Côte d Ivoire was traditionally perceived as one of West Africa s most stable countries. Once admired for its successful combination of economic growth and social development, the country faced a political and economic crisis, culminating on September 19, 2002 with a failed coup d état which turned into a civil war. The country was consequently split in two: the North controlled by the insurrectional forces (Forces Nouvelles) and the South controlled by the government. These two parts were separated by a buffer zone controlled by French forces, the UN (MINUCI) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Due to Côte d Ivoire s central position in West Africa the repercussions were not only limited to Côte d Ivoire, but had a significant impact on economy and politics throughout the region. Other states, or more correctly networks around and through the states, became involved in the Ivorian crisis, mainly Burkina Faso and Liberia. Many have failed to see the interest of the Burkinabe president Blaise Compaoré in this crisis, arguing that the three million Burkinabe citizens living in Côte d Ivoire and the Burkinabe economy would pay the highest price. The aim of this thesis was to explain the Burkinabe involvement in the Ivorian war.
The findings in this thesis show that the nature of the (West) African state enables transnational relations which can constitute a threat to political regimes. Regime security is hence important. Further that these transnational networks make the security of Burkina and Côte d Ivoire are so interlinked that their security problems cannot reasonably be analysed or resolved apart from one another. These states are hence a part of a Regional Security Complex. One of the reasons behind the Burkinabe involvement is hence that both states were a par of a security complex and that the collapsing Ivorian state was a threat to Burkina. The weak economic basis of Burkina might also have led its regime to seek to transnational networks in order to sustain its patrimonial practises. In addition, personal friendship, political leaders personal interest and patron-client relations were important in shaping foreign policies and international politics, and to explain why conflicts in the West Africa become regionalised.
This study underlines the importance of the interplay between the national and the regional levels when assessing security dynamics in the region, and calls hence for a regional approach to peace-building which takes into account transnational relations.