This is an excerpt from Remote Warfare: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Get your free download from E-International Relations.
“The glass is half full, it is complex and we have a lot to do, but I am convinced that we are on the right track,” remarked French Defense Minister Florence Parly at the Munich Security Conference on February 16, 2019.  She added that she believed that the French military presence in the G5 Sahel countries (Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Niger and Burkina Faso) would improve the security situation in the Sahel, a region that has been a major area of intervention for some time . In December 2012, French troops intervened in Mali to prevent militant Islamists from penetrating the capital Bamako, first through the Opération Serval and later through the Opération Barkhane (as of 2014). Islamist groups had taken control of the northern part of Mali and benefited from the instability caused by the Libyan civil war in the region. Opération Serval managed to recapture the territory. The Opération Barkhane was set up to provide long-term support for the entire region and to prevent “jihadist groups” from regaining control (Bacchi 2014). In recent years, however, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have suffered some of the deadliest attacks ever recorded as the area has been ravaged by tribal conflicts and terrorist attacks (Chambas 2020).
On April 3, 2019, the Amaq Agency of the Islamic State published its first video footage of an alleged attack on French forces in Mali on the border with Niger (Weiss 2019). At the Munich Security Conference in 2019, the Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso, Mamadou Alpha Barry, also lamented the increasing instability in the region and stated that the money promised to the G5 Sahel troops had not yet been paid out. France has detained around 4,500 soldiers and urged the creation of a force of G5 soldiers to fight jihadist extremism. In addition to the lack of resources, the impact of the G5 forces has also been reduced due to poor coordination between the five African countries (French Ministry of Defense 2019).
Remote warfare The measures carried out by western armed forces are shifting their focus to the Sahel zone. As European states try to rely less on the US security apparatus, old legal challenges are emerging in new areas, particularly those related to armed drones and remote warfare in a broader sense. This puts a particular strain on the local communities in the Sahel, who are kept in the dark about the operations in their country. This chapter discusses the use of remote warfare in the Sahel and the problems associated with it. The chapter then examines the possible avenues for peace in the region. In particular, the chapter explains why the European Union (EU) is best suited as a peace broker in the Sahel.
Long-range war in the Sahel
On November 17, 2018 at around 1:00 a.m. (Brussels time), the French Defense Staff reported that the Niamey Air Force Base in Niger had lost contact with a Reaper drone from the Barkhane force that was returning to base. The drone crashed in a desert area and no casualties were reported (DefPost 2018). After the news broke, the French and European public recognized the existence of French remote warfare in the region (see VOA Africa 2018; DefenseWeb 2018; Le Figaro 2018). As of July 2018, four French Reaper drones have joined the Niamey Air Force Base to improve the capabilities of Operation Barkhane. Six more drones will join the mission in 2020 (Cole 2018). In addition, France is now armed and is using its drones until the European Eurodrone project is developed, with which Italian and German armed forces are also to be equipped and which should be operational by 2025 (Charpentreau 2018).
In September 2017, Italy and Niger also signed an agreement to develop bilateral security cooperation. It was believed that the deal would only regulate the influx of migrants, but it seems that the Italian defense company Leonardo will also benefit from the deal, as evidenced by a freedom of information law in February 2019 (Labarrière 2019). This type of agreement does not need to be ratified and is not subject to parliamentary scrutiny, which makes it easier for the Italian government to carry out security operations in the Sahel without having to seek parliamentary approval.
The Italian mission will be based in Niamey within the US air force base and was originally blocked by France in a dispute with Rome over influence in the region (Negri 2018). Another aligned mission is the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA (Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission of the United Nations in Mali), which consists of around 10,000 soldiers and 2,000 police officers. Finally, Germany is also increasing its commitment in the security sector. In 2018, Burkina Faso became a partner country of the German training initiative to help build capacities within the police and gendarmerie. “We will develop this further in order to use devices and provide around ten million euros for this. We will also offer advisory services provided by the Bundeswehr. also in the order of seven to ten million euros, ”promised Angela Merkel during her visit to Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, in 2019. Speaking in Niamey, she said that support was being given, particularly with regard to training the Nigerian armed forces with “about 30 million euros recently invested”.
