Rethinking Africa’s Stance on Counter-terrorism

In the Horn of Africa, the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel have formed coalitions against groups like al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province and the Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin. Military campaigns against some of these groups have dragged on for more than a decade, sustained by shrinking budgets largely bankrolled from outside the continent.

Researchers say the complex and sensitive option of dialogue should not be viewed as a one-off event. “It should also not be understood as a one-size-fits-all strategy for ending terror in Africa. Rather, dialogue should be more deeply explored as a complementary approach that goes beyond the short-sighted use of military might. There is the unfolding case of dialogue between the United States and the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is still being tested but remains a process which offers hope.”

Based on the evidence in reality and beyond textbook suggestions, there is really no “perfect” period for dialogue. Governments hardly ever initiate dialogue when terror groups are on the defensive. A good example is the case of Nigeria when the government announced in late 2015 that Boko Haram was “technically defeated”. Following this, nothing happened – and then there was a resurgence of violence that continues today

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