Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Dr. Sanders on Al Jazeera Television: On Burkina Faso Unrest & Uganda-DRC Joint Military Actions - As Terrorist Activities in Africa Increase

Amb. Sanders on AL Jazeera (AJA) News - Interviews on Increasing Terrorist Activities in Burkina Faso & Uganda-DRC Joint Border Security Operations

AJA News - Burkina Faso Unrest & Insecurity:

Ambassador Sanders appeared on Al Jazeera (AJA) News on December 3, 2021, to talk, in general, about the continuing rise and expansion of jihadist activity in the Sahel as insecurity concerns reached a peak with massive street protests in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, over the last few months. Protesters are demanding the government improve security and the protection of civilians against the uptick of violence, murder, and human rights abuses, leading to the resignation of the country's Prime Minister, Christophe Dabire, and a care-taker government in response. Meanwhile, the insecurity driven by terrorist attacks continues unabated. 

The rash and harsh violence has been led by local militants, disaffected or jihadists-leaning groups with both support (monetary and materiel) linkages to various affiliates of Al Qaeda and its splitter groups; remnants of the Islamic State Group from Iraq and Syria (ISIS); such as the Islamic State-West Africa Providence (aka ISWAP); and possibly now fighters from Afghanistan and the Libyan conflict. As a former National Security Director for Africa, and U.S. Representative to the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), Sanders stresses in the AJA new broadcast that one cannot talk about the insecurity driven by these elements in Burkina Faso in a vacuum from the rest of the deteriorating security situation happening in the five countries of the Sahel-Group of Five (G-5) and Northern Nigeria. She notes that Al Qaeda affiliates started moving into the Sahel region as far back as 2009-2010, with the fragmentation of ISIS and later the buildup of the Islamic State-West Africa Province (ISWAP) in Nigeria.  As a result, both the level, and number of countries where jihadist groups are operating has grown three-fold not just in the Sahel Region, but elsewhere in Africa. 

Burkina Faso has become part of a continuing jihadist effort to target select countries because they understand the advantages they have when there is not a strong security or government structure or the resources (manpower as well as materiel) to combat them. In addition, these terrorist groups are strategic in building ties with local disaffected groups (over anti-Western sentiments and issues of extreme poverty, in-country regional/ethnic differences, food insecurity, & lack of development) in every country in the Sahel. These myriad of issues gives outside jihadists groups several things: power, influence, reach, and key partners to develop local strategic knowledge. They have used this framework not only to further expand in Burkina Faso, but in Mali (where there have been now for a decade, and which has had 2 coups on 12 months), Niger, northern Nigeria (at least since 2010), Chad, and other areas of Africa such as the Central African Republic, the Cabo Delgado Region of Mozambique. While in East Africa, it is Al Shabab applying the same tactics in parts of Kenya, Somalia, and Tanzania. Thus far, 2020-2021 has been the most violent years in the advancement of jihadist violence in the Sahel. Click here for link https://youtu.be/cSnTIyLUrzo or see video below:

AJA News - DRC allows Uganda Forces Hot Pursuit & Joint Operations Against Terrorists:

Similarly on the issue of jihadists-linked expansion into other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, Ambassador Sanders was later interviewed on AJA December 6, 2021, to address the recent approval by the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) regarding its decision to allow Uganda forces to initiate hot pursuit to enter DRC as well as participate in joint operations in DRC to help quell the large uptick in jihadist-related violence on the border between the two countries. Furthermore, Uganda has also blamed the recent bombings and protest in its capital Kampala, by local disaffected groups (on political, economic, and a range of quality-of-life issues), as well as terrorist organizations like the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) working with the support and sometimes direction of outside jihadists groups such as the Islamic State and any of its affiliates. 

Sanders highlighted the sensitivity of those living in Eastern DRC regarding these joint border operations with Uganda troops (despite the approval of the DRC Government) given the former's  previous behavior during the 1998-2003 conflict between Uganda and Rwanda  (mostly over Eastern DRC's rich mineral/natural resources), which played out in these same areas of Eastern Congo, resulting in high causalities for villagers and innocent civilians, along with reports of serious human rights abuses (including rape and sexual exploitation), and the conscription of child soldiers to which Uganda was fined on all in 2005 by the International Court of Justice in the Haque $USD 13 billion, which it still has not paid. 

There is substantial fear by the local population that it will be years again before Ugandan troops fully leave Eastern Congo given this new foothold proffered by the DRC government. In addition, Sanders pointed out that the Uganda-DRC border is yet the latest in the ever-increasing forays in the last couple of years, by outside jihadist groups into new areas in Sub Saharan Africa. They are applying the same strategic and tactical framework they have used in West Africa since 2009-2010 but are now applying to multiple countries throughout the Africa Region where they had not prior operated -- at least not to the extent and frequency they have in this 2020-2021 period. Hence, setting up 2022 to be similar in number of attacks, and in more and more African countries. Click link for interview https://youtu.be/gagWnWK46fk or see clip below:

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