The EU as a whole is also increasing its presence in the region. In addition to supporting the G5 Sahel countries in political partnership and through development cooperation, the EU is supporting security and stability by providing EUR 147 million for the establishment of the Africa-led G5 Sahel community force through its three joint security and defense missions : EUCAP Sahel Niger, EUCAP Sahel Mali and EU Training Mission (EUTM) in Mali. The latter in particular falls under the definition of supporting security forces and building partner capacities, as it provides military training for the Malian armed forces. EUTM was set up in March 2013 with the aim of restructuring the Malian military and improving general security sector reform in the country.
In addition, since the summer of 2017, the EU has launched a regionalization process for Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) measures in the Sahel region in order to combine both military and civil areas and to bring the Sahel countries closer together on security issues. This work is part of a broader effort by European states to remotely conduct operations in the region. As for the US presence, Niger Air Base 201 in Agadez (Damon, 2017), a future hub for armed drones and other aircraft, is now operational. Air Base 201, a combination of three large hangars in the middle of the desert, is twice the size of Agadez itself (Maclean and Saley 2018) and houses the US armed drone mission in Niger, which is currently operating from Niamey.
The US presence in the Sahel has increased significantly in recent years. The Tongo-Tongo ambush in Niger in October 2017, in which 4 US American and 5 Nigerian soldiers were killed by fighters from the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), changed the appearance of US engagement in the region and the Nature of the US shadow war in reveals the Sahel, much like the Barkhane Reaper drone crash for Europe. Starting in 2002, the US has been conducting training missions for local armed forces to equip them for the fight against Boko Haram, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other groups such as Jam’at Nasr al-Islam Whale Muslim (JNIM). , ISGS, Ansar al-Din, Ansar al-Islam. Although the rhetoric is that they want to keep a light footprint in Africa, US forces are certainly increasing their presence in the Sahel, albeit in a different way. Immediately after the Tongo Tongo ambush, Niger approved the presence of US armed drones on its territory, and the US began building its drone depot in Agadez, a more central location in the region that would allow better control over a larger area.
The dangers of long-distance warfare in the Sahel
The fears associated with remote warfare could largely be grouped into internal and external. Internally, there is a real or perceived lack of property and an increase in conspiracy theories. Outwardly, there is an apparent lack of public control over the light-footprint warfare, as mentioned later, and the risk of setback. These fears stem directly from the hidden nature of remote warfare. The Nigerian government has welcomed the presence of US troops as long as they help eradicate terrorist activity in the country, but civil society in Niger appears suspicious of such a presence. A report from The guard In 2018, foreign military presence was said to have had a negative impact on freedom of expression and many opposition leaders complained about the lack of parliamentary scrutiny when foreign presence is permitted (Maclean and Saley 2018). It is feared that Niger will increasingly become a hub for geopolitical interests of great powers, which could lead to tougher internal treatment of dissent (ibid).
In addition, Niger spends around 21 percent of its budget on defense, which is a large percentage of its income for a poor country (Bailie 2018). The securitization of Nigeria’s political sphere is seen as a way of harnessing support for a government that would otherwise receive less approval. The legality of the presence of foreign powers does not depend on the approval of the Nigerian parliament. Neither the US nor Niger reveal the details of their cooperation. The Nigerian authorities state that these are not “defense agreements” as Niger is a purely logistical hotspot. It is therefore not surprising that the Nigerian public is concerned. A CIA official interviewed during a visit to Niamey in July 2019 reported that every time a strike starts from Niger Air Base 201, United States, near Agadez, a CIA commander uses a WhatsApp -Send text to his Nigerian counterpart, it is a gentlemen’s agreement. It would be difficult to name this parliamentary control. It appears that the defense of Nigerian territory is ongoing. After the Tongo Tongo ambush in June 2018, French and US special forces took part in a fight against militants near the Libyan border.
