The Defense Department’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies, a Pentagon research institution has revealed that peace and stability have plummeted across Africa Since the United States launched its United States Africa Command operations in 2008.
The U.S. military has conducted 36 operations activities in Africa to date. The figures are high more than any other region of the world and Middle East where there is wider media coverage of its activities.
Troops scattered across Africa regularly advise, train, and partner with local forces; gather intelligence; conduct surveillance; and carry out airstrikes and ground raids. The activities are focused on countering violent extremists on the African continent.
According to its mission statement, AFRICOM “disrupts and neutralizes transnational threats” in order to “promote regional security, stability and prosperity."
However, a recent analysis by the Africa Centre shows that the deployment has not been effective in achieving the stated mission.
Pentagon report indicate that overall, militant Islamist group activity in Africa has doubled since 2012. There are now roughly 24 active militant Islamist groups operating on the continent, up from five in 2010.
A study by Africa Center indicate that 13 African countries face attacks from these groups representing 160 percent increase. The number of violent events across the continent has jumped 960 percent, from 288 in 2009 to 3,050 in 2018.
Countries like Libya where the US and NATO where instrumental in destabilising the country after ousting Mummar Gaddafi shows where the suspicions stem from.
“The sharp increase in terrorist incidents in Africa underscores the fact that the Pentagon’s overly militarized approach to the problem has been a dismal failure. If anything, attempting to eradicate terrorism by force may be exacerbating the problem, provoking a terrorist backlash and serving as a recruiting tool for extremist groups, ” cited William Hartung, Director of arms and security project at Center for International Policy.
His views are reflected in how groups like Boko Haram act. Extremists groups are emerge out of a hatred of the West and it's bully politics. Boko Haram is translated into "Western education as a sin." This makes the presence of an American army further justifies the doctrine of the group.
In Somalia, where the militant group al-Shabaab is strongest, AFRICOM has conducted hundreds of airstrikes and commando missions. It claims an enemy body count of approximately 800 terrorists. The number of U.S. air attacks has skyrocketed of late, jumping from 14 under President Barack Obama in 2016 to 47 under the Trump administration last year.
However, the Pentagon analysis found that violent episodes involving the Shabab represent roughly 50 percent of all militant Islamist group activity in Africa. It has maintained that the rate has remained consistent over the past decade.
In October 2017, members of the Islamic State in the Great Sahara ambushed American troops near the border of the Sahelian states of Mali and Niger, killing four U.S. soldiers and wounding two others. Just after the attack, AFRICOM claimed the troops were providing advice and assistance to local partners. But it was later revealed that American commandos operating alongside a Nigerian force had until poor weather intervened hoped to link up with another contingent of U.S. special operators trying to kill or capture Islamic State leader Doundoun Cheffou.
These AFRICOM efforts have not deterred the Islamist within the region, and they seem to be growing stronger despite the missions against them.
The Africa Centre Analysis reveals that violent episodes linked to groups associated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb AQIM and ISGS increased from 192 in 2017 to 464 last year. At the same time fatalities linked to these groups doubled from 529 to 1,112.
The report published in 2000 by the US Army makes no mention of the existence of Islamist militia groups. The report notes existence of internal separatist or rebel movements in weak states as well as militias and warlord armies.
Meanwhile, Africa Center has recorded 24 active militant Islamist groups on the continent while other official tallies have in recent years put the figure at nearly 50 terrorist organizations and illicit groups.
The US presence in the Middle East is that it cannot be a champion of stability. Small marginal gains and successful operations are touted in the media as it wins against terrorists, yet the people in the region are left with a trail of Islamist.
Recently, US has released recruitment videos of Islamist to justify their cause.
Header Image Credit: AP