Instability belt from West Africa to Sahel and to Somalia- Sunbelt for the climate neutral and green hydrogen EU 2050?

Instability belt from West Africa to Sahel and to Somalia- Sunbelt for the climate neutral and green hydrogen EU 2050?

The hypothesis of this article is that to achieve the targets of the Paris Climate Accord and a climate neutral green hydrogen EU you have only the opportunity to built renewable energy belts not in Europe, but in the sun belts of the MENA region and the sunbelt from West Africa via the Sahel to Somalia. While the MENA belt after the turmoils of the Arab Spring experiences some sort of stabilization, you have to involve Turkey and Russia at least if you want a stable enviroment and maybe a sun belt. And if there is no way for green hydrogen, you also have to rely on Russia or the USA to get blue or turquese hydrogen from gas. The other sunbelt from West Africa to Somalia is erdoing and becoming a instability belt. A third option would be to focus on the Sub Sahara, Southern African parts of Africa, but till now noboby ever proposed that, not even the EU or Germany.Some Germans and Europeans hope for a sunbelt in Australia, but even this is not sure, even in a secure envorment as Australia wants to supply Asia and the energy transfer to Europe would be another big problem if you don´t think that all that energy and hydrogen could be delivered by container ships. An underwater electricity cable from Darwin to Europe is not possible in the making. But first let´s analyze the situation in Africa: We start with an anaylsis of the second instability sun belt from West Africa to Somalia and ask conclusive questions at the end.

The leader of the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram apparently died in a skirmish with the rival Islamist group ISWAP. That could mean the end of Boko Haram, but it will probably not ease the situation in the Lake Chad region In the twelfth year of the campaign of the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram (common translation: Western education is forbidden), there are increasing indications that their leader Abubakar Shekau died – albeit not in a dispute with the Nigerian state law enforcement agencies, but in a fight with the competing Islamist group „Islamic State in the Province of West Africa“ (ISWAP) group, which in 2016 allied itself with the terrorist group „Islamic State“ (IS). Shekau is said to have blown himself up in a skirmish between Boko Haram and ISWAP in the Sambisa forest in Borno state in Mortheastern Nigeria on May 18 to avoid capture by ISWAP fighters. The Nigerian military had already reported Shekau’s death several times in recent years. But each time the man who had been declared dead reappeared shortly afterwards and published video messages in which he had only ridicule and malice for the military, the state and all other opponents. Shekau’s military successes and his interpretation of the Koran as an instruction to armed jihad, coupled with ruthless criminal energy, created a myth of invincibility. With every false report of his death and with every increase in the bounty placed on Shekau, which hat last amounted to several million US dollars and made him the most wanted man in Africa, he gained in power. The history of Islam in what is now producing dissent.. Boko Haram was initially just one of many small Islamic sects in Morthern Nigeria that led a reasonably peaceful, largely unnoticed niche existence in manageable communities far from the urban centers, where the state is hardly present. Their rise and radicalization are the most extreme reaction to date to the inability of the secular state to make modernization processes bearable and to eradicate corruption.

The political situation in the state of Borno, a far-reaching and politicized wave of Islamization that has lasted for several decades and which began in 1999 with the founding of the »IV. Republic which «started the democratization of Nigeria played an important role in the rise of the sect to a political actor and its transformation into a terrorist and criminal organization. Power games in Borno triggered the sect’s politicization, but their dream of establishing an Islamic state of God with the help of the regional government soon ended. In early 2009, demonstrations in some cities in northeast Nigeria regularly led to clashes between sect members and law enforcement officers. After a demonstration by Boko Haram was banned in Borno, riots broke out in the state. President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who was already ill at the time, approved violent action by the state law enforcement agencies against Boko Haram. It is estimated that they killed at least 700 sect members in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno. Then the group’s campaign began. The change in Boko Haram also brought the other small sects to the center of the state’s struggle against the Islamist uprising. So they too experienced the most painful r3action of the state.

 The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), a Shiite group that is oriented towards the Islamic revolution in Iran and, like Boko Haram, rejects the secular state as illegitimate, plays a special role. Although the leadership of both organizations was socialized in the same Islamist circles in the 1970s and 1980s, the groups differ fundamentally in terms of their goals. The IMN criticized the introduction of Sharia in the Northern federal states about 20 years ago as heretical and only accepts Jihad, which has been approved by Allah – armed if necessary – as a viable route to an Islamic state. Boko Haram, on the other hand, saw the introduction of Sharia as an intermediate step on the way to a truly Islamic community. The killing of the founder of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, and his closest companion by police officers in mid-2009 favored Shekau’s rise to the position of a willing jihadist leader. Shekau, from the town of the same name in the Tarmuwa district near the border between the state of Yobe and the Republic of Niger, did not belong to Yusuf’s innermost circle. He gathered surviving and scattered supporters and sympathizers around him, found shelter in the nearby and inaccessible border region to the eastern neighboring country of Cameroon and reorganized Boko Haram, while other supporters went underground.

