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FRENCH AMBASSADOR EXPELLED FROM BURKINA FASO AND AL-SHABAAB ATTACKS ETHIOPIAN FORCES IN SOMALIA

September 14-20, 2023 | Issue 32 - CENTCOM/AFRICOM Team

Flavie Curinier, Giorgia Cito, Lucrezia Taddei, Utsav Yadav

Brantley Williams, Editor; Radhika Ramalinga Venkatachalam, Senior Editor


Flag of Burkina Faso[1]


Date: September 14, 2023

Location: Burkina Faso

Parties involved: Burkina Faso; Burkina Faso’s military junta; France; French Embassy in Ouagadougou; French Embassy defense attache Emmanuel Pasquier; UN peacekeepers; Italian defense attache; American defense attache; extremist groups; Mali-based terrorist group Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM); Niger; Mali

The event: A leaked letter reveals that Burkina Faso ordered the expulsion of Pasquier, a senior military officer attached to the French embassy.[2] Pasquier has two weeks to leave the country after allegedly undermining the nation’s ruling military junta. The dismissal of Pasquier reflects the current diplomatic tensions between France and Burkina Faso.[3] France has maintained close ties with Burkina Faso by sending troops to help fight jihadist insurgencies from neighboring Mali.[4] Anti-French sentiments have grown in Burkina Faso due to the military staging two coups last year and the presence of French troops, accusing them of not doing enough to curb the ongoing militancy.[5][6]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Burkina Faso’s military junta will very likely order the expulsion of Italian and American defense attaches from the country. The ruling junta will almost certainly justify the dismissal of the Italian and American defense attaches by accusing them of intervening in their internal affairs. Burkina Faso will very likely imprison the attaches if they do not comply with orders to leave the country within a certain timeframe.

  • Burkina Faso’s deteriorating relationship with France will likely impact its economy and result in a humanitarian crisis in the country. France will likely reconsider its financial support to Burkina Faso, resulting in inflation, unemployment, and a decline in foreign aid, trade, and investments in the country. This will likely result in shortages of basic needs such as food, water, and medicine and likely cause a significant internal displacement of civilians.

  • The growing anti-French sentiments and the resulting economic impact will likely lead to widespread dissatisfaction with the junta and will likely escalate violence and extremist recruitment across the country. Extremist groups, such as JNIM, will likely use this power vacuum to recruit affected individuals. This will likely create a spillover of terrorist groups going in and out of Burkina Faso and likely destabilize neighboring countries such as Niger and Mali.


Date: September 17, 2023

Location: Near Rab Dhuure City, Bakool Region, Somalia

Parties involved: Somali officials; Somalia residents; Ethiopia; Ethiopian forces; al-Shabaab militants; Ethiopia’s ambassador to Somalia, Mukhtar Mohamed Ware; internally displaced persons (IDPs);​​​ internationally sponsored peacekeeping program African Union Transition Mission (ATMIS) in Somalia; UN Security Council (UNSC); EU; Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD); Kenya; social media platforms

The event: Violent clashes broke out between the Ethiopian army and al-Shabaab militants when the latter launched an ambush on two convoys carrying Ethiopian soldiers in Bakool region, Somalia.[7] A Somali official riding with the convoys said the two vehicles were met with explosives and a fight ensued between the army and militants, lasting for several hours. al-Shabaab militants later claimed on social media that they had killed more than 100 hundred Ethiopian soldiers; the casualty figure has not been independently verified.[8] Ethiopia has sent troops to Somalia under ATMIS, which aims to establish peace in the country. al-Shabaab has accused Ethiopia of being crusaders, which the Ethiopian government has rejected.[9]

Analysis & Implications:

  • There is a roughly even chance for the UNSC to extend the mandate of ATMIS, strengthening its military involvement and aiding in the fight against al-Shabaab within the country. This will likely lead to increased Somali attacks with higher effectiveness against the group. The Somali government will likely maintain its partnership with ATMIS and international partners such as the EU and IGAD.

  • The ongoing conflict in Somalia will likely increase the humanitarian crisis and the number of IDPs. This conflict will likely impact essential services, such as healthcare facilities, food distribution centers, and clean water sources. The lack of access to critical infrastructures and essential needs will likely spread disease and other health issues.

  • al-Shabaab will likely exploit the situation in Somalia to recruit individuals and expand its presence, in neighboring countries, likely inducing cross-border IDPs and increased radicalized individuals. This will likely lead to increased violence from radicalized individuals, further destabilizing Somalia and neighboring countries. The spillover of al-Shabaab activities in Somalia will likely result in security concerns for neighboring countries, such as Kenya and Ethiopia, which al-Shabaab has already targeted in the past.

 

[2] Burkina Faso junta orders French embassy's defence attache to leave, Reuters, September 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/burkina-faso-orders-french-embassys-defence-attache-leave-junta-statement-2023-09-15/

[3] Paris says Burkina Faso requested withdrawal of French ambassador, Reuters, September 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/paris-says-burkina-faso-requested-withdrawal-french-ambassador-2023-01-03/

[4] Burkina Faso's military regime expels French ambassador, Africa News, September 2023, https://www.africanews.com/2023/01/03/burkina-fasos-military-regime-expels-french-ambassador//

[5] Burkina Faso junta orders French embassy's defence attache to leave, Reuters, September 2023, https://www.reuters.com/article/burkina-security-idAFKBN30L1EO

[6] France recalls ambassador to Burkina Faso, pulls out troops, AP, September 2023, https://apnews.com/article/france-government-burkina-faso-a433dc3ff96225a88bd9f5b7ba19af1c

[7] Ethiopian forces clash with al Shabaab in western Somalia, residents say, Reuters, September 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/ethiopian-forces-clash-with-al-shabaab-western-somalia-residents-2023-09-17/

[9] Ibid

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