Author Archives: rmaghrebi

About rmaghrebi

I have worked extensively on development, security, economic, political, and social issues in the Sahel and North Africa, and coordinated projects supporting different government agencies and private entities including the Office of Transition Initiative (OTI), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Department of Defense (DOD). I hold a Master of Public Policy with National Security emphasis from the school of Public Policy, International Affairs, and Government at George Mason University. I am also fluent (native speaker) in Arabic and French. I provided analysis that cultivates a deeper understanding of regional issues in order to implement immediate and long-term programs regarding security, economic, and political challenges in the region. I have personally written over 200 reports for specific use by USG and private entities. My reports have included analysis on local governments, local security forces, violent extremist organizations (VEOs), criminal networks, economic conditions, peace building, and counter violent extremism. I have a deep understanding of the diverse populations and demographics in the region. About the Blog: I want people interested in Mali, and the Sahel in general to have the most accurate information available out there. That's why unlike many blogs, I provide details backed by open-source when available with in depth analysis. I don't just re-report the news, I provide context. I don't just provide numbers and data because is attractive, I provide the most accurate numbers with sources.

Niger: December 2018 Chronology of Violent Incidents Related to Al-Qaeda affiliates Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), Boko Haram, Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS)

By Rida Lyammouri,

January 16th, 2019

FULL PDF REPORT COULD BE FOUND HERE

Key points for December 2018:

  • Nigerien government announced on 07 December 2018 the extension of State of emergency in Diffa Region three more months.
  • Reportedly, on 10 December 2018 militants cell discovered 15km from Birni N’Konni at Jima-Jima village, Sokoto Region on the borders with Nigeria. Local prefect pointed out this was an attempt to establish a coordination site to exchange information between different militants’ cells.
  • On 07 December the government declared State of emergency in Gotheye and Tillabéri departments, Tillabéri Region.
  • On 29 December 2018 JNIM released statement claiming the attack against police station of Tera, Tillabéri Region carried on 30 November 2018.
  • On 21 December 2018 and under the initiative of Mr. Mahamadou Bakabé, Diffa Region Governor, a meeting on the security situation extended to the administrative, customary, military and religious authorities in the presence of representatives of youth, women, and the media. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the very worrying security situation and the upsurge of attacks recently in addition the phenomenon of people kidnapping by suspected Boko Haram militants.
  • Important recommendations were formulated to deal with the situation, with particular emphasis on monitoring and the ability of the population to be resilient to the shock.
  • In December hundreds of schools have closed or suspended their courses in Tillabéri Region following threats from ISGS militants. These schools are mostly located near Ayorou and Abala on the borders with Mali, and Torodi on the borders with Burkina Faso.
  • French and Nigerien forces conducted air-ground joint operations near Tongo Tongo, Tillabéri Region. According to French defense ministry statement at least 15 suspected ISGS members killed while arms and ammunition seized.
  • Notable increase in acts of intimidation, ethnic related violence, and armed banditry in Tahoua and Tillabéri Region during month of December 2018 forced number of families to seek refuge in Ménaka, Mali.
  • In December 2018 important number of shops ransacked in villages in Diffa Region near Lake of Chad during incursions by suspected members of Boko Haram.

Screen Shot 2019-01-17 at 8.57.36 AM.png

Burkina Faso: December 2018 SITREP and Chronology of Violent Incidents Related to Al-Qaeda affiliates Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) and Ansaroul Islam, and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS)

By Rida Lyammouri

January 7th, 2019

Since the summer of 2018 Est Region of Burkina Faso witnessed rapid spread of violence attributed to unidentified militant groups. While most of previous attacks were attributed to the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), recent claims by Jama’t Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimeen (JNIM) of attacks in the region confirm the presence of jihadist groups and the expansion of JNIM operations beyond northern regions on the borders with Mali. For instance, and for the first time, on 29 December 2018 JNIM released statement claiming 30 November 2018 complex attack. The attack carried against mining company escort near Bongou, between Pama and Fado. During same statement JNIM also claimed 22 December 2018 improvised explosive device (IED) attack near Kompienbiga on the road between Fada N’Gourma and Pama, Kompienga Province. Insecurity in Est Region also preventing locals from conducting their usual livelihood activities such as hunting and artisanal gold mining.

