For a more comprehensive analysis, please see our reports ‘The Security Threat from the Sahel: Mali, Mauritania, and Niger‘ & ‘Investment Landscape in the Sahel.’
Mainstream news outlets have diligently covered the Canadian armed forces’ mission in Iraq (and Syria), reporting the sorties of CF-18 fighter jets on Islamic State (ISIS) positions. There are credible rumors that Canadian troops have also experienced action on the ground against ISIS militants. However, that same media has been less attentive about the fact that in the last days of February, Canadian Special Forces were active in southeastern Niger, on the border with Nigeria, where they have been training Nigerian forces to confront the Islamist group Boko Haram. The Nigerian Islamist militant group has been extending beyond its traditional operating theatre of Borno state in Nigeria to bordering territories in Niger, Cameroon, and possibly Mali – some of the largest countries of the Sahel. The region’s instability in the wake of the collapse of the Qadhafi regime in Libya has made it almost impossible to control borders, facilitating Boko Haram’s expansion beyond Nigeria and allowing militants to operate in the region with virtual impunity.