"Global forces" need to come together in terror fight with Islamic State in Africa
New Delhi, June 12 : The ghastly terror attacks in Mozambiques Palma town on March 24, which received a rather muted response across the world, is a wake-up call for global civil society as well as the business community. According to Vision for Humanitys Global Peace Index, The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levants (ISIL) centre of gravity is now shifting to Sub-Saharan Africa with total deaths in the region increasing by 50 per cent in 2019.
Experts underlined the need for global forces to immediately come together to help Africa fight the terrorism menace. After the Palma attacks, the Mozambique Oil and Gas Chamber which strongly condemned the incident, called for the international community to come together to deal with terrorism in the region.
"Terrorism is a global problem and Mozambique must therefore not be left to deal with it alone," the chamber said in a statement.
There are visible signs that there has been a surge in ISIL's influence in Africa. In Nigeria, the heartbeat of West Africa, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (Iswap) appears to have won the final battle with its rival Boko Haram in its lair in northeast Nigeria.
The group was already on a high having vanquished in 2018, the Al Qaeda which was once the dominant force in the Sahel—the area between Sahara to the north and the Sudanian savanna to the south.
Aware of the rising tide of terror, several influential voices advocate that Africans badly need robust international support to fight the growing menace of extremism, which appears to be targeting the continent's rich resources as feedstock to bolster a second Caliphate.
"The African countries and the leaders are aware of the challenges that terrorism bring about. They are ready to do the needful and deal with the problem but they do not have the required resources to fight this alone. Countries must come together to support Africa in dealing with this challenge," Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International told India Narrative.
A report earlier published by India Narrative pointed out that the Islamic States has already acquired considerable experience in Syria of taking over oil wells and fuelling its operations by selling energy through grey-zone channels. After its displacement from West Asia, the militant outfit can now leverage that experience, and knowledge of underground networks to monetise illegal sales, in its new geographical setting.
Foreign policy watchers dealing with Africa said that the rising challenge of terrorism in the continent could reverse the emerging economic trend. The need of the hour is to jointly address the issue especially as the economic and human loss could be huge leading to drying up of investments.
Sample this. French energy major Total announced pulling out of the $24.1 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Mozambique within days of the attacks.
Sources on condition of anonymity said ONGC Videsh, which is also part of the project, too has not benefited much as work is "almost halted."
"ONGC Videsh has not withdrawn but is waiting and watching. There are very few employees at the site in any case," an insider said.
"Africa is going to be the battleground of jihad for the next 20 years and it's going to replace the Middle East," BBC quoted US State Department's coordinator for counter-terrorism, ambassador Nathan Sales as saying.
According to the World Economic Forum, African economies now offer "tremendous opportunities," especially in energy; infrastructure such as roads, railways, and ports; and agriculture, minerals, oil, and gas. But Africa must turn this potential into streams of wealth for greater prosperity on the continent, it noted.
An Africa expert said that fighting terrorism needs deep pockets and know how, which the African countries lack. "The western world must take not of this as terrorism, if left to flourish will no more be restricted to just Africa. It will once again become a global menace," he said on condition of anonymity.