Terrorism is the biggest threat to world peace and security, and Africa is now facing this threat. Africa has been tormented by terrorism, with various terrorist organisations accomplishing their terror attacks all over the continent. Some prominent terrorist organisations in Africa are Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).
In addition to these terrorist organisations, various other lesser-known terrorist organisations are functioning in numerous areas of Africa. These terrorist organisations frequently carry out attacks to propagate their ideologies or political affiliations. They substantially influence the local populace and affect regional security, stability and development.
In spite of efforts by regional, national, and international forces to counter terrorism in Africa, the danger remains immense. Aspects like poverty, political unpredictability, and weak governance contribute to the spread of fanatical ideologies and the appearance of new terrorist organisations. African countries must work in tandem to contest these intrinsic issues and reinforce their capacity to counter terrorism and extremism. As India has suffered from terrorism for quite some time, India can help Africa to fight terrorism by capacity building, intelligence sharing, sharing defence & technology, etc.
Origin, Spread and Causes of Terrorism in Africa. During the 20th century, weak and corrupt colonial regimes branded opponents as ‘terrorists’ to legitimise their actions. In Africa, colonial powers labelled movements for independence as terrorists to retain their control, belittle their adversaries, and justify their dangerous punitive actions. The French establishments in Algeria, the British in Kenya during the 1950s, the Rhodesian government during the 1970s, and the South African apartheid regime are a few examples. Only recently have western nations branded the terrorism in Africa as Islamic jihadism. In 1998, truck bombs at US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, killed more than two-hundreds people and brought Al-Qaeda to the forefront of the US. Since then, and mainly after the 9/11 terror attacks, a new narrative of international jihadism has come into play. But sometimes, home-grown conflicts have nothing to do with global terrorism or religious indoctrination.
The causes of terrorism in African nations differ a great deal. The vast continent has varied cultures and languages, but some comparable factors are in play in the Sahel region. Countries like Mali, Nigeria and Burkina Faso have agonised from successive weak governments characterised by corruption, impunity, and disorganisation. Their political leaders failed to provide security to their people. Armed Forces in the Sahel often consisted of ill-trained, ill-equipped militaries. Bribery has led to voluntary troops mutinying in Nigeria. In Mali, the military and associated terrorists carried out carnages in the central and southern parts in 2018 and 2019. However, no trials of perpetrators ever took place. This lack of responsibility and fairness facilitated hostilities between national governments in the Sahel and their marginalised, unfortunate, and ignored groups.
Terrorism flourished in such a void. Internal conflicts have often been the inspiration for these fragmented terrorist organisations. The fine line between jihadism, organised crime, and local politics is often distorted and intricated by worldwide factors like climate change, population growth, and migration. The situation in Mali indicates an indistinct example of how organisational flaws, deprived authority, and feeble state security agencies have been the leading cause of the growing terrorism. Rebellions in 2012, 2020 and 2021 and times of suppression of the northern population have done more to expand terrorism in the region.
How can India help Africa fight terrorism? India and Africa share a common interest in combating terrorism and promoting regional security. India has been involved in several initiatives to help African countries fight terrorism, and there are several ways India can continue to assist in this area:
India can undoubtedly play an essential role in helping African nations fight terrorism by imparting training and capacity building, sharing intelligence, helping cybersecurity cooperation, giving development assistance, and backing multilateral cooperation initiatives.
Great power competition can have significant implications for terrorism in Africa. The US, China, and Russia compete for influence and resources in Africa, and this competition can generate conditions that facilitate terrorism. Major powers may provide arms and support to various factions in African conflicts, which can escalate the violence and provide terrorist groups with access to weapons and resources.
India and Africa have their relations embedded in history, and there are solid reasons for optimism that the partnership could be mutually beneficial. Most of the countries were under the colonial rules of the western countries; thus, they weren’t happy with the west and didn’t have much faith in Russia and China. Therefore, India has a significant role in Africa’s development. During the COVID-19 pandemic, India extended great help to many countries in Africa.
The principles of multilateralism can play a crucial role in realising a mutually beneficial relationship between India and Africa. Such cooperation will be essential in dealing with global challenges and defining solutions that offer opportunities for both Africa and India.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of Chanakya Forum. All information provided in this article including timeliness, completeness, accuracy, suitability or validity of information referenced therein, is the sole responsibility of the author. www.chanakyaforum.com does not assume any responsibility for the same.
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