Taliban occupation of Afghanistan could reshape counterinsurgency in Africa, experts say

GAO, Mali – A Eurocopter EC665 Tigre helicopter (L) was spotted at a French military base in Gao, northern Mali, on November 1, 2011.

By Michelle Katani / AFP Getty Images

The occupation of Afghanistan by the Taliban and the subsequent withdrawal of Western troops were closely monitored in many African capitals and by Islamist insurgent groups on the continent.

The change of power for the governments of countries such as Somalia, Mali, Mozambique and Nigeria and their supporting Western powers to fight so-called terrorism comes at a critical juncture.

“Is God is great,” he wrote after news of the capture of a media outlet linked to the Somali militant group al-Shabab. Meanwhile, the leader of the West African Jamaat Nasrallah-Islam Wal-Muslimeen (JNIM) jihadist organization has compared the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the planned withdrawal of France’s military presence in the Sahel region of West Africa.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced in July that Sahel’s 5,000-strong troop presence, known as Operation Barkhan, would end in the first quarter of 2022. Not to withdraw completely from the former colonial colony.

The French deployment began in 2013 when Paris tried to stop the advance of jihadist groups in Mali, but extremist groups continue to wreak havoc on the civilian population in the conflict-torn Sahel.

Before the fall of the Afghan government, the United States and other European countries also began to move away from Sahel and other hotspots. According to the World Food Program, the UNHCR (UNHCR) has said that about 6. million million people have been displaced in the Sahel due to “intense and widespread indiscriminate violence against civilians by armed workers.”

Now, experts suggest that the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan could inspire militant groups in the region, changing the course of internationally coordinated efforts against terrorism.

Emotional improvement, but a local battle

“The United States, France and other European powers will slow down the withdrawal of troops planned for insecurity and militancy from the Sahel region and other hotspots, and even increase deployments in some areas,” said Robert Basingel, chief executive officer of Political Risk Advisory The special report said.

“Meanwhile, non-traditional military partners, led by Russia, China and some Middle Eastern countries, are increasing engagement on the continent.”

Alex Vines, director of the Africa program at Chatham House, told CNBC that while developments in Afghanistan provide “psychological improvement” to jihadist organizations, the regionalized nature of divisions and conflicts between these militant groups make it difficult to assess profits.

“Look at training and recruitment. Most of the jihadi groups in Africa at the moment are mostly from Africa. Not too many foreign pilgrims are coming from anywhere else,” he said.

Chatham House assesses the origins of militants in the Mozambican rebel group and sees that most come from Tanzania, Comoros, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the rest of the region.

On November 2, 2020, Farm John mourns the death of a farm worker in Jabarmari, Nigeria, after he was killed by Boko Haram fighters in a paddy field near the village of Koshobe.

Adu Marte | AFP via Getty Images

“When you enter the Boko Haram area, even Mali, yes, North Africans are involved in these things, but it’s hard to thread it further.”

However, Vines suggested that drawing global attention to the issue in light of the Taliban’s occupation could be a source of online chatter and inspiration for international employers.

“Where I think there is a lot of influence in the early stages of fundamentalism, where foreign employers are very influential and very dangerous,” he said. Influence to bring people down the path of jihad. ”

Gradually withdraw to the West

Vince noted that Rwanda-led international intervention has left Mozambique’s Islamist rebels on the backfoot, and that US and European Union efforts to strengthen the Sahel states through military training have largely failed.

The Western-trained military was behind a series of coups in Mali, creating a power vacuum in parts of the country that allowed jihadist forces to take control, he argued in a recent Chatham House article.

Vines said the international community needs to listen directly to the voices of those affected by terrorism and insurgency, and through technology to connect those affected and policymakers, governments and global organizations. It could enable solutions that are “as African as they are international,” he said.

Following domestic political pressure, France has taken steps to move its involvement with the Sahel from unilateral to multilateral. It has been established, for example, The Taquba Task Force, which will focus on the border areas of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. While conducting direct operations against militant groups, Takubar aims to assist regional security forces in joint operations and provide them with the ability to respond quickly.

In its report, Pangea-Risk said the creation of the Task Force Takuba showed that there had been a “slight change” in the strategic approach to West Africa’s military power. “[It] There has been a strong focus on military solutions to a wide range of social, economic and political issues. “

Kigali, Rwanda – Rwandan troops wait to board a plane for Mozambique in the Rwandan capital Kigali on July 10, 2021. The Rwandan government on Friday began deploying a joint force of 1,000 members of the army and police in Mozambique. Restore state authority in the next volatile region.

Via Cyril Ndegea / Xinhua Getty Images

The social and political issues that jihadi groups often use to drive recruitment include high unemployment, impunity, and perceived local corruption.

“When the presence of additional SOF [special operation forces] As front-line consultants, staff will likely act as a carrier multiplier for the regional security forces, contributing to greater strategic success, not filling this strategic gap, ”the report added.

Vince suggested that French operations would probably sharpen their focus on targeting jihadist kingpins, while the U.S. presence on the continent would keep growing Russian and Chinese influence under control.

“The last thing Americans want is for Russian-linked private entities to enter Mali and show that multilateral and bilateral efforts do not produce anything,” he said.

“Those geopolitical issues could get Americans back to some of the places under Trump where they announced they were going down.”

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