October 4, 2022

IntelBrief: Burkina Faso Coup Signals Broader Fragility Throughout the Sahel

AP Photo/Kilaye Bationo

Bottom Line Up Front

  • Burkina Faso experienced its second military coup in nine months, with both junta leaders promising to combat jihadists more effectively but neither presenting a coherent strategy for achieving this objective.
  • The new junta leader, Captain Ibrahim Traore, has blamed France for jihadist advances and expressed sympathy for Russia, but Russian counterterrorism in West Africa in recent years has proven no more impressive than Russia’s underwhelming military performance in Ukraine.
  • West Africa is witnessing more democratic backsliding than at any time since the initial democratic wave rolled through the region in the 1990s, with Mali, Chad, Guinea, and Sudan also experiencing recent coups.
  • The introduction of actors like the Wagner Group is unlikely to curb jihadist violence, and infighting among leaders will only further distract from critical governance challenges.