Benin Seeks Rwandan Help as Jihadist Threat Grows

Benin Seeks Rwandan Help as Jihadist Threat Grows

Rwanda and Benin strengthen their economic and military cooperation as jihadist violence in Burkina Faso threatens to overtake the nation, and spill over to its neighbours (Photo shows President Paul Kagame with Beninese Foreign Minister Aurelien on the right).

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As the Burkinabé government continually struggles to deal with its ever increasing jihadist threat, its neighbours are growing increasingly fearful of a spillover of violence, particularly after a series of attacks on their borders. Côte d’ivoire, Ghana, Togo, and Benin are looking for ways to secure their Burkina Faso border.


Burkinabé soldiers holding portraits of fallen soldiers at a funeral for 27 soldiers which were killed in a jihadist attack in October 2022 (Photo from Vincent Bado/Reuters).

Jihadist’s presently control over 40% of Burkina Faso, and have launched repeated attacks on the Gulf nations’ borders. The different nations have taken different approaches to dealing with the crisis, as they try to prevent the violence that plagues Burkina Faso from entering their respective nations, with many of them deploying additional troops to their northern border.

Benin, however, is seeking external assistance. Since last year, Benin has been in talks with Rwanda for security assistance. However it appears the security agreement has finally been signed, as Rwandan President Paul Kagame was in Benin on April 14th and 15th. While he was there, Rwanda and Benin signed 9 different bilateral cooperation agreements. While some of them related to trade, a hot topic for discussion was the worsening security situation in Burkina Faso. Since 2021, Benin has been attacked by Burkina Faso based Jihadists 20 times.


President Kagame and President Talon pictured in Benin on April 14th (Photo from Village Urugwiro).

While the exact details of the agreement are unclear, President of Benin Patrice Talon stated they could include “supervision, coaching, training, joint deployment”. Whether or not “joint deployment” means Benin will see a Rwandan deployment, as Rwanda has done in Mozambique and the Central African Republic, remains unclear.



Originally, when negotiations were beginning last year, Beninese leadership stated any such agreement would not witness Rwandan deployment. However, as jihadist groups continue to gain ground in Burkina Faso, President Talon’s words may signal a change in policy. President Talon further stated “The Rwandan army has experience and is seasoned”.


Rwandan Peacekeepers in Mozambique (Photo from Jean Bizimana/Reuters).


“We are ready to work with Benin to prevent anything that may happen around its borders. There will be no limit to what will be accomplished together for security challenges” said President Kagame.

 

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.
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