The development of the conflicts in the region indicates an increasing dependence on the use of remote war tactics such as building partner capacities and the use of drones. The paradox is obvious: those in power in the region are still interventionist but unwilling to bear the human costs of deploying their own troops (Jazekovic 2017), and this remote presence in the region is managed by local authorities and the population perceived as neocolonial. The US has not made its long-term strategic intentions clear, but both France and the EU have. The G5 Sahel Joint Force is seen as a way to reduce the presence of France and abroad and allow regional authorities to take greater responsibility for their own security. The declared intention is to replace the missions of Operation Barkhane and the EU’s CSDP with the G5 Sahel Joint Force. However, there does not seem to be a timetable for when such a goal should be achieved, which inevitably leads to criticism (RFI 2019).
As the US and European public stocktakes these recent developments, public information lags behind in the region. The local government’s shy communication initiatives seem to be due more to increasing pressure on politicians not to serve foreign powers than to a transparent political decision. The journalist Ahamadou Abdoulaye Abdourahamane wrote about Niamey Soir in August 2018: “There is no independence when you are monitored by foreign drones. We reject this false independence. There is no independence if our local armed forces cannot invade western bases. Regardless of the security threats, military cooperation should not mean neo-colonial conquest. ”  The journalist Seidik Abba writes: “Many Nigerians like me are deeply saddened to find out from the New York Times what is happening in their country. Niger is not a state in the United States. “
The actual or perceived lack of positive economic impact is another reason the U.S. military presence is not viewed as beneficial to the region. Many residents of the Tadarass neighborhood, which is the closest to the Agadez US201 base, denounce the base’s ineffectiveness. Both the noise and the dust caused by the base have made it difficult for local residents to accept the US presence in Agadez. In addition, the military presence does not even serve its primary purpose, which is to ensure security, as foreign presence often results in local populations being more likely to be targeted and suffer collateral damage. There are also fears that a conflict could break out between regional forces and the presence of the US or France.
In building partner capacity, studies by the Oxford Research Group in Mali and Kenya in September 2018 add to this complexity by explaining how the political vacuum in capitals is leading to disorderly coordination of troops on the ground (Knowles and Watson 2019). Mali, Knowles and Watson (2019, 2) states: “There have been some men who have been scattered across the numerous international military initiatives in the country led by the EU, the United Nations and the French without a clear sense of it how these activities – overall – could lead to a sustainable improvement in the capacity of their Malian partners. “In addition, HQ too often views the local staff as less relevant to the decision-making process, as the main political authority resides in the capitals, creating a gap between those who implement the strategy and those who develop it. Some short-term tactics (e.g. preferring the training of soldiers who belong to a certain ethnic group) can be quick and effective in the short term, but lead to further complications in the long term in an ethnic conflict country (ibid.).
As recent research (Lyckman and Weissman 2014) shows, the use of the “light footprint war” ultimately poses several challenges that relate not only to the above, but also to transparency and accountability. As Goldsmith and Waxman (2016, 8) point out, referring to the changes made by former President Obama,[…] Low-footprint warfare does not attract nearly the same level of Congressional and especially public control as more conventional military means. “In addition, the studies on the recoil consequences of distant tactics such as drone attacks vary greatly, but they are probably the most comprehensive research results. Such a topic so far (Saeed et al. 2019) states that drone attacks are followed by greatly increased suicide bombings, at least for the location and time period under consideration. All of these remote warfare threats exacerbate the internal problems noted above.
A role for the EU
The EU is the ideal peace broker in the region, not least because of the perception of the region by a number of relevant Member States. Lebovich (2018) argues that some EU members in the Sahel region believe they need to wage a key battle over the future of the European project and looks at stabilizing the region – particularly through initiatives to hinder migration and suppress terrorist threats – as the key to combating populist nationalism in their respective countries (Lebovich 2018). The EU has stepped up its efforts in the region in response to a number of destabilizing events, from the 2012 Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali and the subsequent terrorist occupation of the area to the migration crisis that spread across Europe from 2015 (although Europeans were concerned about it were) The region has been growing since 2008, if not earlier.
