Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso: junta pursues ‘total war’

Burkina Faso’s emergency aid and security challenges are deepening as the junta-led regime pursues an aggressive military campaign against jihadist insurgents, who have now extended their control to some 40% of the national territory. The country has faced armed insurgency since 2015, but fatalities and relief needs have hit record highs since army Captain Ibrahim TraorĂ© seized power from a different junta last year, and launched a “total war” against the jihadists. Over two million people have been displaced, and 4.7 million require assistance, an increase of more than 1 million over last year. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)


‘ISIS-linked’ families repatriated to Iraq from Syria

Iraq has taken in 192 families from Syria’s al-Hol camp that houses persons accused of having links to the Islamic State (ISIS). A total of 780 individuals were returned to Iraq and will be placed in al-Jadaa Center for Community Rehabilitation in Nineveh province. The families are to remain at al-Jadaa camp until they are given clearance from the Interior Ministry to return to their homes and issued identification documents. Al-Hol camp, overseen by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), is located in northeast Syria’s Hasaka province and houses over 50,000 supposedly ISIS-linked persons. (Photo: SOHR)


Burkina Faso: Sankara gets a street — but where’s the legacy?

Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary leader of Burkina Faso, was assassinated in a coup 36 years ago this week. Some see his legacy being carried forward by the head of the country’s current junta, Ibrahim TraorĂ©. Like Sankara, TraorĂ© seized power in his early 30s and has espoused strong anti-imperialist views. He has cut ties with former colonial ruler France, and snubbed offers of Western military aid. At a commemoration this week in Ouagadougou, authorities officially had the capital city’s Boulevard Charles de Gaulle renamed Boulevard Thomas Sankara. Detractors say Traoré mobilizes anti-imperialism to legitimize his rule, which is threatened by disgruntled soldiers and jihadist insurgents. The army captain, in power since late last year, has pursued an all-out military strategy against jihadists, spurning the dialogue options pursued by his predecessors. Insecurity has worsened under his watch, and his troops have been accused of brutal attacks against civilians. (Photo via Global Voices)


‘Islamic State,’ Islamic Republic both target Baluchi

More than 50 were killed and dozens injured in a suicide attack in Pakistan’s Balochistan province as people gathered to celebrate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. Those targeted in the blast at the town of Mastung were overwhelmingly members of the Baluch ethnicity. The attack is believed to have carried out by the local “Islamic State” franchise, ISIS-Khorasan. That same day, Iranian security forces opened fire on Baluchi protesters at the town of Zahedan, Sistan & Baluchestan province, leaving several wounded. The demonstration had been called to commemorate the previous year’s “Bloody Friday” massacre in Zahedan, when some 40 were slain by security forces during a protest held amid the national uprising then sweeping through Iran. (Map via Wikipedia)


Mali: air-strikes on Tuareg rebels reported

Mali’s military reportedly carried out air-strikes against Tuareg militants in the desert north—an escalation that risks opening up another conflict front in the country, which is already embroiled in a long counterinsurgency war with jihadist rebels. The accusation was made by the Coordinating Body of Azawad Movements (CMA), a coalition of Tuareg rebel groups that signed a peace deal with the Malian government in 2015. The government claims to have struck jihadist positions in the Kidal region, but the CMA rebels charge that they were targeted. Two weeks earlier, the CMA also accused Malian forces and Russian Wagner Groupmercenaries of attacking its followers in the Timbuktu region. (Map: PCL)


Turkey intransigent on Syria occupation zone

In his drive for “normalization” of his regime, Syran dictator Bashar Assad has been welcoming meetings with regional leaders in recent months. However, in comments to a reporter, he set a withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Syria as a precondition for any meeting with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “Erdogan’s objective in meeting me is to legitimize the Turkish occupation in Syria,” Assad said. Turkey’s Defense Minister Yasar Guler responded by saying: “It is unthinkable for us to withdraw without ensuring the security of our borders and our people.” Ankara continues to demand the establishment of a 30-kilometer deep “buffer zone” cleared of any Kurdish armed groups. (Photo: Mark Lowen via Wikimedia)


