As Kabul Falls, Buhari Says Africa is New Frontline of Global Militancy
President Muhammadu Buhari has said in an article he penned in the Financial Times of London, that with the United States pullout from Afghanistan and the subsequent fall of Kabul to the Taliban, that Africa has automatically become the new frontline of terror and global militancy.
He, stated that for Africa to defeat the growing terrorism on its soil, it would require more than the United States military aid but the entire world coming together for its sake.
Buhari, who also believed that the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, had provided some form of oxygen for insurgents to sustain their hostilities globally, reiterated that, “Africa’s fight against terror is the world’s fight.”
In the article he expressed optimism that Africa would defeat the terrorist, “one highway, one rail link — and one job — at a time.”
Coincidentally, the day the article was published, (yesterday) by the FT, was the day Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, the global hub of America’s terror war, fall to the Taliban.
His words: “Though some believe the war on terror winds down with the US departure from Afghanistan, the threat it was supposed to address burns fiercely on my continent. Africa is the new frontline of global militancy. Yet few expect the outlay expended here to be as great as in Afghanistan. The fight against terrorism begun under the George W. Bush administration was never truly global.
“Despite rising attacks across Africa in the past decade, international assistance has not followed in step. Mozambique is merely the latest African state in danger from terrorism.
“The Sahel remains vulnerable to Boko Haram, 20 years after its formation, and other radical groups. Somalia is in its second decade fighting the equally extreme al-Shabaab. Many African nations are submerged under the weight of insurgency,” he added.
Furthermore, Buhari noted that the Sahel remained vulnerable to Boko Haram, 20 years after the sect’s formation and other radical groups.
He pointed out that Somalia was in its second decade fighting the equally extreme al-Shabaab, just as many African nations have been submerged under the weight of insurgency.
“As Africans, we face our day of reckoning just as some sense the west is losing its will for the fight. It is true that some of our western allies are bruised by their Middle Eastern and Afghan experiences.
“Others face domestic pressures after the pandemic. Africa was not then, and even less now, their priority,” Buhari added.
However, he said the threat could not be ignored, saying the Covid-19 had been like oxygen for terrorism, allowing it to gain in strength while the world was preoccupied.
While calling for global action, he warned that sooner or later, the reverberations would be felt beyond Africa.
If extremist groups were able to hold territory, it could inspire disillusioned people living in the west to commit heinous acts of terror in their own countries, he stressed.
The president pointed out that the self-proclaimed caliphate of Daesh in Iraq and Syria fulfilled that propaganda function, boosting transcontinental recruitment.
“We must not complacently assume that military means alone can defeat the terrorists. If Afghanistan has taught us a lesson, it is that although sheer force can blunt terror, its removal can cause the threat to return.
“The US and its western allies cannot be expected to underpin the security of others everywhere and indefinitely. Africa has enough soldiers of our own,” he said.
The Nigerian president said more could be done in Africa to help with technical assistance, advanced weaponry, intelligence and ordinance, saying the US air strikes last month against al-Shabaab in Somalia — the first of the Biden administration — showed what could and should be done.
He, however, maintained that what Africa needed most from the US would be a comprehensive partnership to close the disparity between its economic and demographic growth.
“Despite having six of the world’s top 10 fastest-growing economies, my continent’s gross domestic product gains are insufficient to provide for burgeoning populations.
“Since the start of the US-led war on terror in 2001, Africa’s population has nearly doubled. Every day, every month, this means more unemployed or underemployed entering the labour market, far outstripping economic expansion.
“A lack of hope is the chief recruiting sergeant for the continent’s new brand of terrorism,” he added.
Additionally, he explained that, the continent needed above all, an investment in infrastructure, pointing out that transport and freight lines could spread opportunity across nation’s unequal in economic strength.
“In parts of Africa, a government’s grip on remote territories can be tenuous. Militant groups step into the void. Some even provide a form of governance, however perverse. These areas must be connected with their surroundings.
“The recent attacks in Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique illustrate the point. Their target was a vast natural gas project, part of an international investment, which extracts wealth but provides few jobs for locals.
“This fuels grievances in a poverty-stricken province. It is a landing pad for the likes of Daesh,” he added.
Buhari also justified the federal government’s ongoing railway construction to Niger Republic, saying it was in line with efforts to tackle insecurity and terrorism in the region.
He explained: “That is why we in Nigeria have begun building a train line from the southern coast through the north-east to Niger, our neighbour.
“My government has been accused of wasting money, because trade between our two nations is minimal. But that is hardly a surprise, given that there is no trade infrastructure between us.
“The train line will pay dividends in security, a prerequisite for economic growth. Some will remember that Boko Haram originated in north-eastern Nigeria, along the border with Niger. First, they agitated against a lack of opportunity.
“Then they radicalised into the terrorists we face today.”
He posited that the US already had schemes such as Power Africa, which invested in the continent’s essential energy infrastructure, saying more must be done in that regard.
Ultimately, he held that Africans needed not swords but ploughshares to defeat terror.
“Yes, we require the technological and intelligence support that our armies do not possess. Yet the boots we need on the ground are those of constructors, not the military,” he added.