The European heads of state and government are also very proud of the fact that they viewed the region as central much before other powers and that they started deploying personnel very early on. The EU’s main objectives are non-military, although it has a training mission in Mali (EUTM), which means that its role in the Sahel could be very different from that of the Member States. The EU supports several security initiatives: it has already committed € 100 million to the establishment of the Africa-led G5 Sahel Joint Force, which aims to improve security in the region and fight terrorist and criminal groups. As already mentioned, the EU is itself a security actor in the Sahel with three missions on the Common Security and Defense Policy (EUCAP Sahel Niger, EUCAP Sahel Mali, EU Training Mission – EUTM – in Mali). The Council extended the mandate of the EU mission EUCAP Sahel Mali until January 2021 and provided it with a budget of almost €67 million (Council of the European Union 2019b).
In addition, the EU plans to set up a fourth CSDP mission in the region in the coming years (Lebovich 2018). In addition, programs to support stability and development in the region amount to more than EUR 400 million. For example, in 2017 the EU initiated a stabilization measure in a small area of Mali, which is intended to advise the Malian authorities in Mopti and Segou on governance issues and to support the Malian authorities’ planning and implementation of re-establishment activities, civil administration and basic services in the region. This team also wanted to support an enhanced dialogue between the Malian authorities and the local communities (Council of the European Union 2017). In an effort to respond to political pressures from Member States, which can be articulated in different ways, EU interventions in the region sometimes fail to adapt to local conditions and may contribute to long-term instability.
These interventions can also lead to complicated and weak bureaucracies, both due to strategic gaps and simply due to a large presence of uncoordinated actors. The G5 Sahel force could become another security architecture that could further exacerbate the situation in the region (Schnabel 2019). Therefore, the EU should instead focus on a civil rather than military component in order to build trust in the local population and collect much-needed data. The EU must also grapple with the competing interests of member states and the overlapping missions and contributions, from the French Operation Barkhane to the recent Italian deployment – coupled with a growing US remote presence.
As already mentioned, local perceptions make the EU better suited to having a local presence than other foreign armed forces. The Nigerian government has recognized the value of EUCAP Sahel Niger (Lebovich 2018) and has gradually adapted to the mission, increasing its participation as well. This change in attitude was observed after the outbreak of the European migration crisis, which showed local governments that European interest in the region depends heavily on emergency and provoked demands from authoritarian regimes in the region. Elites in partner countries like Niger show that they have learned to use European demands for their own benefit (Koch et al. 2018).
With regard to European remote warfare in the region and the related issue of urgently needed regulatory changes in Brussels, the new European Defense Fund (in conjunction with the European Peace Facility) offers the opportunity to have a positive impact in the region. An example of this could be the acquisition and use of armed drones. Because the EU Defense Fund does not fall within the competence of the Member States – like Italy and France, which are or will be using armed drones in the region at some point, but under EU prerogative – Brussels should focus on regulating the conduct of such missions through the establishment of a common EU policy on armed drones. In this way, the EU could have a say in how such a weapon is used so as not to fall into the US trap of endless long-distance war.
In addition, the EU’s integrated strategy for the Sahel focuses on the idea that security, development and governance are closely related. This does not mean that the security development nexus (the four pillars of which are youth) is fighting radicalization, migration and illegal trafficking) is a perfect instrument. Local civil society groups have raised concerns about how issues such as combating violent extremism (CVE) are being addressed by international actors. Despite all this, it is undeniable that the EU strategy for the Sahel presents several positive, innovative ideas for securing crisis areas where a military approach alone is not enough to secure the region.
