Scramble for the Sahel – why France, Russia, China and the United States are interested in the region

Created in 2014, the G5 Sahel security alliance is about to be dissolved after members pulled out. The Sahel, a region 3,860km wide located south of the Sahara Desert and stretching east-west across the African continent, has been a focus of attention around the world recently. In the last decade, issues such as terrorism , insecurity and trafficking have characterised the region. Military takeovers have been a major source of concern in the region and beyond in the last few years. Since 2020, the region has had four successful coup d’états and three failed ones. The coup in Niger particularly attracted attention. This is because Niger was seen as a “ darling of the west ” and a model for democratic governance in the region. Despite the challenges facing the region, the scramble for the Sahel remains intense. The main actors in this scramble are the European Union , France, Russia, China and the United States. The EU relies on Sahelian countries, especially Niger, to stop mass illegal immigration into the bloc. Niger is a major transit country in the region. Niger had security and defence partnerships with the EU until recently when the country unilaterally cancelled the deals . This is a source of concern to the EU. Why are these foreign powers interested in the Sahel? As a scholar in international relations and having researched the region for over a decade, I see the main reasons as follows: availability of natural resources strategic location of the region in Africa economic interests of the countries involved in the scramble defence and security cooperation in the form of arms sales. Foreign powers all have their reasons to be involved in the scramble for the Sahel. France Most of the countries in the Sahel region were colonised by France. Unlike […]

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By Donato