The EU is considering a $12-billion peace plan that would supply weapons to war-torn western and central Africa, known as the Sahel region. But Ibrahim Anoba – who hails from Lagos, Nigeria – says trade and economic development, including lower EU tariffs, would go a long way toward bringing peace to the area.
[T]he recruitment strategy of [al-Qaeda’s regional affiliate] – like most terror organizations – focuses on exploiting impoverished communities already estranged from their government. The low literacy levels and negative economic conditions in these communities create a fertile recruiting ground for terrorists. By exploiting underdevelopment, AQIM will eventually persuade vulnerable individuals to join their rebellion – or force them to once the terrorists have gained sufficient strength.
Most part of the Sahel is already blessed with underutilized natural resources like iron ore and promising agricultural potential – pending alternative means of water supply to areas with low rainfall, and a reduction of the EU’s protectionist agricultural tariffs. … Extending mutually beneficial trade deals is an equally good means to improve the economic situation in these countries. The EU should foster enterprise, which provides employment opportunities that give vulnerable people the means to sustain their lives without taking up arms against their governments.
(Photo credit: Jonathan Alpeyrie. This photo has been cropped. CC BY-SA 3.0.)