OPINION: Why U.S ‘anti-terrorism’ operations are a threat to Africa’s stability and prosperity

Adam Kungu is a Ugandan Journalist with passion for current African affairs (PHOTO/Courtesy).

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US government declared a war on terrorism, which was followed by a series of incursions by American troops into the countries of the Middle East and Africa, which, according to the White House, were a source of terrorist evil.

However, for more than 20 years, Americans have not achieved their goals. On the contrary, in the countries where the United States invaded, chaos and devastation now reigns, the usual way of peaceful life has been disrupted, and in some regions, the situation is close to a humanitarian catastrophe.

At the same time, the level of extremism, and accordingly, the terrorist threat, has increased compared to the beginning of the twenty first century.

In the countries scorched by American peacekeepers in the fight with extremists, various terrorist groups supplied with American weapons began to multiply.

It is clear from the example of Afghanistan that the American approach to combat terrorism does not work. The corrupt Afghan government, which was supported only by the American military presence, collapsed faster than the last US soldier left the Afghan soil.

A similar situation is developing in Iraq, whose statehood was destroyed by the United States in 2003. The country has been experiencing a permanent political and economic crisis for 18 years. There is nothing like the democracy for which the Americans fought to overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Instead, the whole world shuddered, looking at the atrocities committed by IS terrorists in Iraq and neighboring Syria, with the full connivance of the United States, whose military contingent was present at the time.

Terrorism flourished in US-ravaged Somalia, and ISIS emerged after the Arab Spring in Egypt and Libya, spreading across most of the African continent. The Sahel is suffocating of the terrorist threat. All this happened during the US-declared war against international terrorism.

At the same time, terrorism is actively moving from the conquered Middle East to the African region, the importance of which has grown significantly against the backdrop of growing demand for natural resources.

Now, putting this into account, as well as the unjustified statements by American officials, including Pentagon Chief Lloyd Austin, claiming massive achievements by AFRICOM in the fight against terrorism in Africa, the facts suggest to the contrary.

Billions of dollars spent and hundreds of airstrikes and ground operations have been carried out to fight terrorism, but all have not had a positive impact on the security situation on the continent.

According to Pentagon experts, the level of terrorist activity in Africa has increased by 300 percent over the past decade. The number of terrorist attacks has doubled compared to 2019.

These facts thus speak to a negative trend towards the fight against terrorism on the continent, thus rendering the overrated efforts by Washington and its Western allies unhelpful.

The Biden administration has decided to re-deploy its contingent in Somalia, turning the war-torn country into an outpost in the fight against terrorism. $2.2 billion has already been spent for the same purpose since 2009, in addition to $3.2 billion in humanitarian aid.

Since 2021, the number of targeted attacks on the leaders of the al-Shabab group has increased significantly, American instructors continue to train local armed forces and supply weapons.

According to the estimates of the US military department, the terrorist organization affiliated with Al-Qaeda does not not only lose its combat capability, but also continues offensive operations, successfully attracting new supporters to its ranks, and increases its combat potential.

American experts themselves admit that the conflict in Somalia has multifactorial causes and its solution is impossible only by military methods – political and humanitarian interaction between the conflicting parties is necessary.

Similar negative trends are observed in the Sahel Zone. The number of terrorist groups is growing, and their capabilities are increasing year by year. This is observed in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso.

The unsuccessful anti-terrorist operations of the United States and its European allies have brought the countries of the region to the brink of disaster. The lack of prospects and extremist propaganda are pushing young people into terrorism.

This is also facilitated by the growing popularity of anti-Western sentiments among the local population. Although back in 2001-2002, the number of terrorist attacks in Africa did not exceed nine.

Despite this, after the September 11 terrorist attack, Washington decided to send more than $ 1 billion to the Sahel countries to fight terrorism through various programs such as the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership.

Since 2019, the number of terrorist attacks in West Africa has more than quadrupled by 2022, according to a Pentagon report. Their number is estimated at 2,612, which even surpasses Al- Shabab in Somalia.

However, despite the fact that the White House is aware of the inconsistency of the chosen tactics of combating terrorism, it continues to increase the presence of American armed forces abroad under the pretext of fighting extremists.

This, in turn, leads to the radicalization of the population and a further increase in the terrorist threat. What then is the reason for such a persistent desire of the United States to follow a recognized ineffective way of solving the problem?

The answer is simple. The threat of terrorism is necessary for Washington to justify its military presence on the continent, the true purpose of which is, along with political and economic methods, to ensure control over the African continent, local governments and vast reserves of natural resources. Washington, through the threat of terrorism, has seized resources that rightfully belong to the African peoples.

The writer is a Ugandan Journalist with passion for current African affairs.



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