Whilst nodding vigorously to well-considered potential global risks such as Iran’s future, the potential for collapse in Afghanistan and Pakistan, European disintegration, further drugs-related disorder in Mexico and violent uprisings in North Africa, an emerging risk that has occupied our minds lately is the profound risk to security, livelihoods and stability in the Sahel, presented by a possible spread of Islamic terrorism from Mauritania in the West to the Horn of Africa in the East.
Osama bin Laden is dead but the seeds of dissent sown by Al-Qaeda and its franchises continue to foment violence globally. The great swathe of the Sahel region may appear neatly segmented by national boundaries on the map.
However, witness Mali, the desert topography and the ideological leanings of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, (AQIM) and many of the nomadic Tuareg population make for an extremist threat to security that could percolate through porous border from Mali into Niger and Mauritania.
Potentially coalescing with Boko Haram (People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad) in Nigeria whilst filling power vacuums created by weak governance and increased support in Chad and Sudan, it is possible to project further alliances and coordination with Al Shabaab in Somalia and Northern Kenya.