Africa - Safe Haven and Breeding Ground for International Terrorism

Posted in Africa | 12-Jan-06 | Author: Dieter Farwick

Africa and its geopolitical neighbourhood.

The world’s attention is drawn to the current major crises in the so-called “Broader Middle East,” including the “arc of instability” from Marrakech to Bangladesh – extending to the east to North Korea as well as extending to the Caspian and Caucasus region. That people throughout the world and relevant governments focus on these crises is quite understandable but dangerous. Almost daily, we learn a lot about terrorist and extremist activities in these regions.

It might well be that the world will once more receive a wake-up call – this time from Africa. We cannot wait until the problems in Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel/Palestine have been solved. Then it might be too late to avoid a new theater of war on terrorism. By then the “cancer named terrorism” might have spread and strengthened its metastasis in the body of Africa.

Why is Africa so low on the international agenda? The flood of bad news coming from Africa – Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Congo, Eritrea etc – has created a mixture of frustration, resignation, fatalism and hopelessness in the Western world. Poor results after decades of foreign aid, news of about 30 million HIV/AIDS infected people and the millions of orphans caused by this epidemic, information about corruption and poor governance in most African states as well as ongoing intrastate and interstate conflicts caused by ethnic and religious conflicts and the fight for strategic resources dominate the headlines. Good news is hard to find: Botswana and the Republic of South Africa seem to be the only lighthouses in Central and Southern Africa.

There are initiatives from the G8, the UN, the EU, NATO and the US – to name a few – to support Africa via the African Union and bilaterally, but so far these efforts are obviously insufficient to achieve remarkable progress. Support of Africa does not mean that more money should just be poured into corrupt systems. Foreign aid should go into concrete projects tightly controlled by the donors. Foreign aid should help and enable African people to help their countries.

Time works to the advantage of international terrorism and against world security. The number of failed states – serving terrorists as safe havens – is increasing. Poor governance and poor leadership, corruption, social and economic problems create the breeding ground for terrorist organizations and their recruitment of young people. This is combined with the spreading Islamization of Africa.

Islam is a priori not equal to terrorism.

But there is always a minority within the Islamic community in favor of extremist and terrorist activities. The terrorists in Africa cooperate with those involved in organized crime. Both benefit from the richness of raw materials that they trade illegally, gaining a lot of money. Africa will gain more importance as a world supplier of crude oil, gas and strategic raw materials.

Terrorism in Africa – including piracy – is a threat to the vital interests of Africa and the rest of the world. Western governments have to devote human, intellectual, economic and financial resources to immediately start confidence building measures and to install a common early warning system enabling crisis prevention.

With this newsletter, we offer an in-depth analysis of a young German academic whose studies focus on Africa. WSN totally agrees with two of his main recommendations:

It therefore must be a key priority to Europeans and Americans alike to maintain more control over Africa’s economy and to promote border control by the African state authorities.”

“Development assistance is a necessary prerequisite for peace and freedom in Africa. It is furthermore indispensable if the West wants to win the war on hearts and minds.”