Shekau headed a 37-member committee, the Shura, and after less than a year the situation in Northeastern Nigeria, which is only rudimentarily integrated into the socio-economic structures, began to change significantly. Snipers began shooting down police officers, followed by fatal raids on police stations, in which armories were looted. But Shekau’s campaign was not limited to the police, but set in motion a series of murders which, within a few months, let a number of members of the higher Islamic clergy who had expressed criticism of Boko Haram fell victim to assasinations . Attacks and assassinations of churches, clergymen and believers of both major religions, Christianity and Islam, soon followed. The 2011 presidential election was won by the politically inexperienced Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the South of the country who did not even begin to understand the socio-cultural and security-political dimensions of the Islamic uprising. He delegated the problem to the military, which he provided with billions of dollars.

 Nevertheless, during his term in office, which lasted until 2015, the Islamist uprising struck large parts of Northeastern Nigeria. During this time, Islamist terror and constant attacks by the state law enforcement forces, which often resulted in state terror, claimed thousands of deaths among jihadists, bystanders, civilians, police officers and soldiers. The Islamist group ISWAP has been building its own ruling and administrative structures in the Lake Chad region for some time, which are intended to force the local population to behave cooperatively.

 At the same time, the general security situation deteriorated and an army of internally displaced persons was formed. High-ranking military officers, security advisors, business people and politicians benefited from the war on terror, which in the years that followed, based on the principle of „war feeds war“, became a lucrative business model. Boko Haram and their splinter groups followed a similar course, which also promised the greatest possible damage and profit: fight against the hated state, robbery, murder and kidnapping.

 But even Boko Haram was not spared from dissent. As early as 2012, a faction split offas  Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina For Biladis Sudan (Protector of Muslims in Black Africa, Ansaru for short), embarking on an even more brutal jihadist course. Another split in Boko Haram in 2016, from which ISWAP emerged, fundamentally changed the balance of power in the border regions of the countries bordering Lake Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Chad. The upgrading of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) of the four neighboring countries and the Republic of Benin, which began the year before, was beginning to have an impact. At the same time, Nigeria managed to use the MNJTF to move this internal conflict to the border regions of the neighboring countries and thus to internationalize it. This in turn prompted financial contributions from the so-called international community and intelligence support from non-African powers, including France and the United States.

Nevertheless, the results of the fight against Islamist terror in the Lake Chad region so far have been poor. The power and influence of the ISWAP have grown and the bloody struggle between the jihadists has taken a new turn. For some time now, the ISWAP has been building up its own power and administrative structures, which are intended to force the local population to behave cooperatively. This approach met with fierce resistance from Shekau, who apparently paid for it with his life. Shekau’s death – if confirmed – could mean the end of Boko Haram. At the same time, it illustrates the greater danger posed by ISWAP. There is now a threat of closer links between the conflict in the Lake Chad region and the other conflicts in the Sahel in which the ISWAP is involved. Although the main focus of the reporting is on Islamist terror, the real tragedy is taking place in north-west and central Nigeria, where organized crime and banditry keep the state under control and large parts of the population are tortured and terrorized.

Jihadists are on the rise in West Africa. The local armies are weak, and European soldiers have not yet been able to push back the groups allied with al-Qaida and the “Islamic State.The „Islamic State“ (IS) is continuing its global jihadist struggle, not least on the African continent. In countries like Mali in the west or Mozambique in the south-east, more and more groups are active that invoke IS. In West Africa and the Sahel region, IS is just one of numerous jihadist groups that have been fighting the state’s monopoly of power and terrorizing the civilian population for years. The rival, al-Qaeda affiliated „Group in Support of Islam and Muslims“ (GSIM) has the majority of the stronger jihadist groups in Mali – al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQMI), al-Mourabitoun (The Guardians) and Ansar Dine ( Defender of Religion) – bound to itself, with which regional groups such as the Macina Liberation Front cooperate.

 The economically underdeveloped countries with their traditionally weak state apparatus are hardly able to protect their people. The countries suffer from political instability as well as corruption and clientelism, also in the police and army. Not far from the border triangle where Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso border each other, over 170 people were killed, presumably by jihadists, in the villages of Solhan and Tadaryat on the night of June 5. Jihadist violence hit Burkina Faso and Niger hardest in recent months. In the west of Niger, near the border with Mali, suspected jihadists rode motorbikes from village to village in mid-March and carried out massacres of the civilian population. There were over 200 fatalities in one week, 137 people were killed on March 21 alone. Thousands fled from the villages near the border, including to the Western Nigerin regional capital Tillabéri. According to the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are already 300,000 internally displaced persons in Niger, plus 237,000 refugees from neighboring countries. In Mali, 372,000 people are on the run.

