Why the Taliban takeover worries Africa

By AGGREY MUTAMBO

The sudden, but not entirely unexpected, takeover of the Taliban in Afghanistan may seem a distant event from Africa, but leaders and security experts are thinking of the repercussions on a continent plagued by extremist militias inspired by the Taliban and their admirers.

The Taliban, a child of the Mujahedin, entered Kabul without firing a shot after weeks of racing over provincial capitals and regained control of Afghanistan, 20 years after being toppled by a state-led coalition -United.

The immediate impact on Washington was the embarrassment and shock of the surrender of the US coalition-backed government of Ashraf Ghani, precipitating a chaotic disadvantage of the US military with shocking scenes at then-Mohamed Karzai International Airport. as Afghan civilians clung to a taxiing plane in a scramble to leave the country.

For Africa, after the evacuation of the few expatriate workers in the country, there is a real danger in the possibility that militant groups borrowing from Taliban ideology will be inspired by their “victory” as well as the imminent rise of the country. drug trafficking.

“We cannot rule out cooperation between the Taliban and groups like al-Shabaab because their ideological foundations are similar. Most current and past leaders of al-Shabaab have in fact trained in Afghanistan and in addition to being inspired, they will try to emulate what happened in Afghanistan, ”said Dr Mustafa Ali, President. of the Nairobi-based think tank, Horn International Institute for Strategic Studies. . “This poses a particular threat to the security of the region. “

Mr. Ali said East Africa that Kenya, a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, should return to the UN Security Council and insist that it label al-Shabaab a terrorist group. Nairobi has previously attempted to subject al-Shabaab to the same sanctions as the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and ISIS (Daesh), but the US and UK have vetoed it on the grounds that it could hamper access to humanitarian aid.

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Terrorists operating in the region, including Fazul Mohamed, were associated with al-Qaeda then led by Osama bin Laden, a Saudi mujahedin in Afghanistan, who at one point found refuge and lived in Sudan.

Fazul, under the leadership of al-Qaida, orchestrated on August 7, 1998, the double bombings of the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. He was then killed in Somalia and Sudan was sanctioned for harboring Laden. These sanctions were only lifted last December.

“We must not forget how we got here. In particular the attacks of al-Qaida in 1998 in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam while it benefited from a shelter in Afghanistan ”, tweeted Monday Dr. Martin Kimani, permanent representative of Kenya to the UNO. “To forget is to put aside the urgent relevance of the counterterrorism architecture established by the UN Security Council.”

Dr Kimani stressed the urgent need to place declared IS and al-Qaeda groups such as al-Shabaab under sanctions.

Some experts, however, argue that al-Shabaab has shifted from a religious extremist group to an organized economic and political organization. But isn’t that also what happened with the Taliban?

Dr Ali says countries in the Horn of Africa must view the Taliban takeover as a threat to their security because it could inspire terrorist groups.

“I hope that this time the Somali government will not say no to these efforts, because even they should look at what happened in Afghanistan and see that Somalia is at risk of being invaded by al-Shabaab,” he said in reference to Mogadishu’s resistance to severe sanctions against al-Shabaab.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, in a comment published this week in the Financial Times, suggested that Western powers may have been “bruised by their experiences in the Middle East and Afghanistan,” making them more difficult to engage. to solve security problems and their causes in Africa. He argued that Africa needs help to cope with the insurgency, including economic opportunities, not just military support.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said there would be a more “positive” administration, promising to protect mission ownership and foreign rights, and to eliminate foreign fighters and the drug trade.

But the world has been here before.

In 1996, after taking power, the group stormed a UN facility and assassinated President Najibullah Ahmedzai. In 1998, they stormed the Iranian consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif and killed an Iranian journalist and eight diplomats.

As Afghans and foreigners scrambled to flee Afghanistan, the United States on Thursday hailed Uganda, Albania, Canada, Chile and Mexico for agreeing to welcome asylum seekers in evacuation course. The United States and Uganda have denied media reports that they are in talks for Uganda to host 2,000 refugees.

Meanwhile, Kenyan tea exporters are also keeping a close watch on Kabul, as Afghanistan accounts for 30 percent of the Kenyan tea market. “It might take a hit in the short term, but if there were sanctions against Afghanistan, Kenya might not be able to export its tea,” Dr Ali noted.

At the time of going to press, there was no indication of the isolation of Kabul.

The IMF has frozen countries’ accounts and if this continues, Dr Ali says it could fuel a return to poppy cultivation and the return of the heroin trade.

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