The European Council enabled the establishment of a Regional Coordination Cell (RCC) within the framework of the European Conference on Antennas and Propagation (EUCAP) Sahel Mali (Council of the European Union 2019a). This cell comprises a network of experts in internal security and defense who are deployed in Mali, but also in EU delegations in other G5 Sahel countries. The RCC command and control structure (now renamed RACC, Regional Advisory and Coordination Cell) was recently strengthened by an increase in the number of CSDP experts and moved from Bamako to Nouakchott (ibid). The RACC supports the structures and countries of the G5 Sahel zone with strategic advice. The aim of the cell’s activities is to strengthen the regional and national capacities of the G5 Sahel zone, in particular the operationalization of the military and police components of the G5 Sahel zone. EUCAP Sahel Mali and EUCAP Sahel Niger will be able to carry out targeted activities for strategic advice and training in other G5 countries in the Sahel zone. The European Council envisages that the function of the coordination center will be transferred from Brussels to the structures of the G5 Sahel zone in the medium to long term. The coordination center is a mechanism that has been working under the responsibility of EU military personnel since November 2017 and provides an overview of the needs of the joint G5 armed forces and the potential offers of military support from EU member states and other donors. In other words, it’s a forum where offers can be tailored to suit needs.
However, in order to avoid all of the above problems, the EU should ensure that clear processes are established that not only benefit its mission, but could also help other foreign and regional presences. The new focus on security and defense and the renewed interest in the Sahel are good incentives to take more responsibility for all foreign armed forces operating in the region. This is clearly difficult to achieve as security interests are not that easily negotiable, but the EU has a lot to offer. In order to avoid duplication of work, to create larger and non-cooperative architectures and to be perceived by the local population as merely a self-serving foreign force, the EU must ensure cooperation not only between its various missions in the region, but also between all other security actors.
In addition, it should provide its missions with a well-defined and large civilian component and ensure that governance and development are a much larger part of its agenda, starting with security sector reform that is more focused on good governance and democratic principles. This is undoubtedly extremely difficult as it involves negotiations and compromises with partner governments that do not want the EU to interfere in their internal affairs. However, given the resources it provides in terms of development and training resources and its positive reputation with local communities, the EU has more leverage than it thinks it can and could press for best practices and positive reforms.
The EU should also take into account a clear timeframe and different and complementary objectives at all stages, paying particular attention to the beginning and the last moment. This would avoid mistakes such as creating other divisions in the community, as is the case with the British armed forces.  and lack of teaching due to poorly defined reporting mechanisms both internally and in Brussels. Finally, the EU should play a positive communication role, not only between the various institutional and military actors in the region, but also with local communities and civil society actors. The EU can be more effective compared to other actors because of its links to Member States’ missions, lack of colonial and neo-colonial reputation and resources.
The Sahel is experiencing a tightening of security due to criminal and terrorist threats, and both resources and personnel from certain European Member States, the United Nations and the US are pouring in. Far from creating stability, the current tensions are at risk of worsening and are perceived negatively by local communities. The EU missions and EU funds could help avoid errors due to poor administration and coordination between domestic and foreign armed forces. The EU should understand its leverage and use it to take advantage of the two keywords born in the G5 Security Alliance crest: security and development.
