Although West Africa and the Sahel have seen a surge in terrorist activity over the last decade, this article from Foreign Policy argues that the problem is likely to get worse soon as terrorist groups spill out of Burkina Faso, where more than 150,000 people were displaced primarily by jihadi groups in February, and where upcoming regional elections present an opportunity for violence: "In the coming weeks, West Africa’s terrorist groups are set to encroach further into Togo, Benin, and Ghana. This year’s presidential elections and their associated impact in Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Togo may create further tensions for terrorist groups to exploit. ... A combination of weak border security forces, the growing capabilities of terrorist groups in Burkina Faso, and an apparent interest in extending operations into neighboring countries all point to an increasing risk in Togo, Benin, and Ghana. For jihadi groups, including Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), financial incentives and prestige are attached to moving into neighboring countries. By establishing further control over parts of West Africa, they could access ports, control trade, and benefit from the funds generated. They could also attempt to gain control of the gold mining industry. ... The movement of these groups into West Africa is aided by weak border controls, experienced smugglers, trafficking networks, and local corruption. West Africa is a major transit point for drugs smuggled from South America and Asia into Europe. Other goods such as people, migrants, and weapons are also trafficked across the borders."
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