UK General Warns of al-Qaeda’s Sub-African Threat

Written by | Thursday, December 19th, 2013

The world should be paying more attention to the threat from al-Qaeda across sub-Saharan Africa, warned General Sir David Richards, a former head of the British armed forces, while stressing that Britain needed to learn from what it had done “and failed to do”. General Sir David Richards’ call comes as Islamist militant groups are increasingly active across sub-Saharan Africa – from Mauritania in the west to Somalia in the east – with Western countries, especially France and the US working with local security forces to deal with this threat. The countries of North and West Africa have become embroiled in a new war with no front line that waged by violent Islamist militants.
In the past year Islamist groups have stepped up their activities in several African countries. “I do worry very much that sub-Saharan Africa is the next front – in many ways it already is,” General Sir Richards pointed out and added that “Despite signs of growth elsewhere in Africa, the militants’ actions had caused widespread disruption and held back the region’s economies”. While the African Union troops have been battling with the militant al-Shabab in Somalia, French troops spear-headed the response to Islamist insurgents in Mali. The former chief of the defence staff also questioned if the NATO operation in Libya two years ago was the right thing to do, because it may have contributed to have helped the proliferation of arms in the wider region. According to him, while the campaign was a tactical success, only the future will show if it was strategically wise – “We must learn from what we have done and failed to do in other parts of the world in trying to combat this risk and do it pretty quickly or it could become pretty vicious – as if it wasn’t already bad enough.”
In January, Paris sent more than 4,000 troops to Mali, where Islamist groups had seized control of much of the north of the country and had threatened to advance on the capital Bamako. Later, France has deployed 1,600 troops in Central African Republic (CAR), where sectarian violence has recently left hundreds dead. UN chief Ban Ki-moon praised France for being prepared to act in its former colony. Militants and armed radical groups have expanded and entrenched their positions throughout the Sahel and Sahara over the last decade under the umbrella of al-Qaeda in the Is-lamic Mahgreb (AQIM). They move from one country to another and operate in an area that cov-ers parts of south-west and south Libya, southern Algeria, northern Niger, north-east Mauritania and most of northern Mali.

Article Categories:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.