Religious diversity and tolerating
religions is an ideology most western countries thrive for. But long before
even the colonization of the West had begun in Africa, merchants from Maghreb
(North-West Africa) brought the Islam to West Africa. West Africa is the westernmost
region of Africa and the home of 18 countries and more than 360 Million
West Africa is the home of the most
concentrated area of Muslim believers in the continent. The Islam has had to
face several problems implemented by Western Powers then. Only one of them is imposing
Catholicism, enhancing the potential for conflicts in this region. In the
mid-20th century Western Powers divided West Africa into nation
states, which had nothing but the geographical proximity in common. Old ethnic
groups still consider themselves as own nations.
These prevailing circumstances
facilitated the spreading of jihadistic Ideologies in the region of West
Africa. Furthermore, key terroristic organizations like Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda
in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have contributed to the instability in the region
and have made it challenging for West African countries to develop not only in
democracy but also economic wise. Countries in this region have felt the threat
these terroristic groups spread and have formed alliances. For example: Mali,
Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger, who have created the G-5 Sahel
anti-terroristic force combating terrorism in the Sahel region in 2014. But not only militant treaties where
introduced. In 1975 The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was
introduced. It is a 15-member regional group promoting economic integration in
all fields of activity of the constituting countries. Their goal is to strive
for economic independence as well as solving cultural and social matters. These
aspects are all basic requirements countries need to possess in order to fight
terrorism and stabilize the region of West Africa.
Definition of Key Terms
West Africa is the westernmost
region in Africa. It contains 18 countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, the islands of
Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali,
Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, the islands of Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone,
São Tomé and Príncipe and Togo. The Population of the region is estimated to
over 360 million people.
Region of Maghreb
Maghreb is the Arabic name for the
North-Western part of Africa containing African countries like Algeria, Libya,
Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia. It is home to several religions including the
Islam, Christianity, Judaism and the traditional Berber religion.
Based on Western Powers during the
time of colonialization Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, and
Spain were the main countries involved competing for power within European
power politics. One way for these nations to demonstrate national power was
through the acquisition of territories around the world, also including the
West of Africa
“Ethnic group, a social group or
category of the population that, in a larger society, is set apart and bound
together by common ties of race, language, nationality, or culture.” 1
Boko Haram is an ISIS-arranged
jihadist group, which is mainly active in the north-eastern part of Nigeria, but
is also in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. The
group promotes a Salafist-jihadist imprint of the Islam and wants to establish
a caliphate, or rather an Islamic state, in Nigeria. The group is famous for carrying
out large-scale attacks inside Nigeria. Only one of them being the attack on the
U.N. headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria in 2011. Boko Haram was founded in 2002 in
Maiduguri, Nigeria with no pursue of violence. The group has been approved as a
terrorist organization by the United Nations, the United States of America and
the European Union.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
(AQIM) is a jihadist terrorist group, which is based in North Africa. As an official
al-Qaeda branch, the group’s goal is to dismantle regional governments and implement
sharia law in these. AQIM operates, mainly in Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Libya,
Tunisia, and Niger. The group finds its roots in the Armed Islamic Group (GIA).
This is an Islamist movement, which was founded in Algeria in the early 1990s.
G-5 Sahel force
The G-5 Sahel Force is an institutional
framework strengthening the regional cooperation and development and mainly wants
to tackle security matters for Central and West Africa. There goal is to strengthen
the bond between economic development and security in order to fight jihadistic
organizations in the region, like AQIM und Boko Haram. Member states are Burkina
Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
The Economic Community of West
African States (ECOWAS) is a regional organisation and trade union in West Africa.
Its purpose is to elevate the economic integration of all member states. They
want to create a borderless region, in which the population can access all existing
resources and exploit them is a feasible environment. Member countries are
Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’ Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea,
Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo. The
ECOWAS is one of the pillars of the African Economic Community (AEC).