Violent attacks against security forces, institutions, and individuals with ties to central government continued in the month of December 2018 and most likely to continue in coming months. Acts of intimidation against civilian population witnessed during December as well and most likely to continue most notably in Sahel, Boucle du Mouhoun, Nord and Est Regions with strong possibility of expansion to other regions.

FULL PDF REPORT OF DECEMBER 2018 BURKINA FASO SITREP AND INCIDENT TRACKER

Screen Shot 2019-01-07 at 12.56.28 PM.png

Niger: November 2018 Chronology of Violent Incidents Related to Al-Qaeda affiliates Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), ISWAP, and Boko Haram

December 3rd, 2018

By Rida Lyammouri

  • Nigerien security forces conducted late October and early November operations along the Burkina Faso borders near Torodi, Say Province, Tillabéri Region. Minister of interior pointed out to deteriorated security conditions in the area.
  • On 30 November Nigerien government extended state of emergency to additional three communes of Tillabéri Region. These communes include Téra, Say, and Torodi. All communes located on the borders with Burkina Faso and especially close to Est Region where there is notable increase of suspected militants activities.
  • Diffa Region witnessed one major incident by suspected Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP). Additionally, at least 15 girls were taken while the outcome of more than 30 girls taken in the same area over a a year ago remains unknown.

FULL PDF REPORT COULD BE FOUND HERE

Screen Shot 2018-12-03 at 9.51.36 AM.png

 

Burkina Faso: November 2018 SITREP and Chronology of Violent Incidents Related to Al-Qaeda affiliates Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) and Ansaroul Islam, and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS)

By Rida Lyammouri

December 3rd, 2018

Burkina Faso: NOV 2018 SITREP 

  • November followed recent trend as acts of violence and intimidation by suspected militant groups Ansaroul Islam and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) continued, if not increased, in Est and Sahel Regions. However this is based on assumptions and modes of operations since no attacks exclusively claimed by both groups. In Fada N’Gourma, Est Region local population staged protests and expressed support and backings to security forces on 02 November. On 08-09 November General Oumarou Sadou visited Fada N’Gourma, Est Region capital and met with administrative authorities and security forces based in the area. He also visited brigades based in Foutouri, Pama, and Kompienga, towns previously been under militants threats.
  • Since September 18, 2018, a curfew prohibits the movement of motorcycles from 7 pm to 5 am in the Est Region. The circulation of other vehicles is subject to strict controls.
  • On 01 November, prison guards on strike raided Minister of Justice residence. The government decided on November 14 the dismissal of the ranks of 10 members of the Prison Security Guard unit behind the raid, and suspended the activities of their union office.
  • On 14 November teachers’ unions suspended classes across Loroum Province, Nord Region after physical beating and abuse of teachers at Toulfé two days earlier. On 19 November another school announced its closure following threats received from militant groups at Kodjena village, Gnagna Province, Est Region.
  • On 13 November at least 10 bodies recovered after landslide at Basnéré, Soum Province, Sahel Region. Similar tragedy occurred at Kabonga between Fada and Pama, Est Region three weeks earlier where 50 to 100 people gone missing. Security forces reportedly hesitated to assist in fear of militants attacks. Another landslide recorded on 08 November at the gold mining site of Bontioli, Sud-Ouest Region where at least 10 people died.
  • On 19 November Human Rights Watch (HRW) claimed to have been informed about the execution of 14 men detained at Gassel Liddji by Burkinabe Army in Soum Province, Sahel Region. Regional NGO Kisal also claimed that in the same week a total of 38 civilians have been allegedly executed in Soum Province and Burkinabe forces suspected to be behind it. On 22 November, NGO Kisal reported the execution of another 7 suspects arrested by security forces.
  • Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Burkina Faso launched on November 15 to November 22 a joint security operation called Koudanlgou II in the southern and western areas of Burkina Faso to crackdown transnational crimes, including terrorism, smuggling, and drugs trafficking. 150 suspects arrested while vehicles, arms, ammunition, drugs, and motorcycles seized.

