Special Reports

How the US is expanding its fight against extremism in Africa


The opening ceremony of an exercise organized by the US military in Ndjamena, Chad earlier this year to take on Boko Haram. Reuters/Emmanuel Braun

From the perspective of a US national security specialist, we live in a dark and gloomy world. Numerous worldwide threats exist across almost every part of the planet including China, Iran, North Korea and Russia. This typically puts Africa at the bottom of the pecking order.

But America is taking more notice of the African continent due to the expansion of extremist organisations operating in Africa like al-Qaeda, al-Shabbab, Ansar al-Sharia, al-Murabitun, Boko Haram, Islamic State (IS) and others.

The four main threats

Islamic extremist organisations operating inside Libya, Nigeria, northwest Africa and Somalia pose the largest substantial threats to the African people and their international partners like the US.

The situation in Libya, also referred to as “Somalia on the Med”, has spiralled out of control since Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in 2011. Fighters from Ansar al-Sharia, IS and others control territory and operate and train with impunity. The US strategy here is to contain the situation by supporting its allies like Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia.

The second main threat comes from Somalia and al-Shabaab. Despite a robust African Union mission supported by a host of African and international countries, the group continues to execute lethal attacks within Somalia’s borders, as well in countries like Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

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