Military coup d’etat consolidated in Niger

Niger’s national broadcaster identified Gen. Abdourahamane Tiani as president of the country’s new military government following a coup that deposed elected President Mohamed Bazoum. The country’s new ruling junta, called the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Homeland, was formed out of Niger’s presidential guard, which carried out the coup. The AU, EU, US and Russia have all condemned the coup as unconstitutional. However, Wagner Group commander Yevgeni Prigozhin lauded the coup as part of “the struggle of the people of Niger [against] their colonizers,” and and offered his fighters’ services to bring order. Pro-coup protesters in Niger have been photographed with Russian flags. (Map: PCL)


UN: halt indefinite detention at Syria camps

UN Special Rapporteur for human rights Fionnuala NĂ­ Aoláin released a statement urging the cessation of “indefinite mass detention without legal process,” particularly of children, in northeastern Syria detention centers. Around 52,000 people are held in the camps at al-Hol and al-Roj in Syria’s northeast. Around 60% are children, of whom 80% are under 12. Most children are there due to their parents’ supposed links to ISIS. Many are separated from their parents, with NĂ­ Aoláin asserting that boys are often forcibly separated from their mothers upon reaching adolescence. Both camps are under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a primarily Kurdish organization which has fought ISIS since 2014. (Photo: Abdul Aziz Qitaz/UNOCHA)

Burkina Faso

Ghana: cease forced return of Burkinabé refugees

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said it is concerned about reports that hundreds of Burkinabé refugees fleeing to Ghana, including women and children, are being deported. According to UNHCR, more than 17,500 Burkina Faso nationals have fled to neighboring countries, including Niger, Mali and Ghana, since January 2021 as a result of the ongoing internal conflict. Ghana is accused of having forcibly deported more than 500 Burkinabé seeking protection along the border. A video on Twitter showing expelled women and children sitting in a parking lot near the border has been widely circulated. The UNHCR called on Ghana to stop the deportations, saying that they amount to a violation of the non-refoulement principle. (Photo: Leonardo Perez Aranda via Wikimedia Commons)

Jisr al-Shughur

Russia, Israel both still bombing Syria

At least 13 people, nine of them civilians, were killed in Russian air-strikes within the so-called “de-escalation zone” in northern Syria’s Idlib province, with some of the strikes hitting a crowded vegetable market. The area targeted in the raid, already suffering a severe displacement crisis, is controlled by the Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) Islamist faction. Meanwhile, sporadic Israeli air-strikes on regime-held Syrian territory also continue—with apparent tacit approval from Russia, as long as they target the Iranian military presence in the country. (Photo: @SyriaCivilDef)

ivory coast

French forces out of Burkina Faso, into Ivory Coast

France has officially ended its operations in Burkina Faso a month after the ruling junta there terminated a military accord that allowed the former colonial power to fight jihadists. French forces remain in the greater region, however. The move came as French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu visited CĂ´te d’Ivoire, pledging to boost military support as jihadist attacks hit coastal West African states. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)


Podcast: West Africa’s forgotten wars

In Episode 161 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg provides an overview of the under-reported conflicts in West Africa, where government forces and allied paramilitary groups battle multiple jihadist insurgencies affiliated either with ISIS or al-Qaeda on a franchise model. Horrific massacres have been committed by both sides, but the Western media have only recently started to take note because of the geopolitical angle that has emerged: both Mali and Burkina Faso have cut long-standing security ties with France, the former colonial power, and brought in mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group. In both countries, the pastoralist Fulani people have been stigmatized as “terrorists” and targeted for extra-judicial execution and even massacre—a potentially pre-genocidal situation. But government air-strikes on Fulani communities in Nigeria have received no coverage in the Western media, because of the lack of any geopolitical rivalry there; Nigeria remains firmly in the Anglo-American camp. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Sahara Reporters)