TV5MONDE: Three soldiers were killed when a tunnel planted by jihadists exploded in northern Penin on Thursday. Why is Benin being targeted by jihadists?
Francis Kapadinde, Professor of Science-Po Paris: First, Benin shares borders with three countries threatened by terrorism: Burkina Faso in the northwest, Niger in the north and Nigeria in the northeast. So the first problem is the border sharing with these three countries, which have been weakened by terrorism for years.
The second problem is the lack of law enforcement on the part of Burkina Faso. General forces have left the Burkina Faso border area. Jihadists are widespread in Burkina Faso and sometimes come to Benin to get supplies. There is a park that separates the two countries: Pentjari Park in Penin and Early Park in Burkina Faso. They come on motorcycles in search of fuel and food. We have been following in their footsteps for some time.
Mines and attacks are recent events, but jihadi movements in northern Benin and especially in the northwest have been going on for years. Francis Capadinte, Professor of Science-Po Paris
In 2019, we must not forget that two Frenchmen were abducted [Laurent Lassimouillas et Patrick Picque] Pendjari Park and their guide [Fiacre Gbédji] To kill. Later, French forces intervened to save them in Burkina Faso.
Mines and attacks are recent events, but jihadi movements in northern Benin and especially in the northwest have been going on for years.
- May 2019: Two French tourists are abducted and their guide killed in Pentjari Park in northern Peninsula.
- February 2020: Attack on police station in a village near Burkina Faso, killing one person. Authorities have never confirmed the jihadist nature of the attack.
- 1e December 2021: Attack on Alipore on the border with Niger, Nigeria and Burkina Faso.
- December 2, 2021: Two soldiers are killed near the Burkina Faso border.
- January 6, 2022: Three soldiers are killed when a mine explodes near Burkina Faso.
TV5MONDE: Who are the alleged perpetrators of these attacks on the country? Who are the jihadi groups and where do the terrorists come from?
Francis Kapadinde: There are no claims, which is amazing. Yet, since the beginning of December, attacks on the Peninsula have increased, not conflicts but mine explosions or, as they say, “explosive devices”.
Armed groups are enthusiastically quiet.Francis Capadinte, Professor of Science-Po Paris
We are talking about young Peninsula recruited by these groups, but the problem remains: there is no need for Penin. Armed groups are enthusiastically quiet. The people of Benign Fulani are in this part of the country, and jihadists can easily set foot there. Beninis said there are movements among the people. There is a strong mix of population.
TV5MONDE: What is the function of these jihadi groups? What kind of attacks are hitting the region?
Francis Kapadinde: Precisely, we are talking about “explosive devices”. I am not a military expert, but these devices can be mines or home-made devices. However, these devices are killed. Source of yesterday’s attack: One died instantly, and two were the result of injuries. This is the second time in two months that such bombs have been found. There were also clashes with losses on both sides.
TV5MONDE: Benin “Weak connection” Of the Gulf countries of Guinea faced by the jihadists’ desire to expand?
Francis Kapadinde: I do not think so. It is still too early to finish this. There have been attacks in C டிte d’Ivoire. The bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a crowded Grand Passam on Ivory Coast. There have been numerous clashes and attacks in northern C டிte d’Ivoire. There have been more attacks in C டிte d’Ivoire to date than in Penn.
In addition, there were some in Ghana, but the Ghanaians do not communicate much about it. There were some in Togo as well. The Togolese are very prudent in this matter. By Benin: There is no press release from the government to provide details on what is happening. Cote d’Ivoire only communicates.
The religious factor is not very important in the expansion of jihadists.Francis Capadinte, Professor of Science-Po Paris
TV5MONDE: Why this communication flaw?
Francis Kapadinde: I feel that these countries are prudent for a number of reasons. Already, in the north of these countries, there are nature parks. However, these parks are maintained to attract tourists. They are not countries with mass tourism, but the public treasury needs a few thousand tourists a year to replenish its treasury. They do not want to scare national or international tourists.
Then, countries give themselves time to see how the situation develops. Not countries like these Mali Where Niger, 95% of the population is Muslim. They do not really know what the jihadists want and claim within themselves that their territory will be used by terrorists for reclamation or distribution base and will not be a militant place. But they are wrong.
Whether they like it or not, these people are already in a fighting situation. Whether it is a Muslim-majority country or a spiritual country like Benin, jihadists do not care. The religious factor is not so important. I think terrorists and bandits are a mixture of destroying everything in their path and threatening people. This is the real problem.
TV5MONDE: Benign President Patrice Dallon talks about the perpetrators of the February 2019 attack on a police station “Hunters” And “Bandits” Despite such a mechanism of action by terrorists, without confirming the jihadist nature of the attack. Is there “Culture of denial” From the Benign government? What do you think?
Francis Kapadinde: Some call them “armed bandits”, others “robbers”. The government does not want to keep this religious. Most of the countries that use this vocabulary are Muslim majority countries. Since most of the people are Muslims, the government should be careful not to get shocked.
In general, African governments often talk about “armed bandits” or “robbers.” I do not think they are far from the truth. We rarely hear the words “Allah Akbar” shouted for example during attacks. They especially attack and kill the police. We have the intention to deal with activities such as instability, social structure and weakening of the state.
If the country is divided, jihadists will find holes to disrupt the normal course of public life.Francis Capadinte, Professor of Science-Po Paris
TV5MONDE: Will the political environment in Benin benefit jihadists?
Francis Kapadinde: Wherever the terrorists are, a national unity must be confronted. The political class and the trade union must unite. When the country is divided and problems arise, jihadists find holes to disrupt public life. They will find holes to attack and holes to recruit.
Any country that does not resolve elections or political issues is vulnerable in the face of these kinds of events. Therefore, Benin must catch the bull by the horns, ensure national unity and come to an understanding in which the political class can stand up.
If Patrice Dalone does not resolve post-election controversies, does not release political prisoners, and does not have solid national unity to confront jihadists, the latter will prosper. Patrice Dalone is aware of the dangers posed by jihadists. He sees what is happening in the weaker neighborhoods. Jihadists are resolute, know how to fight, and are openly funded by those who provide them with weapons and equipment. The Benign political class facing this kind of event must confront it head-on.
TV5MONDE: Jihadi groups continue to spread along in local conflicts. Is the situation in northern Peninsula conducive to the expansion of these groups?
Francis Kapadinde: For now, tensions between communities in northern Benin have not played a role in the expansion of jihadists in the region. However, we note that in countries where these tensions have not been permanently resolved by traditional leaders or the state, the latter can feed the armed movements for a long time. This is what is dangerous.
TV5MONDE: Is G5 Sahel likely to be extended to Guinea Gulf countries?
Francis Kapadinde: For a month, Benin had been the scene of these attacks, which had subsided in C டிte d’Ivoire. In Togo and Ghana, their numbers are stable. If the movement of attacks is generalized and attacks increase, we should consider expanding the G5 Sahel. Expansion of the G5 will benefit other countries from the expertise of the G5 member states.
We can expect the G5 to zoom in in the near future or in the medium term.Francis Capadinte, Professor of Science-Po Paris
Countries like Benin or Togo with intelligence, technical expertise and security encounters are not members of the G5. Since it is not yet connected to the G5 they will have an ignition delay. We can expect the G5 to expand in the near or medium term, with other countries in the subcontinent benefiting from the expertise of Malians, Mauritanians and others.