Sunday, 25 June 2017
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Mali

The demand for cocaine in Europe has doubled over the past decade, triggering a rise in interdiction and law enforcement operations that have made it increasingly difficult for Latin American traffickers to export their product directly to the continent. To resolve this issue, smugglers have used a number of West African states as hubs to transport the drug before smuggling north to Europe, writes N.J. Watts.

The existence of weak and politically unstable states, widespread corruption, porous borders, poor law enforcement practices and capacity, existing networks for trafficking a variety of illicit substances, and a ready and inexpensive workforce have resulted in an estimated 30-35 tons of cocaine being moved through West Africa annually. Valued at $1.25 billion, this dwarfs the annual budget of a number of countries in the region and plays a direct or indirect role in political upheaval in countries such as Guinea-Bissau and Mali, contributing to the funding of extremist groups in some of the most marginalised areas of West Africa. 

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'Humpty-Dumpty' Democracy? Mali today. By James Moar

Until February this year, Mali was a poster child of African democracy. A military coup to overthrow an oligarchic president freely gave way to an elected presidential government on the French model with little to no tensions in the aftermath. And although the elections have had a global low of 21.7% voter turnout, the system functioned. At least on the surface.

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By Nehad Ismail

The most recent upheavals in West Africa including the wave of terrorist attacks in Nigeria and the military coup in Mali and the turmoil in Cote d'Ivoire in the last two years have focused attention on the fastest developing regions of
Africa.

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Some years back, when I left Niamey, the capital of Niger, and headed north on a rutted, dirt track it was as if the country disappeared on me, writes Robert Kaplan of Stratfor. There was no police, no sign of authority, nothing. Flash floods had left the road completely washed out in places, with the wheels of large trucks half-sunk in mud, drivers stuck for days on the side of the road. Here there were only Tuaregs, the "blue men" as they were called, on account of the color of their dazzling robes and the blue vegetable dye ("nila") they smeared on their bodies. The Tuaregs, a pastoral Berber people, were lords of the Sahara; it's better to have a Tuareg with you than a GPS device, went the saying of U. S. Army Special Forces with whom I was embedded.

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