Africa is burning

Another war is raging in Africa’s Sahel region, aggravating the problems of the world’s poorest continent. The situation is very complex. There many Islamist groups in full control of areas where the various governments have little or no control. Such is the case of Mali, where the northern part, Azawad, is under control of the Azawad National Liberation Movement. The Islamist rebels have gone about systematically destroying pre-Islamic cultural treasures as well as the tombs of Sufi saints deemed un-Islamic. The magnificent city of Timbuktu and its characteristic mosques has been the focal point of international alarm as the rebels have vowed to destroy all the city’s mausoleums. The recent French intervention, with air strikes and as many as 2,500 troops on the ground, is seen by many analysts as a potential quagmire that could lead to a “new Afghanistan.” No solution seems in sight for Mali, because of the permanence of deep ethnic differences. Ethnicity has an important role in Nigeria, too, but the major threat to Nigerian stability is the emergence of the Boko Haram, a fiercely anti-Western Islamist group responsible for numerous attacks on Christians. While the group is not known to be affiliated with al-Qaeda, there is nevertheless a strong al-Qaeda presence in Somalia and in Algeria. In Somalia, al-Qaeda has strong ties with the Yemeni branch of the network and this could strengthen cooperation among terrorist groups. In Algeria the stability of the government has curbed the emergence of terrorism, but it has recently experienced terroristic spillover from Mali and Libya. Unfortunately, the inability of the army doesn’t allow for a final solution to this problem. In general, African countries suffer lack of political stability due to different ethnicity and borders designed to satisfy colonial power interests. Nowadays, terrorism can be tackled only by improving international cooperation, especially on political issues.