Tackling Africa’s First Narco-State: Guinea-Bissau in West Africa

  • Colonel Stephen K Van Riper

The U.S., Europe and regional African players must tackle drug smuggling in West Africa to prevent that region from falling into chaos. Today, West Africa is a significant nexus for the illegal trafficking of oil, weapons, cigarettes, drugs and other commodities. The United States has labeled Guinea-Bissau Africa’s first narco-state and it has become the epicenter of a region where Transnational Criminal Organizations are corrupting governments and societies at an alarming rate. Their nefarious efforts, and Guinea-Bissau’s state failure, conflict with U.S. stated interests. Tackling corruption, neutralizing spoilers, and increasing the societies’ culture of lawfulness are necessary steps to save West Africa. This will be challenging in Guinea-Bissau due to geography, culture, government structure, and a corrupted military. But with the right adjustments to resources, authorities and priorities, it can be done.