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ISIS in Africa: Pain Killers Won’t Work!

ISIS in Africa: Pain Killers Won’t Work!

Saturday, 17 April, 2021 - 11:30

No movement or group in history had indeed seen an alliance against it like that which faced ISIS, and here I am referring to the military, ideological, and the popular international coalition against. It is also that the group has died here or there, but it still exists, as an ideology and a force, swiftly seeking to rebuild its organizational structure wherever it gets the chance.

Despite the international security and intelligence cooperation, ISIS will continue to present a challenge to international will so long as the causes, incentives, and motives for this ideology’s emergence are not uprooted, not to mention its exploitation, through attempts at shifting balances of power in conflicts between foreign parties and states, as has happened in Syria and Libya. Distancing ourselves from simplification, we say that the issue here is bigger than the theories presented because the conflict is primarily intellectual. This means that the group may fall ill or become weak and debilitated at times, but it does not die or vanish. In other words, ISIS may disappear from the scene, and this has already happened. However, we won't be surprised when it emerges months or a few years later, and this is what is currently happening in some countries if we have to be honest.

Extremist groups are rejected religiously, morally, and legally, and they will remain so. But when a prominent Moroccan security official says that the African Sahel “is witnessing the rebirth of the organization (ISIS),” this is an important statement that must be considered. This is because it indicates transparency, seriousness and that the facts on the ground are being conveyed as it is, not as it should be. In an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya, Haboub Cherkaoui, director of Morocco’s Bureau Central des Investigations Judiciaires, said: “The threat posed to Morocco is in the return of militants from Syria, Iraq, Libya and those who have conducted lone-wolf operations, as well as the spread of extremist groups and weapons.” This means that the group seeks to establish a “foothold” in those areas.

Cherkaoui also revealed that the cell in Oujda has close ties with the leader of ISIS in the Sahel, Abu Al-Walid al-Sahrawi, who is associated with the Polisario Front. Morocco had cut diplomatic ties with Iran after the Lebanese Hezbollah provided logistical and military support to the Front.

The issue of the group’s attempts to mount a comeback is bothersome and worrisome, but it seems that things are going in the direction of a calm and dubious repositioning with the support of regional states whose interests this serves. What is bizarre is that the international community has kept quiet about the actions of states using terrorist groups to further their agendas. The presence of an encouraging environment means the activation of the organization’s activities and tools. The situation in Iraq is living proof of Iran’s harmful interference, and we may also witness a strong rejuvenation of extremist groups following the US forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan. The actions of the organization stem from a desire, conviction, and belief whose size and dimensions we are familiar with, as they base their actions on a comprehensive vision articulated in their literature, which is founded on exhausting their enemies, as well as using brutality to achieve their goals. Thus, you may not find a fundamental difference between Al Qaeda and ISIS in terms of their framework, approach, and means, even if their priorities differ.

There is nothing strange about ISIS cadres being active in Africa, as ideological loyalties are deeper and more ferocious than any other. For this reason, re-recruitment does not take much time. Reorganizing extremist groups and creating new cells is done in fragile and unstable places, especially with the availability of financing from Iran, which often gets involved, exploiting any developments.

Iran deals with the pressure being put on it through illegitimate means that go against international law. For this reason, in light of what it's facing, it found no better method to lift its isolation and ease the pressure exerted on it than by preoccupying the world and the countries of the region by breathing life into the terrorist entity ISIS, so it can carry out its thuggery and aggression.

In light of spiteful extremist rhetoric, the intersection of interests between factions is palpable as they exploit texts to serve their plans. Nonetheless, moderate Islam has faced cultural and intellectual challenges in its history, but it managed to entrench its ideas and Islam’s universality.

Still, the security solutions required, despite their importance, are nevertheless only part of the solution. Also, Arab states’ efforts in this regard remain limited, as there is a need to spread the culture of enlightenment to rip extremism from its roots by fortifying the moderate, forgiving Islam.

ISIS still breathes because of stockpiled ideas that do not disappear with the organization’s downfall. Painkillers are not the same as remedies. Temporary treatments differ from remedies that tackle the root of an illness, and the same applies to terrorism. Ideas and can only be confronted with opposing ones, thus eradicating all of the incentives for its growth.

The presence of an intellectual, political, and security vision has become required. This can be done by putting forward a comprehensive strategy based on examining religious rhetoric and a cultural, educational, and media strategy that saves Arab youths from being implicated in terrorism. On the other hand, the West, under this vision, must change its policies in the region in a manner that strengthens stability, holds the states that support terrorism accountable, and solves ongoing chronic problems, so that they do not become pretexts that can be exploited to perpetrate tensions and instability.

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