2022, A YEAR OF HIGH-RISK FOR PEACE IN AFRICA
2022, A YEAR OF HIGH-RISK FOR PEACE IN AFRICA
To the persistence of existing crises (Sahel, eastern DRC, Horn of Africa, Lake Chad Basin), new conflicts could be added in 2022 (Algeria/Morocco, Ethiopia and its neighbors) which would weaken peace. and stability in Africa.
This is undoubtedly a bad omen: the year 2022 begins in Africa with an unprecedented showdown between the Malian military junta and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). By deciding on the heaviest sanctions (closure of land and air borders, freezing of assets at the Central Bank) at its extraordinary summit last Sunday in Accra, ECOWAS thought it had found a way to relent the Malian military putschists who want stay 4 more years in power. Obviously the calculation is missed, Assimi Gôita and his comrades having chosen to respond to ECOWAS from shepherd to shepherdess.
The aggravation of the sources of tension
In the Sahel, the showdown between the Malian junta and ECOWAS has ruled out any prospect of improving the regional situation. The year 2021 had already been the worst for the Sahel with thousands of military and civilian victims. Never, since the start of the crisis in 2012, have the Sahelian countries recorded so many civilian victims, particularly in the area known as the three borders common to Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Never as much as in 2021, Burkina Faso, for example, has seemed so struggling in its counter-terrorism response. Unfortunately, to date, nothing indicates that the situation will be better in 2022. Everything suggests that it could even continue to deteriorate throughout the next 12 months. In addition to the persistence of terrorist attacks,
At the end of 2021, a new terrorist attack claimed the lives of two Beninese soldiers while Togo, for its part, last November repelled an action by jihadist groups carried out on its soil from its common border with the Burkina Faso.
In the Horn of Africa too, the year 2022 should not bring the slightest respite. In addition to the persistent terrorist operations of the Somali group Al-Shababs, there has been a political conflict between Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble.
The prospects on the threshold of this new year do not seem much more promising in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where MINUSCO and the Congolese State seem powerless in the face of the deadly attacks by the rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) against civilian populations. Despite an attempt to regain control of the situation through a military operation launched at the end of November 2021 by the Ugandan and Congolese armies, the descent into hell was to continue for the populations of eastern DRC.
As much as the persistence or even the aggravation of existing crises, the risks of new conflicts on the continent worry most observers of political and security issues in Africa. In the Maghreb, tensions between Algeria and Morocco, which had culminated with the closure of Algerian airspace to Moroccan planes and the breakdown of diplomatic relations, raise fears of a swing towards military escalation. A sign that this prospect can no longer be ruled out, Morocco recently acquired an anti-aircraft defense system from China to respond to that purchased from Russia by Algeria.
Already in 2021, we came close to armed confrontation when Algeria accused Morocco of having killed two Algerian drivers with a drone shot and promised “an appropriate response”.
Another hotbed of diplomatic tensions threatens to degenerate in this year 2022: the standoff between Ethiopia and its neighbors (Egypt, Sudan) around the filling of the “dam of the renaissance” with the waters of the Nile. All negotiations to find a negotiated solution to the disagreement between Ethiopia and its neighbors have so far failed as Ethiopia plans to proceed with the second phase of filling its dam this year. No one can predict the reaction of Egypt, which has always ensured that it reserves the right to use all means, including military, to assert its rights over the waters of the Nile.
Two uncertain transitions
This worrying picture for peace and stability in Africa in 2022 cannot be complete without taking into account the uncertain political transitions in Mali and Guinea. After having carried out a coup d’etat in May 2021, by dismissing the civil authorities of the transition, Colonel Assimi Göita wishes to remain in power for 4 more years. What refuses a good part of the Malian political class, ECOWAS and Mali’s external partners. Added to this, to complicate the Malian context, is the diplomatic quarrel between Mali and France over the presence or not on Malian soil of the private Russian security company Wagner. At the start of 2022, any forecast on the evolution of the transition in Mali would be risky.
In Guinea, neighboring Mali, the transition is just as uncertain. More than 4 months after their arrival at the head of the country, the Guinean military putschists have still not unveiled a transition timetable. Time passes and their leader Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya gradually takes a liking to power, arousing the concern of political parties, ECOWAS and Mali’s partners. As in Mali, Colonel Doumbouya and his comrades are hiding behind “the popular will” to justify the absence of any timetable for the transition.
Added to this uncertainty about the timing of the transitional period is the governance at sight marked in recent weeks by measures taken on a whim: christening of Conakry airport with the name of Sékou Touré, authorization to leave the territory granted to former President Alpha Condé, dismissal of Justice Minister Kandia Camara.
Taken together, the persistence of old crises, the risks of the outbreak of new conflicts and uncertain political transitions announce a difficult year 2022 in Africa.