• Terrorism

    Terrorist organizations appear to be tightening their grip on multiple regions of Africa, despite ongoing efforts by the United States and its allies to degrade their capabilities and limit their reach. The findings, part of a new report released Tuesday from the Defense Department inspector general, come as U.S.-led efforts have been forced to adjust, and in some cases, scale back activities because of the coronavirus making its way across the continent.

  • Terrorism

    Two years after a pan-European military initiative was first proposed to help tackle the Sahel’s Islamist insurgency, the Takuba task force is finally becoming reality, as its first troops arrive amid the coronavirus pandemic, political turmoil and spreading unrest.

  • Perspective

    Though the United States may be drawing down its forces in Western Africa, France, the other foreign power operating in the Sahel, has boosted troop numbers in the region from 4,500 to 5,100. Jacob Zenn, the author, most recently, of Unmasking Boko Haram: Exploring Global Jihad in Nigeria, writes that the increase came as a response to a January meeting with the G5 Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger) that affirmed the Sahel’s top security threat is the Islamic State’s local affiliate, popularly known as the Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS), which is formally part of the Islamic State’s West African Province.

  • Hemispheric security

    Jordan Goudreau, a former Green Beret soldier linked to a foiled or bungled plot to topple Venezuela’s leader, Nicolás Maduro, has insisted on Sunday that his troops are still in operation in Venezuela after launching what he described as “a daring amphibious raid” into economically and politically troubled country. The Venezuelan government said that in a short firefight, its forces killed eight members of the incursion force, which landed on the shore from three speedboats, and detained thirteen, two of them American citizens.

  • COVID-19 & terrorism

    The European Union (EU) on Tuesday, 28 April, 194 million euros in funding to the G5 Sahel countries to strengthen their security forces. In a videoconference, EU leaders said they would favorably examine a request to cancel African debt to allow African countries to continue to combat Islamist terrorism as they are facing a new challenge in COVID-19.

  • Terrorism

    More than fifty young people were shot dead or beheaded in northern Mozambique as an Islamist insurgency gains strength. Local and national security forces, as well as foreign mercenaries hired by the government – including the notorious Wagner Force from Russia — have been unable to keep the militants in check. The insurgents began their operations in 2017, and were initially claiming to represent the region’s resident in their disputes with the central government, but earlier this month the group’s leadership announced that the group’s aim was to turn Mozambique into a Muslim “caliphate.”

  • Guyana election

    On 2 March 2020, Guyana, a small but newly oil-rich country in South America, held national elections. As of now - seven weeks later - the official results have yet to be certified, due to actions by the government party in Guyana to suppress or falsify the actual vote results. By all accounts, the opposition PPP has won the election, but the governing APNU appears determined to stay in power, and has engaged in what international, regional, and local election observers say is election fraud.

  • The Russia connection

    Social-media giants Facebook and Twitter say they have removed a number of Russia-linked fake accounts that targeted U.S. users from their operations in Ghana and Nigeria. Facebook on 12 March said the accounts it removed were in the “early stages” of building an audience on behalf of individuals in Russia, posting on topics such as black history, celebrity gossip, and fashion.

  • African security

    Western-backed efforts to counter terror groups across Africa are falling short, increasing the chances one or more affiliates of Islamic State or al-Qaida could try to carve out their own caliphate on the continent, according to the latest assessment by a top U.S. commander. The stark warning, shared with lawmakers Tuesday, builds on previous intelligence showing Africa-based groups have been growing more ambitious and more capable, with some increasingly bent on targeting the West.

  • African security

    Western-backed efforts to counter terror groups across Africa are falling short, increasing the chances one or more affiliates of Islamic State or al-Qaida could try to carve out their own caliphate on the continent, according to the latest assessment by a top U.S. commander. The stark warning, shared with lawmakers Tuesday, builds on previous intelligence showing Africa-based groups have been growing more ambitious and more capable, with some increasingly bent on targeting the West.

