Lake Chad Basin: Emerging regional architecture for counterterrorism and counterinsurgency

Usman A. Tar and Bashir Bala


With the breeding level of conflicts in Africa, the continent has experienced two waves of regionalisation — particularly regional and sub-regional securitisation. The first is attributed to colonisation, de-colonisation, and Pan-Africanism, while the second is associated with the loosened shackles of the Cold War in the late 1980s (Franke, 2007: 32). In spite of the political and ideological orientations of the regionalisation, the second wave dealing with the devastating consequences ot the end of Cold War has resulted in a milestone change in Africa’s cooperation and integration especially with regards to security. The collapse and withdrawal of the Soviet Union and its successor, Russia, and the instant non-interventionist disposition in Africa’s conflicts by the US and France caused for the resort to internal-sourcing of mechanisms; for security and peace. In this regard, African began to develop regional international relations as a panacea to what Ochiai (2006: 2) referred to “changes in the international scene”.

In Africa’s Lake Chad Basin, the last four decades were characterised by many violent conflicts. They include warlordism, clashes ot civil militias, guerrilla wars, insurgencies, and insurrectional movements emanating largely from the Chadian civil war of the 1980s, in addition to armed rebellion and the factional militias in both Niger and the Central African Republic that had attempted to, and in some cases succeeded in taking over the ungoverned spaces created by “lack of political legitimacy, leadership squabbles, and political fragmentation that bedevilled states across the region” (Tar and Bala, 2018a: 162). However, the evolving nature of the dreaded Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram in the region has hugely changed the trend and dynamics of stability with huge implications on the security and development of the region. In spite of the concomitant attempts to crack down on the activities of violent groups in the region, there are still widening networks of operational relationships among insurgent groups in the LCB that involve the exchange of wide-range of items detrimental to subregional peace and security.

The compelling need to curb the terrorism and insurgency coupled with operational imperatives for collective security cooperation necessitated the need for urgent intervention in the region. This saw to the creation and re-mandating ot several platforms with the operational mandate ot representing the regional security architecture in the Lake Chad Basin. Overall, such outfits are meant to create the institutionalisation of regional security mechanisms technically essential tor dealing with the menace ot threats to the region. Against this backdrop, this chapter seeks to carefully engage the trends, dynamics, grouping system and institutional actors defining and reshaping the emergent regional security architecture in the region. To achieve this, a topographical analysis of the region can aid in the grasp of the broad description of the terrain.

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