The Sahelian states of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso continue to face unprecedented violence arising from multidimensional conflicts. According to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (2019), “the Sahel has experienced the most rapid increase in activity by militant groups of any region in Africa in recent years. Violent events involving extremist groups in the region have doubled every year since 2015”. In addition to the presence of multiple violent extremist organizations (VEOs) affiliated to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, all three countries are seeing increased ethnic-based violence. This alarming situation has occurred despite increased security measures implemented by international and national actors.
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There has been a flurry of activity in the Horn of Africa recently, where decades-old political disputes have suddenly been put to rest. The resulting changes have shattered the status quo in the region, putting the Horn on a new path where state-to-state relations are no longer marked by regional competition and frozen borders. While this has undoubtedly been a positive development for the region, one big piece of the puzzle has been the role of external actors in the process, and the degree to which the developments are organic or externally imposed.