Burkina Faso, The United States & Ansarul Islam
Any move by the United States to assist Burkina Faso will not only impact Burkina Faso but also Ghana and even Niger. - by Scott Morgan
It is clear that the re-establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the State of Israel and Chad has proven to be a catalyst to encourage Western Powers to take the situation in the Sahel more seriously than they have.
Already the month of February has been an interesting month for Burkina Faso. After years of seeing its neighbours taking actions to support the restoration of democracy in Mali while using Niger as a base of operations they are finally getting noticed. On the first of the month it was announced that a State Partnership agreement was signed between the country and the National Guard for the District of Columbia.
On February 25th CNN reported that the US is planning on the possibility of sending both advisers and UAVs to the country. The timing of the report is interesting. Currently Flintlock 2019 is underway in the region and Burkina is one of the countries which is both a participant and a host. Mauritania is other country that has that unique status.
So why has the United States decided to assist Burkina Faso at this time? Especially after the comments made by the National Security Adviser that the US would be reducing its footprint in Africa by 10% to address more serious challenges offered by Russia, China and Iran?
The issue could be Ansarul Islam. Between December 2018 and January 2019 the group launched a series of attacks across the country killing dozens of people. What is a concern to the US is that the group may have had a role in the Ambush of 4 US Green Berets in Niger in 2017. Another concern is that the group has expanded its campaign to the Southern Border with Ghana.
It should be noted that in 2018 the United States also signed a deal that expanded Military Cooperation between the two countries. Any move by the United States to assist Burkina Faso will not only impact Burkina Faso but also Ghana and even Niger. The US has provided logistical support to Operation Barkhane which is the French led effort in the region to deter the efforts JNIM ( Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin)which is the umbrella group that has launched attacks not only in Burkina and Niger but also has operated in Algeria, Chad, Mauritania and even Libya as well.
Clearly analysts in Washington see that JNIM is in their view expanding their area of operations and they feel that actions designed to support Burkina Faso are in order. Are these events going to be able to prevent a collapse of the State like what took place in Mali has yet to be seen.