Africa, Europe and the world needs a global alliance against ISIL (also known as ISIS) to step up action in regions it operates in, according to Italian foreign minister Luigi Di Maio. He has called for an international task force to be set up to counter the threat posed by the spread of ISIL/ISIS-affiliated groups across the African continent. Co-chairing a recent meeting of the global coalition fighting ISIL alongside US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Di Maio said there are fears that the group can “regain strength”. He also stressed the alliance should remain on guard despite the fact the ISIL fighters had lost much of their territories in Iraq and Syria.
“With the support of the USA and many other partners, I proposed the establishment of an Africa task force to identify and stop [ISIL]-related terrorist threats on the continent,” Di Maio told reporters, standing alongside Blinken. “We must step up the action undertaken by the coalition, not by shifting our focus but by increasing the regions in which we operate – not just the Middle East but Africa.” In response, Blinken stressed that the US “strongly support[s] Italy’s initiative to make sure that the coalition against Daesh [ISIL] focuses its expertise on Africa, while keeping our eye closely on Syria and Iraq.” He also added that “with all of the reasons that we just cited, we decided this is of significant importance, and I think we heard a strong consensus today on the part of our coalition partners to do just that.”
Nigeria, the Sahel, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have recently seen ISIL affiliates gaining strength, helping to offset significant setbacks in the Middle East, where the group initially gained prominence. The coalition was also welcoming new members to the group – Central African Republic, DRC, Mauritania and Yemen – to join the 78 countries and five organisations that already belong to it – while African countries that were not initially part of the 83-member anti-ISIL coalition, including Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mozambique, had been invited to join the recent meeting. Di Maio did not give further details of what the proposed Africa task force would do but it appears likely to build on work carried out by French forces in the Sahel region since 2013.