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Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Mali and Niger are meeting in Accra on Thursday and Friday to discuss their security and intelligence cooperation. Objective: to counter the spread of jihadist violence from the Sahel to the coasts of the Gulf of Guinea.
Seven West African states began a meeting on Thursday (November 17th) in Accra to increase their cooperation in the fight against the spread of jihadist violence from the Sahel to the coasts of the Gulf of Guinea.
This session of technical discussions on security and intelligence cooperation is scheduled to continue on Friday. The meeting aims to prepare for a ministerial meeting of the Accra Initiative countries to be held next week, at a date not yet made public.
Launched in 2017, this forum involves Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo. Mali and Niger joined as observers.
Collaboration is needed more than ever as the threat of violent extremism is “more widespread than previously thought and transcends borders”, Ghana’s National Security Minister Albert Kan-Dapaah said Thursday, noting that “the threat landscape keeps changing”.
Jihadist violence in the Sahel began in 2012 in Mali, killing thousands and displacing millions, but has spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger and now threatens Gulf of Guinea states.
Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo are thus facing the threat of fighters from the Islamic State (IS) group and Al-Qaeda, established in Niger and Burkina Faso, and who are now increasing their attacks. on their territory. And concern is growing about possible local recruitment within these countries.
Summit on November 22
The Accra talks are also expected to involve government officials from the EU, Britain, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Regional heads of state will discuss security proposals during a summit scheduled for Tuesday, November 22, according to the Accra Initiative.
The military junta in Mali since the two successive coups of 2020 and 2021 has gradually approached Moscow, and is suspected of working with the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, which Bamako denies. This has eroded ties with Western partners. France completed in the summer the withdrawal of its troops who had been operating in Mali for nearly ten years in an attempt to prevent the spread of jihadist violence.
The blue helmets have been present in the country since 2013 but the relations of the UN mission with the Malian authorities have deteriorated, leading to the announcement of the withdrawal of the Egyptian, Ivorian and British contingents.
British Defense Minister James Heappey said on Monday he would join the Accra meeting, as the UK, France and other countries consider options to “rebalance” their deployment in the Sahel and in coastal countries.