Burkina Faso, a once-peaceful country in sub-Saharan Africa, shares a border with Mali—and that’s a problem. Mali has experienced incredible violence and political instability over the years, which continues to pose a significant threat to the entire region. The two countries share a long and relatively unmonitored border, allowing jihadis to conduct cross-border operations whenever they see fit.
In the last 12 to 18 months Islamist groups have regularly conducted assaults on Burkina Faso, attacking several villages, military personnel, hotels, and mines, and generally harassing and intimidating civilians until they agree to harbor them.
On Tuesday, January 15, the Burkina Faso government declared an extension of martial law as the threat within the country remains severe. Although one can certainly empathize with the people of Burkina Faso during these difficult times, an obvious question remains: What is the Burkina Faso government doing to secure its borders?
With groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda in such close proximity to their country, one would imagine the government would do whatever it could to prevent these militants from crossing the border. They sow chaos and commit senseless killings, but an age-old African problem persists: African armies are severely under-equipped, undertrained, and facing numerous military and technological disadvantages. This creates the perfect breeding ground for terrorist groups.
It’s likely that both Mali and Burkina Faso will face terrorist attacks for many years to come. America, France, and Britain are already stretched far too thin with their current operational tasks to lend their support. Burkina Faso will likely rank low on the international community’s list of countries needing assistance.
The best bet for Burkina Faso is for the country to use its natural mineral wealth to employ private contractors to train and equip their forces. By doing so, they can better prepare themselves for the years to come and, ideally, put a stop to the violence currently gripping the country.