Tuareg rebel leader Ibrahim Ag Bahanga died in a car accident in the region of Kidal, Northern Mali, on August 26, 2011.
Bahanga received military training in Libyan camps that were open to the Tuaregs of the Sahel in the 80s, and took up arms in the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Azawad.
Despite the Algiers peace agreement signed in July 2006 between Bamako and the rebels of the Alliance of May 23 – which he opposed -, Ibrahim Ag Bahanga never totally laid down his arms. Actually, he led a dissent and abducted many Malian soldiers.
His operations received very wide coverage and were sometimes lucrative. They also attracted many potential terrorists and jobless youth in the Sahel, and led to more kidnappings, trafficking of all kinds, murders and retributions.
Bahanga was recently suspected of having acquired weapons from Libya, and having signed partnership agreements with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb as part of large-scale arms trading.
Bahanga’s death gives rise to many questions about the future of the Sahel. In fact, some experts believe that this region is turning into a new Afghanistan, and a “gray zone” that is not subject to the control of any state, thus fostering terrorism, drug trafficking, the risk of hunger and demographic explosion.
According to General Carter Ham, head of the U.S. Africa command (AFRICOM), "the presence of terrorists in the Sahel and Sahara, and their involvement in arms trafficking to fund attacks in the region, pose a significant threat to the security of Africa and Europe…
Africa is emerging as a promising hub, whose roads are already marked out by arms and drug trafficking, illegal immigrants, and regional mafia groups."
Is the death of this rebel leader an opportunity for peace?
We believe that:
- Terrorism is a complex phenomenon that goes beyond individuals.
- The anti-terrorism fight cannot be solely military.
- Security is a political issue that requires expressing and forming a political community.
- Security is not limited to the public order; it also refers to an entire political agreement and to the will of the people to build a common project together.
- This pact includes sustainable development activities that can save the Sahel and Maghreb populations from misery and frustration.
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