Going forward: Violence and intimidation acts highly likely to continue against mining companies escorts and personnel, and civil servants in Est and Sahel Regions. Militant groups are aware of the importance of gold mining to the state and its international partners. Civil servants, notably teachers will become further reluctant to return to their posts in regions (Est and Sahel Regions) under constant threats by militant groups. Following recent success there is strong possibility to see expansion of similar acts to other regions of the country. In addition to Est and Sahel Regions, acts of intimidation against teachers observed by Sahel MeMo at least in Nord Region.

FULL PDF REPORT COULD BE FOUND HERE

Screen Shot 2018-12-03 at 9.33.13 AM.png

Burkina Faso: June – October 2018 Chronology of Violent Incidents Related to Al-Qaeda affiliates Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) and Ansaroul Islam, and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS)

By Rida Lyammouri

November 1st, 2018

FULL PDF REPORT: JUNE – OCTOBER 2018 VIOLENT INCIDENTS IN BURKINA FASO

PHOTO-2018-11-03-20-56-40.jpg

Key takeaways:

  • Militants activity in Burkina Faso have been on the rise for the past two years. Since June 2018 Sahel MeMo observed similar trend with an expansion from Northern parts bordering Mali and Niger, to the Est Region on the borders with Benin, Niger, and Togo. Militant groups have been trying to establish a base there since early 2016, explaining groups’ ability to carry complex deadly attacks, including the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
  • Violence in the eastern part of Burkina Faso by militant groups most likely to continue. In addition to targeting security forces and intimidation acts against civil servants, militants will look to continue to disrupt gold mining in the area. In fact, security forces in charge of protecting gold mines or escorting staff have been subject to attacks by militants at least in August 2018. If this to continue, livelihoods of local communities benefiting from gold mining could be at risk if security situation continues to deteriorate in the region.
  • These attacks are mostly attributed rather than claimed by militant groups known to operate in Burkina Faso. These militant groups include Ansaroul Islam, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimeen (JNIM), and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS). Out of the three only JNIM have been consistent releasing official claims of attacks. Thus analysts, observers, journalists, and Burkinabe authorities are contributing most of violent incidents based on the area where occurred and means used. Important to note that between June and October 2018 no incidents officially claimed by JNIM. This could be explained by difficulty of movement during rainy season (June – October) in the region.
  • October 3rd witnessed the first reported French airstrikes against militants after request of support from Burkinabe authorities. This was following a deadly attack against Inata gold mine gendarmerie post.

 

 

 

 

Mali: Quick notes about presidential elections from the first day.

By Rida Lyammouri

July 30th, 2018

State run TV station announced some satisfaction about conditions of the elections throughout most of the country. However also pointed out to different types of incidents that either disrupted the event or prevented people from voting at all. For instance, several offices were ransacked by unknown gunmen in Central Region and people were not able to vote. Absence of electoral agents prevented voting in 10 voting centers in Ségou and Timbuktu Regions. 61 offices never opened due to insecurity in Mopti and Timbuktu Regions. According to Malian authorities no vote took place in at least 644 elections offices due to different acts of violence. Furthermore announced that voting was disrupted in at least 3988 other offices. According to Morgane Le Cam, journalist who has been covering the elections, tweeted that 81 percent of closed voting offices due to insecurity were located in Mopti Region, 13.4 percent on Timbuktu Region, and 5.4 percent in Ségou Region. Refugees in Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Niger were reported to have been able to vote according to impressive live coverage by sahelien.com.

This was expected, at least for observers following the Malian and regional conflicts very closely. Security situation in Mopti Region have deteriorated not only due to militant groups like JNIM (Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimeen), but also to tensions between local communities. No major incidents related to militant groups took place the day of elections with the exception of intimidation acts and rocket attack in Aguelhoc, Kidal Region. Alleged members of militant group JNIM threatened and warned local population from voting in different location in Mopti Region. JNIM also claimed responsibility of launching rockets on MINUSMA base in Aguelhoc during elections day. In the statement (see the claim #83) JNIM stated that this is an indication that the fight will continue against the French and its collaborators until Shari’a wins, and these elections don’t mean anything.

29JUL18_Aguelhoc_83.jpg

JNIM statement claiming rockets attack on MINUSMA camp in Aguelhoc, Kidal Region on July 29th, 2018. 