In the Southern neighboring state of Burkina Faso, too, the population suffers from jihadist violence. Not far from the triangle where Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso border each other, over 170 people were killed in the villages of Solhan and Tadaryat on the night of June 5, allegedly by jihadists; Al-Qaeda affiliated groups and the „Islamic State in the Great Sahara“ (ISGS) are active in the area. It was the worst attack since jihadist terror began in north and east Burkina Faso in 2014; here too thousands are on the run after the massacre. According to media reports, the attack in Solhan was initially directed against the militia „Volunteers for the Defense of the Fatherland“ (VDG), which the Burkinabe parliament decided to set up at the beginning of last year. The Burkinabe government ordered a three-day state mourning. On Friday last week, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian made a state visit to the capital Ouagadougou to assure the government that France would continue to support its partners in the Sahel region in the military fight against jihadists.

Le Drian’s statement was carefully registered in the countries of the region, as French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Thursday of last week that the French army would „end Operation Barkhane as a foreign mission“. The French military mission in the region, which has its headquarters in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, has been operating under this name since 2014. 4,000 to 5,000 French soldiers fight jihadist groups in Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Mauritania and Mali. After a military coup in Mali End of May, which followed a military coup in August last year, the French army suspended its cooperation with the Malian army, but independently continued the fight against jihadist groups. Macron’s remarks appeared to question the future of French military engagement in the region as a whole.

As Le Drian made clear during his visit to Burkina Faso, however, the French army will in future strengthen cooperation with the African armies in the region and set up the so-called Task Force Takuba, which the French army formed last year together with special forces from various European armies . However, it is still unclear what the exact form the French and European military missions will take in the future. German soldiers have so far been involved as part of the UN stabilization mission Minusma and an EU mission to train the Malian armed forces. At the end of May, Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out the removal of the 1,700 Bundeswehr soldiers in Mali because of the latest coup, whose deployment the Bundestag had only extended in April The French military operation began in 2013 as a short-term intervention to fight jihadists in Northern Mali, but developed into a long-term mission with an unpredictable end and no prospect of victory anytime soon.

As early as 2019, the then French chief of staff, François Lecointre, said that the French mission was “useful and necessary”, but that “there would be no permanent military victory in Mali”. The dysfunctionality and lack of legitimacy of the state institutions in large parts of the countries in the region stand in the way. At the weekend, the 59 year old Lecointre submitted his resignation. As a reason, he let through the worry that the neutrality of the armed forces would be endangered, probably with a view to the right-wing extremist statements by French military personnel. Under Lecointre, the French army achieved some success, as the newspaper Le Figaro pointed out on the occasion of his resignation. Last year he succeeded in eliminating jihadist leaders in Mali, especially those from the GISM. This was made possible by an approach that Le Figaro compared with the „surge“ strategy applied in Iraq in 2007 under the then US President George W. Bush. This was the name of a military offensive against the jihadists then active in occupied Iraq, in which Sunni tribes were involved and armed. Jihadist forces in Sunni areas had previously benefited from the feeling of many Sunnis that they were excluded from power after the fall of Saddam Hussein.#

In the Sahel region, too, the population is increasingly being directly involved in the security strategy of the state apparatus. However, this also has disadvantages. In the West of Niger, for example, more and more militias have been set up in the past two years to defend themselves against jihadist activities, which – in addition to some problems with the control of such groups – also led to the jihadists massacring the civilian population more and more. Because they were increasingly deprived of the opportunity to find shelter and food in villages, the jihadist groups were all the more aggressive. The jihadists try to take advantage of conflict between population groups when recruiting, especially between arable farmers and nomads. Disputes over water play a role, which is becoming even scarcer due to climate change. The spread of the desert as well as population growth and the development of new agricultural areas have intensified the conflicts in the entire region for years. In the tri-border region, the population  of the Peul, some of the nomadic people, were decimated again and again; the ISGS is recruited from the Peul, among others. The fact that the fight against terrorism in Mali and Niger was consequently often directed against Peul, who did not belong to jihadist groups, drove more recruits to join the jihadists. The GSIM also recruits from among the Tuareg; the drying up of sources of income from the trans-Saharan trade in petrol, weapons and drugs as well as their marginalization in the states there favor this.

The Malian central government has tried in recent years to resolve local conflicts through negotiations in which it made offers to population groups susceptible to recruitment. In some cases even leaders of militant groups were involved in these talks. The government of Burkina Faso has also started negotiations with jihadist groups in recent months. It is questionable whether conflicts can be defused in this way, or whether these groups can be valued by negotiating with them. France had always refused to negotiate with the armed groups in Mali, but in recent months it has been shown that they are accepting the circumstances on the ground. What influence France will have on the Malian government in the future is just as unclear after the recent military coup, as is the question of how the political situation in the country will develop. Colonel Assimi Goïta, who has taken over the leadership as interim president, promised to hold elections by February 2022. However, the French government is fundamentally suspicious of him.

