Though some believe the war on terror winds down with the US departure from Afghanistan, the threat it was supposed to address burns fiercely on my continent. Africa is the new frontline of global militancy. Yet few expect the outlay expended here to be as great as in Afghanistan. The fight against terrorism begun under the George W Bush administration was never truly global.
Despite rising attacks across Africa in the past decade, international assistance has not followed in step. Mozambique is merely the latest African state in danger from terrorism. The Sahel remains vulnerable to Boko Haram, 20 years after its formation, and other radical groups. Somalia is in its second decade fighting the equally extreme al-Shabaab. Many African nations are submerged under the weight of insurgency.
As Africans, we face our day of reckoning just as some sense the west is losing its will for the fight. It is true that some of our western allies are bruised by their Middle Eastern and Afghan experiences. Others face domestic pressures after the pandemic. Africa was not then, and even less now, their priority. But the threat cannot be ignored. Covid-19 has been like oxygen for terrorism, allowing it to gain in strength while the world was preoccupied. Sooner or later, the reverberations will be felt beyond Africa. If extremist groups are able to hold territory, it can inspire disillusioned people living in the west to commit heinous acts of terror in their own countries. The self-proclaimed caliphate of Daesh in Iraq and Syria fulfilled that propaganda function, boosting transcontinental recruitment.
We must not complacently assume that military means alone can defeat the terrorists. If Afghanistan has taught us a lesson, it is that although sheer force can blunt terror, its removal can cause the threat to return.
The US and its western allies cannot be expected to underpin the security of others everywhere and indefinitely. Africa has enough soldiers of our own. However, more can be done to help with technical assistance, advanced weaponry, intelligence and ordinance. The US …