  • Guyana

    The Supreme Court of Guyana on Sunday issued an injunction against the government-controlled Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), blocking its declaration of fraudulent results for the 2 March national election. After the opposition PPP amassed winning margins in most of the country, the tallying of the results of Region 4- Georgetown was suddenly “shut down” and a mysterious “spreadsheet” – adding 25,000 fraudulent votes - was read-out by appointees of the governing APNU party. The U.S., U.K., EU, and International Observers denounced the APNU spreadsheet as a clear “fraud” which substantially inflated ANPU votes to make-up for a loss in the election. They demand that the already-counted votes, from the remaining 400 polling sites in Region 4 – which give the PPP a victory - be tallied.

  • Perspective

    Rising authoritarianism is curtailing individual freedoms around the globe. Jon Temin and Isabel Linzer write that in an alarming development, however, the region that showed the fastest decline in political rights and civil liberties last year was West Africa, which had long been a driver of democratic gains. The warning signs have failed to spur corrective action.

  • Western hemisphere

    Tensions are rising in newly oil-rich Guyana with nearly 100 percent of the votes now reported from Monday’s national election. The governing APNU party appears to have lost to the opposition Peoples Progressive Party (PPP). International elections observers – mostly Americans – are now being menaced and threatened by APNU to leave or face arrest. Guyana’s election is being watched closely because the winner will be in control of a coming oil boom which will transform Guyana. In December Exxon began commercial exploitation of a huge 2016 oil discovery off the coast, and production is expected to grow from 52,000 barrels per day to over 750,000 by 2025.

  • Islamist separatism

    Fighting “Islamist separatism” in France, but without stigmatizing the Muslims of France: These were the two themes in a major speech given by President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, 18 February. “Islamist separatism is incompatible with freedom and equality, incompatible with the indivisibility of the Republic and the necessary unity of the nation,” Macron said, adding: “In the Republic, we cannot accept the refusal to shake a woman’s hand because she is a woman; in the Republic, we cannot accept that someone refuses to be treated or educated by someone else;… in the Republic, certificates of virginity cannot be required [as a condition for] marriage; in the Republic, one should never accept that the laws of religion are superior to the laws of the Republic. It’s that simple.”

  • African security

    The United States is starting to change its force posture in Africa, announcing it is bringing home part of an infantry brigade and replacing them with specialized military trainers. Pentagon officials described the move as “the first of many” that will impact the way the U.S. military operates on the continent, as it shifts its focus from counterterrorism to the great power competition. The shift comes as a new U.S. report warns the danger from terrorist groups in Africa is spreading and that many African forces are not ready to take on the terror threat alone.

  • African security

    U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the Pentagon does not intend to remove all its forces from Africa, amid concerns from allies that Washington could abandon the continent militarily while China and Russia “aggressively” look to increase their influence and as the extremist threat remains. Esper is carrying out a global troop review meant to find ways to free up more resources to address challenges from China’s military in Asia.

  • Perspective

    A criminal gang operating out of Turkey has fueled one of West Africa’s deadliest conflicts by smuggling in vast amounts of high-powered pump action shotguns, a study by arm control experts has found. The gangsters have smuggled thousands of the weapons into Nigeria, where they have ended up being used in the escalating violence between nomadic herders and settled farmers in the country’s north and central belts. Weapons of the same specification have also turned up in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and the Central African Republic.

  • African security

    Burkina Faso has been experiencing regular attacks led by armed terrorist groups from neighboring countries. Surrounded by six countries, it is the northern part bordering Mali and Niger – particularly the Soum province – that has been most affected. And the security situation is only getting worse. But now the country faces a new terrorist threat. Terrorist groups are also flourishing within its borders.

  • Argument

    In mid-January the leaders of France, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mauritania met to discuss how to bolster counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel region, where Islamist terrorist activity has been steadily increasing. The background for the summit meeting were reports that the United States was considering reducing its contribution to an involvement in that campaign against Islamist terrorism. “. For the people in the Sahel, a U.S. retreat would leave them even more vulnerable to future terrorist attacks. Simply put, an American withdrawal would be penny-wise, but pound-foolish,” Olivier Rémy-Bel writes.

  • African security

    U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware) last week sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper concerning the possible troop reduction or complete withdrawal from the AFRICOM area of responsibility. “Africa is a continent full of potential, and this is the wrong time to withdraw U.S. troops serving to stabilize fragile regions of the continent, the senators write.