However what we see is a destabliziation of West Africa and the Sahel zone and you can prolong it to the Chad Sea region to Ethiopia´s new civil war to Somalia. The question is if beyond the first Islamic belt in the MENA region which stabilises due to Russian an Turksih influenve from Libya to Syria, while the Saudi-Iran-Israel conflict is still shaky, there could be another Islamist belt from West Africa via the Sahel to Somalia. But as we see, the Islamist groups are  splitting, fighting each other, also with the security and militaries of the central state which try to let their states  united, it becomes clear that this will be a belt of instabilty. Thomas Lennartz , Director (CO) of Middle East and Oriental Security Analysts and of the Special Warfare Intelligence and Analysis Center. Middle East and Oriental Security Analyst thinks this could create more transnational, traditional semitribal new African states:  

“Africa is a continent on the move, here Islam is currently still trapped within ethnic boundaries, just as the continent is still suffering from its colonial past. Whether Islamist and jihadist movements will manage to unite to form an African umma across ethnic borders is still doubtful to me at the moment, as is the long-term survival of post-colonial structures and interests. I am more inclined to believe that in an Africa of the future we will see a break-up of post-colonial borders and a territorial reorganization as well as a return to African culture and religions, which could then be at the expense of the Abrahamic religions in Africa.”

Whatever ill be, but for a for3seeable time West Africa, the Sahel right to the Horn of Africa will be a very instable belt. It remains to be seen if all the green hdyrogene and reneweable energy fdom solar power which the EU and Germany discusses can be the product from Marrocanian, West African ad Sahel  sun states, if Desert Tech is already canceled. Or do you want to engage in a solar imperialism which brings German and Europeans armies to this region in order to stabilize it and get the sunbelt? Merkel already declared today that because the Germans don´t want to have land wind parks and electricity pylons from the North Sea to the South, that you have to build more offshore wind parks. All this energy transition for a CO1 neutral EU in 2030 or what is 2050 as the Paris Accord are questionalble if you cannot get the wanted green energy. All This doesn´t be though through. On the other side Russia, Gazprom and BASF produce blue and turquese hydrogen from gas as their green hydrogen opponents till now have no answer how to get all that green renewable solar and wind power and electricity, let alone for e-mobility. Even if Joe Biden´s transatlantic New Silkroad in Eurasia and Africa should be financed, the question remains how you will have stable enviroments in the MENA Belt and the instaility belt from West Africa to the Sahel and Somalia More Black Hawks down or a African Afghanistan? Even the Chinese with their own Silkroad in Africa have no plan and no troops they could deploy, even if the have a samll military base in .Djibouti.China can´t project power to this regions miliarilyy as its main obsession is to get Taiwan back till 2049 or earlier..

The Desert Tech solar project is a non-profit organization as a platform that was initiated by the Club of Rome. Initially, potential investors such as Siemens, RWE, Allianz, Münchner Rück were involved, but have now jumped off the project. The aim of Desert Tech was to build a gigantic belt of solar systems in the Sahel and Sahara as the project of the century, which should supply Europe and Africa with solar power. But nothing has come of it so far. On the one hand, economic and technological reasons apparently spoke against Desert Tech, then also the pressure of the oil, gas and coal industries and, above all, as a US entrepreneur told me, political reasons, namely political stability. On the one hand, Islamism is rampant in the desert tech region (Sahara / Sahel zone) – my thesis: If the trends continue, there will be 2 Islamist belts in Africa: Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman empire with the Muslim Brotherhood in the MENA region and a second Islamist belt from Nigeria via the Sahel zone to Somalia which will be controlled by IS, Boko Haram and Al Shabab. In the best case, many companies fear a repetition of the experiences of the oil industry in the Arab states: They build the solar parks for the Africans, but these could then be expropriated or nationalized, as well as there might be a solar OPEC. Would the oil wars in the Greater Middle East be followed by solar wars in Africa and would the peace movement then have to replace its slogan “No Blood for Oil” with “No Blood for Sun”?

While Desert Tech seems to have failed on the part of western, especially European and German companies, Anglo-Saxon entrepreneurs are now taking action in the form of their own Suncable project, which has both Australian and US interested parties, above all Elon Musk, on board. A gigantic solar park is to be built in the Autralian outback between Ayers Rock and Darwin, which by far exceeds the dimensions of Desert Tech and, in addition to Australia, is to supply Singapore, Southeast Asia and Asia with solar power via underwater cables. However, solar and wind power in Australia, even if it is a stable environment is not the solution to the needed  renewable energy and new hydrogen economy in a climate neutral EU. We thereby leave it to these open questions.

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