 Opening speech of the Munich Security Conference, accessed from https://www.defense.gouv.fr/english/salle-de-presse/dossiers-de-presse/discours-de-florence-parly-en-ouverture-de- la-münchen security conference
 The entire discussion can be found here https://www.securityconference.de/de/media-search/s_video/parallel-panel-discussion-security-in-the-sahel-traffick-jam/s_filter/video/s_term/Panel% 20Discussion% 20The% 20Syrians% 20Conflict% 3A% 20Strategy% 20or% 20Tragedy% 3F% 20Conference% 20Hall /
 By remote warfare, I mean Emily Knowles and Abigail Watson’s definition in Remote Warfare: Lessons from Contemporary Theaters (Oxford Research Group, June 2018): “A form of intervention that takes place behind the scenes or remotely rather than on a traditional battlefield, often through drone and air strikes from above, with special forces, intelligence agencies and private contractors and military training teams in front Place. ‘
 This relates to the German armed forces
 Retrieved from the Federal Government’s website https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-en/news/stepping-up-cooperation-with-the-sahel-region-1605870
 See factsheet of the European External Action Service on G5 Sahel: https://eeas.europa.eu/sites/eeas/files/factsheet_eu_g5_sahel_0.pdf
 A map of the armed groups in the region can be found at Lebovich (2019) https://www.ecfr.eu/mena/sahel_mapping
 Loosely translated from French. Retrieved from http://www.niameysoir.com/abdoul-ecrivain-du-sahel-lindependance-dans-la-negation-de-la-dependance-il-ny-a-pas-dindependance-sous-la-surveillance- des-drones-des-Forces-Militaires-Etrangeres /
 Locker aus dem Französischen übersetzt. Abgerufen von https://twitter.com/abbaseidik/status/1039449240303493121?s=20
 Die Autoren (Saeed et al. 2019) testen, ob es in Pakistan während 30-tägiger Zeiträume unmittelbar nach Drohnenangriffen erhöhte Selbstmordattentatsraten gibt. Zu diesem Zweck verwenden sie die Drohnenangriffsdatenbank des Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), die sich von 2004 bis 2017 erstreckt und 430 Streiks in Pakistan umfasst.
 Siehe Seite des Europäischen Rates zu EUCAP Sahel Mali: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2019/02/21/eucap-sahel-mali-mission-extended-until-14-january -2021-Budget-von-67-Millionen-verabschiedet /
 Dies bedeutet, dass die Europäische Kommission (und der Haushalt des Europäischen Parlaments) entscheiden wird, wie der Fonds verwendet wird, ohne dass die Mitgliedstaaten konsultiert werden müssen. Dies ist das erste Mal in der Geschichte der Europäischen Union, dass ein Verteidigungshaushalt ein Vorrecht der EU-Kommission ist. Siehe meinen Beitrag zum Europäischen Verteidigungsfonds: Goxho (2019), Europäischer Verteidigungsfonds und europäische Drohnen: Spiegel der US-Praxis?, Weltgeschehen
 Das könnte so aussehen wie das von Dorsey im Juni 2017 vorgeschlagene.
 Das Interview des EU-Sonderbeauftragten Losada kann unter folgender Adresse eingesehen werden: https://africacenter.org/spotlight/eu-security-strategy-sahel-focused-security-development-nexus/
 Bedenken in Bezug auf solche Angelegenheiten wurden während unserer Reise nach Niamey im Juli 2019 hauptsächlich von der EU geteilt Reseau d’Appui Aux Initiatives Locales (RAIL) und die Collectif des Organizations de Defense de Droit de l’Homme (CODDH).
 Die Strategie der Europäischen Union für die Sahelzone finden Sie hier: https://eeas.europa.eu/sites/eeas/files/factsheet_eu_g5_sahel_july-2019.pdf
 Knowles und Watson (2019) bemerken in „Verbesserung des britischen Angebots in Afrika: Lehren aus militärischen Partnerschaften auf dem Kontinent“:[In Mali] Ein Beispiel ist die ethnische Zusammensetzung der Streitkräfte, die auf diejenigen aus dem Süden des Landes ausgerichtet ist. Die Beschleunigung des Wachstums einer nicht repräsentativen Kraft im Zusammenhang mit anhaltenden Konflikten zwischen verschiedenen Ethnien in Mali könnte sich äußerst nachteilig auf die langfristige Sicherheit auswirken. “
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VOA Africa. 2018. ‘French Reaper drone crashes in Niger.’ 17 November. https://www.voaafrique.com/a/un-drone-reaper-fran%C3%A7ais-s-%C3%A9crase-au-niger/4663081.html Weiss, Caleb. 2019. ‘Islamic State releases first combat video from Mali.’ FDD’s Long War Journal. 3 April.
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