Stock Groups

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan could reshape counterinsurgencies in Africa, experts say


GAO (Mali) – On November 8th 2019, a Eurocopter Tiger (Eurocopter EC665TIgre) helicopter was seen at Gao (French Military Base), in northern Mali.


It Taliban’s takeover of AfghanistanThe subsequent withdrawal of Western troops was closely watched in many African capitals — and by Islamist insurgent groups on the continent. 

This is a crucial moment for governments in countries such as Somalia, Mali and Mozambique, and for those who support them with the Western powers. 

After the announcement of al-Shabab’s takeover, an outlet that is linked to Somali militant organization al-Shabab tweeted “God Is Great”. The leader of West Africa’s Jama’at Nasral Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), a jihadist group, made comparisons between U.S. withdrawals from Afghanistan and France’s plans to withdraw military forces in West Africa’s Sahel. 

French President Emmanuel Macron announced in July that the 5,000-strong troop presence in the Sahel — known as Operation Barkhane — would end in the first quarter of 2022. Macron insists that France is not abandoning its colonial past, despite putting forth a timetable for the closure of the major military operation.

In 2013, the French deployed to France in an attempt to stop the advances of jihadist group in Paris. MaliBut extremist groups still continue to wreck havoc upon civilian populations of the Sahel conflict-ridden Sahel.

Prior to the fall the Afghan government’s control, other European and American nations began withdrawing from Sahel. The World Food Programme estimates that approximately 4.6 million people were displaced from the Sahel by what UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency), has called “the UN Refugee Agency”. “intense and largely indiscriminate violenceConceived and carried out by armed actors against civilians.” 

Experts believe that Taliban victory could incite militant groups to the region and change the direction of international coordinated efforts against terrorism.

It’s a psychological boost and a local fight

Robert Besseling CEO, political risk consulting Pangea-Risk said that “the US, France, or other European powers will slowdown planned withdrawals from the Sahel area and other hotspots to insecurity and militantism and increase deployments in certain regions,” in a special report published last month.

“In the meantime, some non-traditional military partner, led by Russia and China, as well as some Middle Eastern nations, are increasing engagements on this continent.”

CNBC’s Alex Vines spoke on behalf of Chatham House about the Africa Programme. Vines said that, while the developments in Afghanistan gave a “psychological boost,” to the jihadist groups, it was difficult to measure tangible benefits due to fragmentation and regionalization of the conflict. 

Training and recruiting are the key. At this moment most jihadi groups in Africa focus on Africa. “There are not many foreign pilgrims coming into Africa from abroad,” he stated.  

Chatham House evaluated the origins and motivations for militants. Mozambique insurgent groupsVines explained that the majority of the respondents were from Tanzania, Comoros and Burundi. 

Funerals for 43 farm workers were held in Zabarmari (Nigeria) on November 29, 2020. They had been killed in their rice fields by Boko Haram rebels, November 28, 2020.

AFP via Getty Images| AFP via Getty Images

He added that “When you enter Boko Haram territory (or Mali), yes, there is North Africans involved, but it can be difficult to thread it further.” 

Vines said that Vines could suggest that international recruiters might be inspired by the increased attention to this issue due to the Taliban’s takeover. 

“I believe that there’s a lot to influence in the beginning stages of radicalization. There foreign recruiters can be very powerful and dangerous.” He added that internet still has a significant amount of toxic influence that could lead to people being placed on jihadi routes. 

Western Slowing 

Vines pointed out that, while Rwanda’s international intervention has helped Islamist insurgents to take control of Mozambique and put them on the defensive in Mozambique; U.S.-led military training efforts by the European Union have proved ineffective. 

He argued that successive coups in Mali were orchestrated by Western-trained military units. This led to power vacuums which allowed for jihadist forces in control. 

Vines explained that international organizations need to be able to hear voices from those who are directly affected by terrorist and insurgency. Vines also suggested technology as a way for victims, policymakers, government officials, and global organisations to connect. Vines stated that such a solution could be “as African-based as it is international.” 

France, under pressure from domestic politics has moved to shift its Sahel engagement away from unilateralism to a multilateral one. For example, it has establishedThe Takuba Task Force will be focusing on Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. Takuba will support regional security forces with joint operations, offer rapid response capabilities and conduct direct operations against militants. 

Pangea-Risk stated that the Task Force Takuba was a sign of “little change” to the strategy of Western military power in Africa.[It]At the expense of other social, economic, or political concerns, remains too focused on military solutions.”

KIGALI (Rwanda) – Rwandan soldiers waiting to board the plane bound for Mozambique from Kigali in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali on July 10, 2021. On Friday, the Rwandan government deployed a joint army-police force (1000 members) to Mozambique in support of efforts to restore authority to Rwanda’s troubled region.

Cyril Ndegeya/Xinhua via Getty Image

High unemployment, impunity, and corruption are just a few of the social and political problems that jihadi groups often use to recruit. 

“While the existence of additional SOF [special operation forces]The report stated that while the potential for front-line mentors to be a force multiplier in regional security forces will contribute to tactical success, this won’t address the strategic gap.”

Vines indicated that French operations would likely focus more on targeting jihadi leaders, while the U.S. will continue to be present on the continent. containment of growing Russian and Chinese influence

He stated that Russian-linked privateers entering Mali to expose multilateral and bilateral efforts for not producing anything is the last thing Americans desire.  

“These geopolitical events could well seduce the Americans into the very places they have announced they would be withdrawing from under Trump.”