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Pages 62-86 | Published online: 27 Mar 2019
Original Article

An Effective Senegalese Military Enclave: The Armée-Nation “Rolls On”

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ABSTRACT

Senegal is viewed as one of the most stable countries in Africa. Many have hypothesized that this is a product of Senegalese culture, Sufi Islam, and/or French trusteeship. This article contends that Senegal has avoided civil wars and coup d’état due to a critical juncture in civil–military relations in 1962. This created a new path dependence of Armée-Nation ideology, allowing for the creation of a “military enclave”—a strong army in a weak state. Since then, the Senegalese Armed Forces developed bureaucratic-institutional competence that contributed to state-building and improved military effectiveness, all without being a threat to the state or society.

Acknowledgments

For comments and suggestions I am grateful to Will Reno, Bill Murphy, Dan Szarke, Marina Henke, Paul Staniland, and the two anonymous reviewers of African Security for their feedback on this article. The research, fieldwork, and interviews were ethically and properly conducted in accordance with Northwestern University IRB ID #STU00205105.

Disclosure statement

The views presented in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of the Air Force, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Department of Defense, or U.S. Government.

Notes

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2. There are numerous dates before 1982 that are used to indicate the secessionist movement; however, the rebellion formally began on December 26, 1982. For extensive background on the dynamics and grievances surrounding the Casamance Conflict, refer to Aïssatou Fall, “Understanding the Casamance Conflict: A Background,” Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Monograph 7, December 2010.

3. Nancy Annan, “Violent Conflicts and Civil Strife in West Africa: Causes, Challenges and Prospects,” Stability: International Journal of Security and Development 3, no. 1 (2014): article 3.

4. For these purposes, West Africa is defined as Benin, Burkina Faso, the island nation of Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe, and Togo.

5. “Coups d’état, 1946–2016” dataset, Center for Systemic Peace, 2018, http://www.systemicpeace.org/inscrdata.html.

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7. For instance, the 2018 Fragile States Index (FSI) categorizes Senegal as a state in the “warning” category. “Fragile States Index 2018—Annual Report,” The Fund for Peace, April 24, 2018.

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9. Iba Der Thiam and Mbaye Guèye, Atlas du Sénégal (Paris: Éditions Jeune Afrique, 2000).

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38. A report by the British Ministry of Defence incorrectly considers the 1962 December event as a military coup. Refer to Monty G. Marshall, Conflict Trends in Africa, 1946-2004, http://www.systemicpeace.org/vlibrary/ConflictTrendsAfrica2006MGMarshall.pdf.

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51. Interview with SAF Colonel and General, August 2017.

52. All SAF personnel must retire by the age of 59, except for Generals who have to retire by the age of 60.

53. Interviews, Dakar, Senegal, August 14–17, 2017.

54. “Snapshot of the 2007 Presidential Campaign in Senegal,” Libraries, University of Indiana–Bloomington, October 10, 2016, https://libraries.indiana.edu/snapshot-2007-presidential-campaign-senegal.

55. There is no publicly available data on the ethnic or religious composition of the SAF, but current SAF recruitment policies indicate that it actively strives toward a quota system of recruiting from over 20 of the identifiable groups in Senegal to include even people from the secessionist Casamance region.

56. Kristen A. Harkness, “Military Loyalty and the Failure of Democratization in Africa: How Ethnic Armies Shape the Capacity of Presidents to Defy Term Limits,” Democratization 24, no. 5 (2017): 801–18.

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61. “Cote D’Ivoire History Timeline,” World Atlas, 2018, https://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/africa/cotedivoire/citimeln.htm.

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63. Akindès Francis, The Roots of the Military-Political Crises in Côte d’Ivoire (Uppsala, Sweden: Nordic Africa Institute, 2004), 5.

64. Maggie Dwyer, Soldiers in Revolt: Army Mutinies in Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), 62 and 65.

65. Scott Straus, Making and Unmaking Nations: War, Leadership, and Genocide in Modern Africa (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015), 148.

66. In Senegal, these are the four predominat Sufi brotherhoods: Xaadir (Qādiriyya), Tijaniyyah, Mourides, and Layene.

67. Michael W. Fowler, Democratic Equilibrium: The Supply and Demand of Democracy (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015), 158.

68. Andrew Francis Clark, “Imperialism, Independence, and Islam in Senegal and Mali,” Africa Today 46, no. 3 (1999): 149–67.

69. El Hadji Samba Diallo and Catherine Lena Kelly, “Sufi Turuq and the Politics of Democratization in Senegal,” Journal of Religious and Political Practice 2, no. 2 (2016): 193–211.

71. “Senegal vs. Mali,” IndexMundi, 2018, https://www.indexmundi.com/factbook/compare/senegal.mali.

72. “Mali,” World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples, November 2017, http://minorityrights.org/country/mali/.

73. Myron J. Echenberg, Les tirailleurs sénégalais en Afrique occidentale française, 1857–1960 (Paris: Karthala, 2009).

74. The Pommersche Zeitung (July 28, 1940) reported on the resistance of African troops serving in the French military at Conde-Folie, near Amiens, lower Somme; as quoted in ANSHA, 34N/1081, Rapport du Lieutenant-Colonel Polidori, 53rd RICMS, en captivite 3 July 1940, sur les operations des 4-5-6 et 7 Juin 1940.

75. Valerie Plave Bennett, “Military Government in Mali,” The Journal of Modern African Studies 13, no. 2 (1975): 249–66.

