Sahel Security 2023: Arms Trafficking Forecast

Reduced international cooperation, increased Jihadist operations, and opaque weapons trade prone to “diversions” have worsened the arms trafficking crisis in the Sahel. Flows of small arms and light weapons (SALW) into various sub-state actors have maintained conflict in the Sahel. Illicit SALW trade has allowed militants to maintain a steady recruitment and operations tempo. It has also allowed the reduced opportunity and entry costs for bandit groups and violent confrontations over inter-communal issues. This culmination of factors in the Sahel has created the circumstances for illicit arms markets within countries in the Sahel. This is highly likely to worsen violence in the region.

Key Judgement 1. The reduced presence of United Nations (UN) peacekeeping forces in the Sahel is highly likely to reduce arms monitoring. As a result, greater proliferation is almost certain to occur within the next 6 months.

Key Judgement 2. Strengthened terrorist forces in countries like Mali and Burkina Faso have focused on arms depots. This indicates that they will almost certainly target larger national army depots in the next 6 months.

Key Judgement 3. It is highly likely that in the next 6 months, armed conflict in the Sahel will worsen with the influx of armaments.

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