At this stage it’s too early to predict who is going to win, however; there is strong possibility of second round. Soumaila Cissé is the strongest challenger to current president Ibrahim Boubakar Keita. Again, this is just a prediction based on early counts coming in, remains to be seen. Overall, today’s elections occurred in less violent conditions compared to 2016 municipal elections when several offices were burned and voting boxes destroyed. Also, no major incidents recorded in Ménaka and Kidal Regions where State has limited to no presence.

These are crucial moments for Mali and the Malian people, whatever the outcome of these elections is, the focus should be on what’s ahead. Any elections related violence will further delegitimize state credibility not only in the north and center of the country but also in the south. The government will also lose credibility among the opposition and armed groups signatories of the peace accord. As a result causing further instability throughout the country and delay in implementing the peace process. Something militant groups, like JNIM will exploit further to its narrative highlighted by Iyad Ag Ghali, that these elections are useless and only used to serve the usual beneficiaries and not the Malian people. This is an opportunity for Malian political elites to show willingness and leadership to move the country forward and delegitimize JNIM and other spoilers.

 

Mali – Iyad Ag Ghali: Summary of video recording released by JNIM leader two days before presidential elections

By Rida Lyammouri

July 28th, 2018

IMG_4472.PNG

Here is a translation, not full, of the key points highlighted by Iyad Ag Ghali, JNIM leader, in his 9mn51s video released on Friday, July 27th.

Key points:

  • Elections are usual business and only to serve usual suspects, nothing new.
  • France failed to defeat al-Mujahidin and allowed Malian Army to commit crimes and atrocities against innocent people.
  • Those Arab and Muslim nations supporting Sahel G5 are traitors.
  • Calling for different expertise and types of support from their supporters.

Video transcript: 

“I am certain many observers are expecting a huge speech to shed light and describe our position (JNIM) in regards the upcoming presidential elections and political situation in Mali. However, let me bring some disappointments to these anticipations about the most important event (elections) to those benefiting from it, our position was already addressed by our Cadi (Judge) recently. I will only say that these elections are just a distraction and waste of time full of unrealistic promises as we are accustomed to for decades. Promises that don’t fall on the same line with Shari’a.”

“However I would like to ask the great people of this country and warn them, and advise them, that faith is the right path. Past and current colonizer, France, did not achieve its motivating objective to invade our country. Repeated operations did not bring the success planned, which is defeating al-Mujahidin, however [and thank to God] number of Mujahidin have doubled, gained more support, and even expanded. This failure of the French have pushed them to unleash the criminal Malian Army to commit atrocities and abuses, for instance those committed in ke-Macina and Boulkessi, in Ségou and Mopti Regions respectively, and in other places. Innocent men, women, and children were victims of these atrocities, and these crimes in God’s willing will not go unpunished. The situation did not stop here and even further ignited tensions and violence between different nations, clans, and tribes, and some even fall into the trap of dark-age wars. I am calling my people of Mali and Azawad to be cautious of falling in enemy’s trap and to be disrupted from fighting against the crusaders and their collaborators whom are responsible for Muslim’s blood. Killing fellow Muslims purposely will send them straight to hell.”

“I am also seizing this opportunity to renew my call to different militias and groups abandoned their religion to return to their senses. They abandoned their people and sold themselves cheap and aligned with crusaders in the fight against al-Mujahidin. We ask them to return to the right path and God will pardon them. About our message to the Muslim nation, is to remind them of their responsibility toward al-Mujahidin in Mali. The war against Islam is a global war and the international community still trying to destroy the Islamic project here by forming Sahel G5. Several Arab and Muslim traitor nations engaged in providing financial and other supports to Sahel G5. Our beloved Muslim nation, our Mujahidin still count on your support at different levels and expertise and knowledge. I am reaching out to my brothers’-and-sons’ al-Mujahidin and their supporters to remain strong in their path toward establishing our Islamic pride. And to our prisoners in the hands of our enemies I advise you to stay strong and spend your time on what’s beneficial to you, and pray for your brothers and your Islamic nation. We will do anything and won’t stop trying until we set you free.”

“Before I forget I would like to send in the name of JNIM our thoughts to the resilient people of Gaza and al-Quds. You are carrying the task of the fight against different traitors, we will pray for your victory and ask you to remain resilient. We are fighting in Mali but our eyes are on your fight and following it closely.”