76. William J. Foltz, From French West Africa to the Mali Federation (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1965), 189; J. Tyler Dickovick, “Legacies of Leftism: Ideology, Ethnicity and Democracy in Benin, Ghana and Mali,” Third World Quarterly 29, no. 6 (2008): 1119–37.

77. Prior to Malian independence, the first Tuareg rebellion (1916–1917), referred to as the Kaocen revolt, was against the French colonial rulers throughout North Africa. Idrissa, and Samuel Decalo, Historical Dictionary of Niger (Plymouth, UK: Scarecrow Press, 2012), 34–35.

78. Dona J. Stewart, What Is Next for Mali? The Roots of Conflict and Challenges to Stability (Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, 2013), 33.

79. “Country Profile: Mali, January 2005,” Library of Congress—Federal Research Division, 5, https://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/cs/profiles/Mali-new.pdf.

80. Field Research, Pentagon, U.S. Africa Command, and Senegal, July-August 2017.

81. Interviews, Senegal, August 2017.

82. Interview, February 2018.

83. Adam Nossiter, Eric Schmitt, and Mark Mazzetti, “French Strikes in Mali Supplant Caution of the US,” The New York Times, January 12, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/14/world/africa/french-jets-strike-deep-inside-islamist-held-mali.html?pagewanted=1.

84. Susanna D. Wing, “Mali: Politics of a Crisis,” African Affairs112, no. 448 (2013): 476–85.

85. Interview, February 2018.

86. Jonathan M. Powell, “Trading Coups for Civil War: The Strategic Logic of Tolerating Rebellion,” African Security Review 23, no. 4 (2014): 329–38.

87. Austin Merrill, “Letter from Timbuktu,” Vanity Fair, September 2007, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2007/09/sahara200709.

88. Interview, February 15, 2018.

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91. Vincent Foucher, “On the Matter (and Materiality) of the Nation: Interpreting Casamance’s Unresolved Separatist Struggle,” Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 11, no. 1 (2011): 82–103.

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93. Partners for Democratic Change, Senegal’s Armée-Nation: Lessons Learned from an Indigenous Model for. Building Peace, Stability and Effective Civil-Military Relations in West Africa (Washington, DC: Partners for Democratic Change, 2010).

94. Alexandre Marc, Neelam Verjee, and Stephen Mogaka, The Challenge of Stability and Security in West Africa (Washington, DC: World Bank Publications, 2015), 134.

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96. Wolfram Lacher, Organized Crime and Conflict in the Sahel-Sahara Region (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2012).

97. Sophia Moestrup, “The Role of Actors and Institutions: The Difficulties of Democratic Survival in Mali and Niger,” Democratization 6, no. 2 (1999): 171–186.

98. “Background Notes: West Africa,” U.S. Department of State, June 2011.

99. Interviews, 2015–2018.

100. Alain Rouvez, Michael Coco, and Jean-Paul Paddack, Disconsolate Empires: French, British and Belgian Military Involvement in Post-Colonial Sub-Saharan Africa (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1994). For a current listing of all foreign military bases on the African continent: https://www.irinnews.org/feature/2017/02/15/updated-rough-guide-foreign-military-bases-africa.

101. Interviews, August 7–11, 2017.

102. S. Mansoob Murshed, “Conflict, Civil War and Underdevelopment: An Introduction,” Journal of Peace Research 39, no. 4 (2002): 387–93.

103. The U.S. military, which is considered the most apolitical military in the world, has officers that serve as spiritual leaders in practically every religious faith, to even include Wiccans (pagan witchcraft).

104. Interview with SAF Colonel, August 9, 2017.

105. Biram Diop, “Civil-Military Relations in Senegal,” in Military Engagement: Influencing Armed Forces Worldwide to Support Democratic Transitions, edited by Dennis Blair (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2013), 236–56.

106. Diop, “Civil-Military Relations in Senegal,” 239.

107. Calestous Juma, “Building Roads in Africa? Send in the Troops,” CNN, May 23, 2013, https://www.cnn.com/2013/05/23/opinion/africa-military-infrastructure-calestous-juma/index.html.

108. It can also be spelled Ndiabot. The best way to describe Djobot is that family relations in society are applied to the army. It becomes so engrained in effective military units to the point that they name the kids after one another or fulfill family roles in their extended family. This sort of informal institution is beyond the typical “brother in arms” observed in Western armies.

109. William P. Murphy, “Military Patrimonialism and Child Soldier Clientalism in the Liberian and Sierra Leonean Civil Wars,” African Studies Review 46, no. 2 (2003): 61–87.

110. I. O. Albert, “Explaining ‘Godfatherism’ in Nigerian Politics,” African Sociological Review/Revue Africaine De Sociologie 9, no. 2 (2005): 79–105.

111. Interviews, August 2017.

112. Maurice Keen, “Brotherhood in Arms,” History 47, no. 159 (1962): 1–17.

113. Interview, August 14, 2017. Many other SAF personnel described the generation of military power in similar ways and drawings. just happened to be the best explanation of all the ones. More broadly, many Senegalese military officials stated that their effective military is a product of culture, education, and colonialism.

114. Interviews, August, 2017.

115. Christopher Coker and Helen Tyson, NATO, the Warsaw pact and Africa (New York: Springer, 1985), 232.

116. Interview, August 16, 2017.

Additional information

Funding

This article has benefited from generous funding from the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Dissertation Proposal Development program and four organizations at Northwestern University: Buffett Institute for Global Studies, Department of Political Science, Program of African Studies (PAS), and the Graduate School (TGS).

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