Daesh recent changes shows the great efforts the terrorist group made to establish its new so-called Islamic state, this time in Africa. If this second state is established, as claimed by Daesh, it will most probably be located in a region between Mali and Chad.
While the world is watching the Middle East with Afghan cities falling to Taliban, terrorist groups affiliated with Daesh and al-Qaeda are ravaging in Africa.
Daesh and terrorist groups with similar approach, Boko Haram for instance, have advanced in Africa since a decade ago and their spread has been a swift one due to issues like poverty, corrupt African governments and extremist leanings among the people. In other words, failed in the Middle East, both Daesh and al-Qaeda have made a strategic decision to set Africa as their priority.
These changes ispired Rome to host a meeting on the issue of Daesh growth in Africa. This signifies Europe’s great concern over the strategic regions in Western Africa and the region known as Sahel (in west Africa) to turn into the new Daesh territory.
Although Daesh has lost almost all its territory in Iraq and Syria, it has increased activities in Sahel (West Africa). The regions where Daesh and other groups like Boko Haram are ravaging includes a vast area from northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, central Mali, southern Al Jazeera and Niger, central Chad, southern Sudan, northern parts of South Sudan and Eritrea.
On the other hand Sahel is a key region for majority of refugees heading for Europe. It is also the route for drug trafficking, arms deal and also the road for extremist groups like Daesh.
Daesh failure in Syria and Iraq did not end the group's ambition to establish a global state only changed its location. Other terrorist groups in Africa, like Boko haram in Nigeria and al-Shebab in Somali call themselves as umbrella groups of Daesh in an effort to beenfit its title.
Daesh leader, following topple of the group in Iraq and Syria, is struggling to establish its new state in other countries. Libya was counted a proper choice due to the civil war which followed topple of former regime of Gaddafi. Rich oil fields, instability of the central government and vicinity with Europe made Libya a perfect destination for Daesh.
Several reports during 2018 and 2019 noted that al-Baghdadi had already moved the group’s headquarter to Libya ahead of failure in Iraq and Syria. Some even claimed having seen al-Baghdadi there though all reports were inaccurate. Despite the first victory in Libya including occupation of Sirt, Daesh did not last long in the African country.
Daesh made another effort to establish itself in Afghanistan and Yemen. It voiced support for Abu Sayyaf rebel group with four decades of activity in the Philippines. Abu Sayyaf is the biggest of 12 extremist groups in the Philippines. In spite of massive operations, Daesh did not make many achievements in Afghanistan and Yemen and in the Philippines it was swiftly broken apart by the country’s army.
Though, the situation was quite different in west Africa. Boko Haram had aldready made achievement in Nigeria and other countries across the region. Although al-Shebab and Boko Haram declared independence following the death of al-Baghdadi, Daesh has managed to protect its stance among the states in Africa.
Daesh is active in southern African countries through its two groups: Western parts of West Africa which includes Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Dameroon, Burinafaso and Mali and central Africa which includes Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique.”Nusrat al Islam”which is affiliated with al-Qaeda is active under the name of Daesh in central Africa.
Daesh Sinai has played the most role in relation with Daesh in Africa. Rather than some separate attacks in Nile Valley and the Red Sea coast, Daesh has never been stable outside the Sinai Desert and its reason is the military and intelligence power of Egypt and Israeli regime.
Daesh-affilated groups are facing weak central governments. Except for Nigeria, these countries have inexperienced weak armies. On the other hand these militaries suffer from lack of army equipments and maintainance and are mainly harrassed with political controversy among their politicians.
Chad, Nigeria and Niger are the hub of Daesh activities and they have seized more than 10 military bases during the past two years. Some of them were nothing more than defenseless checkpoints some others brought them great amounts of arms.
This stands for the great effort Daesh has put to reestablish its so-called Islamic state, this time in Africa. If a new state is established, as claimed by Daesh, it will be established in Africa it will most probably be in a region between Mali and Chad. France and the US will make the most important foreign forces to counter Daesh terrorists, the former due to its close ties with regional governments which are the results of colonial years and the latter due to its efforts to prevent spread of China’s economic dominance in Africa.
In a sum the experience of Iraq and Syria shows that preventing expansion of Daesh terrorist and other groups mandates a massive international resolve and must involve all governments who have their benefits in Africa.
On the other hand povery and financial issues are the most important factors in absorption of the people to extremist groups in Africa rather than sharing the same extresmist viewpoints. In other words as far as countering poverty, illitracy and cultural issues does not happen, the black continent will continue to suffer from terrorism and extremism, be it Islamic extremism of Daesh or Christian extremism of the resistance army in Uganda or sectarian clashes in Roanda.