– There is a danger that Islamists will take power in Mali, as we have seen the Taliban do. The army is constantly losing ground and the Islamists are advancing more and more in their attacks.
Baba Mahman Toure says this on the phone. The freelance journalist is based in Segou, northeast of the Malian capital, Bamako. He is concerned about developments in Mali.
– I have personally experienced how dangerous these groups are. Toure says I was kidnapped by Islamists on a trip to Gao, northeastern Mali, in November last year.
Mali is thousands of kilometers from Afghanistan. However, the situation there is causing fear in the Sahel. There are several reasons for this.
1. Token bars and data support
“I honor the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”
These words came in a statement by Malian terrorist leader Iyad Ag Ghali on August 10. He leads the Nasr al-Islam and Muslims terrorist group. It operates in Mali, Algeria, Chad, Niger and others.
That was five days before the Taliban took control of the Afghan capital, Kabul. Ag Ghali congratulated the Taliban on the withdrawal of US and Western forces. This was his first public statement since 2019.
The Malian terrorist leader swore allegiance to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
The coastal belt extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Red Sea in the east in the African continent. Here a number of terrorist organizations linked to Al-Qaeda operate.
The links between terrorist groups and al-Qaeda are perhaps the most symbolic. They help each other to a small degree in the process. However, the symbolism of having allies means that they have more influence. In a few cases, we’ve also seen operational support.
That’s what Stig Garley Hansen says. He is Professor of International Politics at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
Hansen thinks there is reason to fear that what has now happened in Afghanistan may also happen in countries such as Mozambique.
2. The spread of Islamic groups in Africa
On March 24 of this year, the Islamists besieged the city of Palma in northern Mozambique. Eyewitnesses spoke of beheaded bodies in the streets. More than 60,000 people have been displaced from their homes. The terrorist group Ansar al-Sunna, linked to the Islamic State, was behind it.
One of the challenges in Mozambique is that the local population in the countryside has not received adequate protection from the authorities. in a In some cases, there are also government forces committing atrocities against civilians. Many people live under the threat of Islamists close to them. Many have to support the Islamists to survive.
Stig Jarle Hansen also points out that the country’s soldiers are not well trained. Thus, attacks escalated in the province of Cabo Delgado, in the north of the country.
After the dissolution of the Caliphate in Syria, Islamic groups grew stronger in other countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Now seven of the ten countries with the highest terrorist threat in the world are in Africa. one appears Risk analysis of Verisk Maplecroft from last year. The threat of terrorism is greater here than on any other continent on this planet.
Different terrorist groups are fighting for resources and supporters in the same area. This leads to more attacks on civilians.
In 2015, 1,394 people were killed in such attacks on the African continent. Last year, nearly nine times as many people were killed by terrorist groups. Appears Tall for 2019 From the Armed Conflict and Event Data Project (ACLED) website.
In the fight against the Islamists, Western countries lost many of their soldiers. It has had consequences.
3. Withdrawal of Western forces
The third reason to fear that terrorist groups will gain more control is that countries like France are reducing the number of their soldiers in the Sahel. Barkhane’s force operates in Mali, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.
This came when terrorist leader Iyad Ag Ghali congratulated the Taliban movement after assuming power in Afghanistan. He compared the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan to France’s decision to reduce its military presence in West Africa.
In June, French President Emmanuel Macron said his country would abandon military efforts in the former colony. They will cut the number of soldiers in half by early next year.
The decision was made after the second military coup, which lasted nine months in Mali.
The financial newspaper Le Pays wrote that foreign forces were necessary to fight the Islamists in Mali. The newspaper urges political leaders to strengthen the country’s army.
The country’s soldiers are criticized for not being adequately trained and equipped. The question is whether they will be able to strike hard enough against the rebel groups.
– Despite the presence of foreign forces, the Islamists succeed in recruiting young people. That is why it is so frightening that France is withdrawing half of its soldiers. If the authorities do not take any action, Mali could become like Afghanistan.
This is what freelance journalist Baba Mahman Toure says. He himself was released by the Islamists who kidnapped him after three weeks of negotiations.
Will Islamist groups be able to take power in the same way as in Afghanistan, in countries such as Mali and Mozambique? The answer depends on several factors, says Professor Stig Garley Hansen.
– Many African countries have military forces that are difficult for Islamic groups to overcome. However, it is important to learn from the mistakes made in Afghanistan. Professor Stig Garley Hansen says the failures there are many and great.
in a Article on the Armed Forces Forum He questions the effectiveness of Norwegian and Allied military training in Afghanistan. He writes that over the course of two decades, Americans have built and trained some of the worst performing armies of the past 100 years in military history.
The answer to the question of whether Islamist groups can seize power in other countries is yes. This is mostly because one has not learned from what happened in Afghanistan and similar operations around the world. These are operations that the West rarely wins.
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