Tuesday, October 06, 2020

The Islamic State Was Defeated; Long Live the Islamic State


If you haven't clued in yet, the Islamic State may have lost its caliphate in Syria and Iraq, but it is far from done. A solid comparison would be to call it a franchise, like its Al Qaeda forerunner.

As we will continue to remind everyone here, you need to keep and eye on Africa - the Islamic States more active franchise. 

Great article from Critical Threats

Maj. Gen. Dagvin Anderson, the commander of US Special Operations Command Africa, gave a sobering assessment of the increasing security threats posed by al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and their ilk in Africa in an AEI webinar on September 9 (see the video and transcript here). He warned of African al Qaeda affiliates’ growing responsiveness to their parent organization and highlighted al Qaeda’s “methodical” playbook for coercing and controlling local populations in West Africa while remaining under the US policy radar. Maj. Gen. Anderson acknowledged the US military’s small footprint in Africa and the centrality of non-military challenges in stoking Salafi-jihadi insurgencies, underscoring the need for a clear strategy and more coordination with international partners and the US interagency to combat the Salafi-jihadi threat.
The background problem is that Islamic fundamentalist organizations will take advantage of a continent soaked in poor governance, corruption, unsustainable demographics, environmental devastation, and economic systems that cannot support a modern standard of living for the surging masses.

There are islands of hope here and there in sub-Saharan Africa, but those trend lines are not outpacing the advance of the Islamic State.
The US needs a policy framework for Africa that enables prioritizing and scaling US responses to prevent local conflicts from spiraling into regional crises, as well as rolling back the crises that have already passed this threshold. US Africa Command (AFRICOM) is resource-constrained and likely to face further cuts. In any circumstance, AFRICOM should not be the sole or lead actor for a US approach to African security. The factors that underpin the Salafi-jihadi movement are political, not military. Addressing the fragility that feeds extremism requires a new holistic strategy, and preventing or reducing inflammatory proxy interventions requires both diplomatic leadership and leverage. The US needs to rethink its engagement in Africa — quickly — before the continent’s developing threats are more immediate and more difficult to address.
The USA military cannot "fix" this area of the world, only help. Ultimately, those nations will have to fix themselves. Unfortunately, many of their best and brightest are not staying and working to build a better future, but are moving to Europe and the Americas. The brain drain is a challenge no one really has good metrics on, but it is there.

That too is part of the problem - and a much harder one to fix.

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