in “military instructors” who, according to France and its partners, were contractors from Wagner group.
The group is an organization with affiliations to Russia. France’s political preferences and a rivalry with Russia guided the developments in recent months across the Sahel.