Fulani cattle herders turned to jihad to protect their livestock from Tuareg cattle raiders. However, both the Fulani and Tuareg have increasing numbers of jihadists. This suggests there is a perception that being a jihadist in the current Sahel political and economic environment may increase evolutionary fitness. What created that environment?
A turning point was the Western-backed ouster of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. With his demise, many Tuareg from the region who had fought as mercenaries for Gaddafi returned home, bringing with them the contents of Libya’s looted armories.
When Doundou Chefou first took up arms as a youth a decade ago, it was for the same reason as many other ethnic Fulani herders along the Niger-Mali border: to protect his livestock.
He had nothing against the Republic of Niger, let alone the United States of America. His quarrel was with rival Tuareg cattle raiders.
Yet on Oct. 4 this year, he led dozens of militants allied to Islamic State in a deadly assault against allied U.S.-Niger forces, killing four soldiers from each nation and demonstrating how dangerous the West’s mission in the Sahel has become.
From CIW NEWS Contributor
Tillabéri, Tillabéri Region, Mali
Mali (ML) is estimated to have a population of 18.3 million with a growth rate during 2010-2015 of 3.0% pa.
At the same rate of change, in five years' time its population will increase by 2.9 million.