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  • Africa's Sahel Region Spirals into an Extremist Hell

    A file photograph dated October 18, 2011, shows Tuareg rebel fighters moving through northern Mali on a pick-up truck with a mounted heavy machine gun, near Kidal, Mali.

    Last year, the fall of the Qadhafi regime spurred a domino-like effect across Africa’s Sahel region. When approximately 2,000 well-armed Tuareg rebels loyal to the former dictator left Libya and returned to Mali, they escalated the destabilization of the country’s north.

    At the same time the Malian military, reportedly frustrated by the government’s inadequate resourcing for the fight against the northern rebels, overthrew the democratically elected president, Amadou Toumani Toure. Approximately two weeks later, a Tuareg rebel group known as the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) declared Mali’s northern territory (referred to as Azawad) an independent state.

    Complicating the situation is the spread of criminal gangs and extremist factions seeking to expand their influence throughout the region. These include:

    • Ansar al- Din: an Islamist group that wants to impose Sharia law in Mali and is closely linked to the Algerian terrorist organization and al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
    • National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA): a Tuareg rebel group that seeks to liberate the northern towns of Gao, Kidal, and Timbuktu, known to them as Azawad.
    • Jamaat Tawhid Wal Jihad Fi Garbi Ifriqiya (The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, or MUJWA): a splinter group from AQIM that is active in Mauritania and known for conducting kidnappings.
    • Boko Haram: a Nigerian extremist sect that seeks to establish an Islamist state in Nigeria. Boko Haram has links to both AQIM and al-Shabab in Somalia.

    Despite regional governments’ longstanding concerns about the rise in Islamic extremism, the U.S. has provided relatively few resources to address the threat. Relying on the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP), a multi-year initiative instituted under the Bush Administration, the U.S. seeks to build regional counterterrorism capacity. However, considering the enormity of the region (geographically, Mali is larger than Texas) and the limited authority national governments possess within their borders, the U.S is fighting an uphill battle.

    In addition to the destabilization caused by the myriad of extremist groups, criminal gangs, and rebels, the Sahel is facing a major humanitarian crisis caused by widespread food shortages and the influx of people internally displaced by conflict. According to UNICEF, 1 million children in eight countries—Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Senegal—are at risk of severe malnutrition. Furthermore, the crisis has caused at least 320,000 Malians to flee their homes. Of these, approximately 130,000 are believed to be internally displaced, while 190,000 have fled to neighboring Niger, Burkina Faso, Algeria, and Mauritania.

    Solving this crisis will not be easy. Re-instituting a democratically elected government in Mali will take years, not months. The influx of extremist groups poses significant challenges not only to the region, but also for the United States and the international community.

    Prudence Ukwishatse contributed to this blog post.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Africa's Sahel Region Spirals into an Extremist Hell

    1. KJinAZ says:

      Obama has intentionally allowed and helped Islamic extremist around the world. It is laughable to suggest that Obama is not a Muslim. His actions or lack of in this case have proven his loyalty. The world will not have peace until the Muslims are stopped from their expansion. They want control in all nations, and we simply cannot allow this to happen. The will be the enemy in ww3.

    2. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Obama told the world once Qadhafi was removed the entire region would become a democracy. It appears the "region" was much more peaceful when Qadhafi was in power. Could it be that Obama's plan to "lead from behind" didn't work so well. Or did Obama lie through his teeth again for political gain?

      • Roger S. says:

        As always, you got that right.
        Leading from behind is not leadership! It is, however, a politician's convenient method:

        Wet one pointy. Hold it up into the wind. Then, go downwind, go with the flow.
        Lying helps a lot in this process, as it buys time until it's too late for the fooled
        and misled to counter the move.

        Is this the O'bummer method? You bet it is, but not unique to him and you may also safely bet that he
        didn't invent it. Time to vote him back to Chicago !

    3. D Goodwin says:

      I, as a former Chicago resident when "his nibs" didn't live there, am mortified that his name and Chicago are ever said in the same breath! This one man has, with the help of many others of like mind, fouled up, polluted, shamed, disgusted, and pulled this country so far out of it's original track that we are in peril of not getting back to what the founders had in mind. To get him out of Chicago you'll need to get that bunch out of office, too. I wish the voters in Chicago woud wake up and smell the coffee!!!! That was a proud city, a clean city, the City of Broad Shoulders! Get "Brother Emanuel" out of there, etc. All of them!! I see more "citizens" of Chicago running for the offices in Wa., D.C. Soon! NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN AND WOMEN TO COME TO THE AID OF THEIR COUNTRY. And, I mean 10 mins. ago!

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