The past three months have been very good for violent extremist groups in the wider areas of East Africa and the Great Lakes. And we must be afraid.
In mid-August, Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama, a militant group affiliated with the Islamic State, soon seized the strategic city of Mocimboa da Praia in Mozambique.
Reports say that government troops in the area, as was their custom, ascended to the hills and forest when the IS ally stormed the harbor. Many African armies are only brave when faced with unarmed protesting civilians. A barefoot but determined militant, this is a different story.
Southern Africa seemed immune to extremist groups like Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama, until 2017 when they began their attacks in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, feeding the anger of a neglected part of the country.
A few days ago, it was reported that US President Donald Trump had asked for a plan to withdraw US troops from Somalia. Trump ran on a platform in 2016 that promised, among other things, to bring American soldiers home from numerous places abroad. If he’s doing badly in the polls behind Democratic rival Joe Biden, he may want to use a very visible troop pull ahead of the November 4 vote to improve his election luck.
It is believed that the US has no more than 800 troops in Somalia, but where their presence is important is the air surveillance and air bombardment of Al Shabaab, who was a critical supporter of the African Union mission in Somalia (Amisom ). America’s departure would be a gift to Al Shabaab.
The Amisom mission is becoming even more shaky as it is limited in cash, and that the donors, their economies plagued by Covid-19, are unlikely to increase large budgets any time soon. Kenya has also lost its appetite for the Somali adventure, and has one foot outside the Amisom door.
Last week, news began that more than 1,300 inmates in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo-Beni city had escaped from prison after suspected Islamic rebels attacked the prison. Officials said it was the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan rebel group that moved the store to the DRC after being kicked out of its base more than ten years ago.
Events could be on the way from the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, from Somalia, a short jump through northern Ethiopia to the fragile Sudan, and already extremist Chad, Niger or Northern Nigeria, Mali or Burkina Faso and ‘ A Guinea that is faltering in Alpha Condé’s grip on power, these ‘Islamic’ militants are capable of carving a path to the Atlantic Ocean in West Africa.
And in southern Africa, only a debt-ridden Zambia is in their way of creating another passage from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean in Central Africa.
If the inefficiency of the states in the path of the militants, the economic weakening exacerbated by the pandemic and corruption all continue, it will be in a very happy place for another three to five years – and it will be hell. for everyone in between. Hate them, yes, but it’s clear they’re extremists with a plan.