Middle east

Warnings of Escalating Terrorism in Mali After European Troops Withdraw

After the departure of the European Union military mission, experts in African affairs and international terrorism have warned of an increase and escalation of terrorist operations in Mali, especially as the mission had been present since 2013 to train armed forces to combat extremist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

Extremists in Mali have managed to make gains despite the military efforts of foreign forces to repel them, with terrorist attacks causing thousands of deaths and displacing millions. The attacks have targeted towns, villages, and military targets across the country.

In this context, Munir Adeeb, a researcher in extremist movements and international terrorism, told “Al-Ittihad” newspaper that the withdrawal of international forces from the European Union mission in some African capitals, including Mali, comes in the context of the continent being affected by several factors, such as military coups in some countries, which led to the departure of American and French forces, significantly increasing the chances of terrorism growth.

Adeeb added that the presence of international forces in African capitals was conditioned on facing violent and extremist groups and supporting local forces to combat cross-border terrorist organizations. However, these forces were also looting the wealth of these countries, which led to some coups to free themselves from this new colonialism.

Adeeb warned of the deteriorating security situation in Mali and other African countries, especially in the Sahel and West Africa regions, noting that Mali is a poor and politically unstable country. Therefore, the “Ansar al-Islam” organization affiliated with Al-Qaeda finds a great opportunity to carry out terrorist operations there under these circumstances.

The Malian authorities announced the death of a senior leader of the ISIS organization named Abu Hudhaifa in a military operation carried out by security forces in early May 2024. Abu Hudhaifa had participated in a 2017 attack that killed 4 Americans and 4 Nigerians, and Washington had offered a $5 million reward for information on his whereabouts.

For his part, former Assistant Foreign Minister and Vice President of the Egyptian-African Council, Ambassador Dr. Salah Halima, believes there is coordination and consultation between Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger to eliminate Western presence in each of them. Thus, the withdrawal of European Union forces comes within the framework of participation among the three countries to reject the presence of international forces.

Ambassador Salah Halima explained to “Al-Ittihad” that there is currently a trend in Senegal to push for the withdrawal of French forces, as is the case in Chad. He confirmed that the withdrawal of European Union forces from Mali and other African countries is in this context, and these developments push towards a new form of alliance among Sahel countries.

Halima warned of the security vacuum in Mali resulting from the withdrawal of international forces, which would give terrorist organizations the opportunity to become active and increase their operations.

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