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Radical Islamism and Jihad ( 29 Sept 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Taliban’s Success in Afghanistan Has Emboldened Militant Outfits in Africa

They Hope To Establish Similar ‘Islamic Governments Based On Sharia’ In Their Respective Regions

Main Points:

1.    US withdrew its forces from Somalia in January this year.

2.    France reduced its military presence in Mali.

3.    Local security forces have not been able to contain militant groups after the withdrawal.

4.    Recent militant attacks in Nigeria and Somalia have raised security concerns in the region.

5.    Analysts have questioned the rationale of foreign military intervention to combat terrorism.


By New Age Islam Staff Writer

29 September 2021

The withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan and Taliban’s capture of power there has sent a wrong signal to the world. While the world criticizes the US for failing against the extremists and for engaging in a war that did not produce the desired result, the militant organizations that have been fighting in Africa and other regions of the world have been emboldened by the ascension of the Taliban and hope that they will also capture power in their respective regions in the same way as the US and France troops have also withdrawn from African nations Mali, Somalia and other regions of the continent.

Boko Haram of Nigeria and Sahel region, Al Shabab in Somalia Jama’at Nasr al Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) Of Mali celebrated Taliban’s coming to power in Afghanistan. They see this as vindication of their struggle to wage a global jihad for the establishment of Sharia.

The despite the presence of US and French troops in the African countries, there has been a surge of insurgency and militant activities in the region and these outfits have been a source of insecurity in the region.

The US and France have had their troops in the region with the purpose to root out militant outfit in the region and to provide training and equipment to the local forces to shift the responsibility of protecting the civilians and the area from militantism.

France has stationed its forces in Mali and broader Sahel region in 2013 under ‘Operation Serval’ (2013-2014) and ‘Operation Barkhane’. The US had its troops under AFRICOM (United States Africa Command) since 2008 to counter terrorism in the region.

Apart from the US troops under AFRICOM, AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) was also working for establishing peace and fighting insurgency in the region since 2007. AMISON was comprised of troops from African states.

But last year the US decided that it will withdraw its forces active under AFRICOM from Somalia which disappointed the local governments and questioned its timing because the external forces had strengthened local security apparatus by providing them training and equipment. However, the US withdrew their full forces (700) till January 2021.

France also reduced its military presence in Mali and other countries in Sahel region such as Chad, Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso. The withdrawal of forces from the insurgency hit continent has increased the fear of a spurt in militant activity of the terrorist groups in the region.

In 2018, the UN approved of a transition plan that was to be completed in 2021. However, this transition came coincided with the ascent of Taliban in Afghanistan when the mission of the AFRICOM and AMISOM remained unfulfilled as Boko Haram, Al Shabab and JNIM and ISIS are still active and carrying out strikes and bombings in the region.

On the contrary, they now seem emboldened by the withdrawal of the US and other external forces and have heightened their activities taking advantage of the security vaccum created by the withdrawal.

In March 2021, 300 militants attacked the town of Mogadishu killing several civilians and injuring hundreds. They took control of the town after a three day siege.

In June 2021, Somali militant outfit Al Shabab attacked a military base in Wasil town killing at least 30 soldiers.

In Nigeria’s Yobe state, militants clashed with government forces in which several militants and soldiers were killed.

In September, the ISIS launched deadly attacks on Taliban in Afghanistan.

It therefore appears that decades of external military intervention has not yielded desired results. They provided stability and security as long as they stayed in the region as was seen in Afghanistan. As soon as they left, the insurgents have sprung up back in action leaving the local security apparatus at their mercy.

Therefore, political analysts feel that foreign military intervention cannot be a viable substitute for internal security problems of militancy hit nations. The experiment in Afghanistan has shown this. In this scenario, a serious thought needs to be given by the Muslim majority nations and a long term policy to fight and curb religious extremism should be chalked out. The security vacuum created by the withdrawal of the US troops needs to be filled and attended by Muslim nations affected by the insurgency. Defence, political and religious steps should be taken jointly by Muslim majority countries and particularly by the OIC to frame future policy to fight religious extremism. Special focus of the world Muslim communities should be on curbing religious extremism in Africa, particularly in Nigeria, Chad, Somalia and Mali.

It is a matter of disappointment that Islamic countries have not shown that degree of concern and commitment towards fighting and rooting out extremism and terrorism in the African countries. They have relied on the western nations for a solution of their problems. The Organization of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) also does not have a concrete plan to curb militant Islamism in Nigeria, Somalia and Mali. They have not been able to come together and form a group that could work jointly for this purpose. The reason may be that the slogan of ‘global jihad’ and ‘Islamic government based on Shariah’ appeals a section of the ulema of these countries and they think that these groups are fighting for the establishment of Sharia. The success of Taliban has become a model for them.

Unless the militant outfits are rejected and refuted theologically and theoretically, the Islamic extremist forces will continue to hold Islam to ransom and cause bloodshed and destruction in the name of ‘global jihad’.

In this fight, both liberal and moderate Islamic political leaders and religious leaders and exegetes need to take concrete steps to invalidate the violent theology and un-Islamic goals of the militant groups active in Muslims majority countries.


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