WAPSN Symposium 2018
Katharina Döring & Jens Herpolsheimer (SFB 1199, Leipzig U)
|Date||Friday, 4 May 2018 – Friday, 4 May 2018|
|Location||L’Ecole de Maintien de la Paix ‘Alioune Blondin Beye (EMP) | Bamako | Mali|
Spatial formats and security politics in the Sahel: Reconstructing the establishment of the Nouakchott Process and the G5 Sahel (Katharina Döring);
Constructing / ordering regional space(s) during conflict intervention: ECOWAS and its “partners” in Guinea-Bissau (Jens Herpolsheimer)
Spatial formats and security politics in the Sahel: Reconstructing the establishment of the Nouakchott Process and the G5 Sahel
In discussions about the rescaling of intervention efforts in Mali, from a national to a transnational or regional level, the transformation of Operation Serval to Operation Barkhane or the G5 Sahel and its Joint Force feature most prominently. Yet, such a perspective neglects that already in early 2013 the African Union Commission initiated a series of meetings that led to the establishment of the Nouakchott Process, thereby rescaling their response to the violent conflict in Mali to the “Sahelo-Saharan region”. While both the G5 Sahel and the Nouakchott Process have similar aims regarding security in the Sahel, their definition and location of the Sahel differs. Consequentially the G5 Sahel is comprised of five countries in the region, whereas the Nouakchott Process includes eleven. Most strikingly perhaps is the inclusion of Algeria – a vital stakeholder in the Malian conflict – only in the latter. This provokes questions about the politics of including certain actors and marginalizing others. This contribution will reconstruct the establishment of the Nouakchott Process and the G5 Sahel by drawing on analytical vocabulary developed from methodological advances of the so-called spatial turn. I will analyze how actors communicate their particular political projects through spatial formats and how this leads to the inclusion or marginalization of (other) actors. Subsequently, the contribution will discuss the impact of this process on the African Peace and Security Architecture as well as the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States.
Constructing / ordering regional space(s) during conflict intervention: ECOWAS and its “partners” in Guinea-Bissau
Since the mid-2000s, “tiny” and seemingly marginal Guinea-Bissau has come to questionable fame, media outlets and politicians calling it Africa’s first (and foremost) “narco-state”. As such, and even more so in the narrative framing of “narco-terrorism” (or “drug-terror nexus), US and EU policy makers have feared that Guinea-Bissau might link South American drug cartels to terrorist activities in West Africa and the Sahel. Both, they believe might pose direct threats to Western security interests. At the same time, African regional organizations, most importantly ECOWAS and the AU have been concerned over continuous “political instability” in the country, which potentially might spillover into the wider region. Surprisingly, this high level of attention in the media and by policy makers, as well as related conflict interventions by various actors in Guinea-Bissau, so far, are not reflected in academic literature. Most importantly, the reasoning of and interaction among the different regional and international actors intervening in the country have received only scant scholarly attention. Therefore, drawing on qualitative field research conducted in Addis Ababa, Abuja, Bissau, and Dakar, this paper looks at how different actors have framed conflict and interventions in Guinea-Bissau and how they have related to one another. Its main contention is that “space” has played a central role in framing conflict in the country, guiding interventions, and negotiating relations between different stakeholders. Consequently, the paper argues that in and around “Guinea-Bissau” as a place and case, different spatial imaginations have intersected, relating to different political projects that seek to construct, consolidate and order regional space(s) in and beyond West Africa.