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blair23_Fred MarieArt In All Of UsCorbis via Getty Images_sahelsoldier Fred Marie/Art In All Of Us/Corbis via Getty Images

Can the Sahel’s Coming Crisis Be Averted?

The Sahel is a powder keg, and a fuse lit by extremism is burning at an accelerating pace. The world’s leaders must focus long enough to conceive the right plan and create the right mechanism to implement it.

LONDON – Some crises take us by surprise. They seem to come out of nowhere, suddenly creating upheaval and a desperate scramble to respond. Other crises are manifest, but there is no single point of eruption. The factors that fuel them intensify until the moment comes when we realize – too late – the gravity and the urgency of the situation.

The Sahel and the broader region of northern Sub-Saharan Africa is a crisis of the latter kind. We know what is coming. The warning signs are all there. The evidence is gathered. The international community has recognized the need to confront the problem. But, despite our efforts, it is obvious we must do more.

If and when the eruption comes – as it surely must without a change of policy – the consequences will include fresh waves of extremism and migration, affecting Europe and spreading further afield to America and Arabia. These waves could be even larger than those from the Middle East in the wake of Syria’s civil war and the breakdown of the Arab Spring.

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