The ruling junta in Niger has ended a military partnership with the EU, pulling the plug on a mission that provided training and equipment for Nigerien security forces battling jihadists. Authorities have also repealed a 2015 law—adopted under EU pressure—that sought to curb migration to Europe. The diplomatic rupture is linked to the EU's refusal to engage with the junta, which toppled the bloc's close partner, Mohamed Bazoum, in July. Russian officials have visited Niamey in recent days, signing documents to strengthen military cooperation. Russian support for other Sahelian armies has led to massive rights abuses, yet the EU's track record is hardly glowing. The bloc spent large sums on the Nigerien security forces but lacked programs to prevent army abuses—an oversight that played into the hands of jihadists. Its migration policies, meanwhile, resulted in Niamey criminalizing the economy of the northern smuggling hub of Agadez, all while endangering migrant lives.
Burkina Faso's humanitarian and security challenges are worsening as the country's junta-led government pursues an aggressive military campaign against jihadist armed groups, which have extended their control to around 40% of the national territory. The country has faced jihadist attacks since 2015, but fatalities and humanitarian needs have hit record highs since army Captain Ibrahim Traoré seized power from a different junta last year, and then began a "total war" against the insurgents.
Iraq has taken in 192 families from Syria's al-Hol camp that houses persons accused of having links to the Islamic State (ISIS), an Iraqi member of parliament told the Kurdish Rudaw news agency on Nov. 12. A total of 780 individuals were returned to Iraq and will be placed in al-Jadaa Center for Community Rehabilitation in Nineveh province, acording to the report. The MP said the families will stay in al-Jadaa camp until they are given clearance from the Interior Ministry to return to their homes and issued identification documents.
Thirty-six years ago this week, Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary leader of Burkina Faso, was assassinated in a coup. Some feel his legacy is being carried forward by the head of the country's current junta, Ibrahim Traoré. Like Sankara, Traoré seized power in his early 30s and has espoused strong anti-imperialist views. He has cut ties with former colonial ruler France, snubbed offers of Western military aid, and nominated a Sankara supporter as prime minister. At a commemoration this week in Ouagadougou, authorities announced that the capital city's Boulevard Charles de Gaulle will be renamed Boulevard Thomas Sankara.
More than 50 were killed and dozens injured in a suicide attack in Pakistan's Balochistan province Sept. 29 as people gathered to celebrate the festival marking the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, Mawlid an-Nabi. Those targeted in the blast at the town of Mastung were overwhelmingly members of the Baluch ethnicity. The attack is believed to have been carried out by the local ISIS franchise, Islamic State-Khorasan. That same day, at least five were killed in a separate blast at a mosque in Hangu, outside Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. (BBC News, Al Jazeera, AP, NWorld, UAE)
Mali's military reportedly carried out air-strikes Aug. 29 against Tuareg militants in the desert north—an escalation that risks opening up another conflict front in the country, which is already embroiled in a long counterinsurgency war with jihadist rebels. The accusation was made by the Coordinating Body of Azawad Movements (CMA), a coalition of Tuareg rebel groups that signed a peace deal with the Malian government in 2015. The government claims to have struck jihadist positions in the Kidal region, but the CMA rebels charge that they were targeted. Two weeks earlier, the CMA also accused Malian forces and Russian Wagner Group mercenaries of attacking its followers in the Timbuktu region.
In his drive for "normalization" of his regime, Syran dictator Bashar Assad has been welcoming meetings with regional leaders in recent months. However, in comments to a reporter last week, he set a withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Syria as a precondition for any meeting with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Erdogan's objective in meeting me is to legitimize the Turkish occupation in Syria," Assad said. Turkey's Defense Minister Yasar Guler responded days later by saying: "It is unthinkable for us to withdraw without ensuring the security of our borders and our people."