Africa’s Sahel Becoming Breeding Ground For Terrorists

Syria Enveloping Region In Its Civil War
African Sahel Becoming Breeding Ground For Terrorists
The swath of land that stretches from Senegal in the West to Somalia in the East is known as the Sahel and in recent years is also becoming known for its link to terrorist groups, reports The Christian Science Monitor.

Although the groups from Boko Haram to Al Shabab are not large in size, they are growing in influence in the countries they inhabit. They are seizing on discontent and frustration felt among the populations beset by poverty and corruption.

“Ground conditions in and along the Sahel are troubling: There’s near anarchy in places. The number of angry youths is rising. So is radical rhetoric. Poverty and corruption, and a lack of jobs and education, are the backdrop across an unstable region.

“For those monitoring jihad in the Sahel, the West African state of Mali is considered the linchpin in the fight. An uprising in Mali last year was hijacked by Al Qaeda-linked jihadists who took sizable chunks of territory in the north. They implemented sharia, or Islamic law, and threatened to take down the government,” writes Gillian Parker.

The threat was at issue during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council in July when it called for cooperation to combat the growing threat of terrorism.

The Council issued a statement emphasizing “the importance of regional and international coordination in addressing the threat of terrorism in the Sahel region, including information sharing and close cooperation.”

One of the priorities for the international community is identifying a means to fill the vacuum and heal the wounds left open after decades of war in Mali.

“Moreover, economic and political underdevelopment in the rural countries of Sahel fuels violence and proliferation of terrorist activity in the region. Most of the international economic aid responds to immediate needs during food security crises, but does not sufficiently address structural issues,” suggests Samia Basille in the International Affairs Review.

Basille notes that the Millennium Development Goals for 2015 is deficient in addressing these issues and also does not address the deeply-rooted corruption gripping Mali and the region.

“Rebuilding Mali requires addressing the security, political, and socioeconomic needs of the entire Sahel region. It is the only way to fight the violence and terrorism that threaten the region,” concludes Basille.

Robin Wright paints a dire picture in The New York Times concerning the spread of the Syrian crisis into neighboring nations has a destabilizing impact on the entire region. She argues that “the longer Syria’s war rages on, the greater the instability and dangers for the whole region.”

“Syrians like to claim that nationalism will prevail whenever the war ends. The problem is that Syria now has multiple nationalisms. “Cleansing” is a growing problem. And guns exacerbate differences. Sectarian strife generally is now territorializing the split between Sunnis and Shiites in ways not seen in the modern Middle East,” she writes.

The longtime foreign correspondent, however, sees some light in the future if “good governance, decent services and security, fair justice, jobs and equitably shared resources, or even a common enemy” become dominant factors.




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