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West's Military Support is 'Futile' as it 'Authored' Insecurity in Africa, Experts Say

© AFP 2023 / MOHAMED ABDIWAHABA Somali soldier stands at the scene of a car bomb attack near the Peace Hotel of the capital Mogadishu, on January 2, 2017.
A Somali soldier stands at the scene of a car bomb attack near the Peace Hotel of the capital Mogadishu, on January 2, 2017.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.02.2023
A recent study on the underlying causes of the surge in violent extremism in Africa published by UNDP has suggested that insecurity in the region is mainly driven by social instability and economic difficulties. It is also the reason for the limited success of foreign military support on the continent.
According to the study, titled "Journey to Extremism in Africa," the international community plays a significant role in the response to violent extremism on the continent.
However, it revealed that this assistance has had a limited impact, saying that although counter-terrorism initiatives achieved some initial success, terrorist groups continue to expand their presence and have a "devastating impact across much of sub-Saharan Africa."
"More than a decade of standalone security-driven approaches, with substantial military support from the US and Europe, has had limited long-term impact on security and stability in the region," the report read.
Against this background, Sputnik dug into the causes of Western support's ineffectiveness and tried to figure out whether Western aid to African nations has made sense at all.
The military support provided by the West in the fight against terrorism can't be described as successful because it is purposeless and futile without tackling the underlying causes, which are colonial injustices, resource exploitation, and external interference, says Dr. Moses Tofa, pan-Africanist and political analyst who leads the African Leadership Center's research agenda on Peace, Society and the State in Africa from its Nairobi office, in an interview with Sputnik.

"It is difficult to point [to] areas where the military support has been sustainably successful. This is mainly because it is futile to provide military support without addressing the underlying causes of insecurity in Africa such as colonial injustices, exploitation of Africa’s resources and interferences in Africa’s affairs," the analyst explains.

He underlines that the influence of these factors can't be eliminated through military interventions, saying that ironically, those countries that have provided military support to Africa "are responsible for some of the long-standing problems" on the continent. Therefore, the sincerity of this assistance is always questioned by locals.
The expert recalls that "since time immemorial," Western nations have been seeking to somehow dominate the continent and exploit its natural resources. Following the end of the colonial era, the former colonial powers failed "to address colonial related injustices," in particular, concerning the issue of the ownership and control of resources. He underscores that these "injustices" became deeply entrenched, as "Africans continue to be impoverished."
Speaking about external interference in Africa’s affairs, the analyst outlines three main objectives which the West pursues in doing so - control the continent's political and economic spheres, exploit its natural riches, and "dissuade radical economic transformation in Africa."

"The biggest dilemma is that the West, which has authored most of the enduring problems in Africa, believes that [its interference] is the answer to Africa’s problems," Tofa says.

Professor Solomon Asiimwe Muchwa, lecturer on international relations and security at Nkumba University in Kampala, Uganda, agrees that the accusations of meddling in the affairs of African countries are justified, as some Western states that have an interest in the continent's resources and do business there might get involved in the internal political processes. In saying so, he implies that this kind of interference includes "selling their arms, armaments, and all those things" with the intent to destabilize the political situation.
He also states that US and EU support has had a limited impact in terms of ensuring stability and security in Africa. He underlines that African countries are in dire need of providing their own security, which can be achieved by ensuring "good governance" with better organized and disciplined militaries.
African Union peacekeepers from Uganda provide security as Somali lawmakers arrive to cast their vote in the presidential election, at the Halane military camp in Mogadishu, Somalia Sunday, May 15, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.02.2023
Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti Discuss Common Anti-Terror Efforts
The professor highlights that most African countries don't need the West to support them militarily, as they have "the capacity to create their own militaries." He notes the recent tendency of African states to cooperate with each other to address the most glaring security issues in the region. As an example of such regional cooperation and regional arrangements, he recalls that "the East African Community has come together to fight rebels in the DRC." He compares this initiative to how "the EU and America have NATO" to ensure their security, concluding that "Africa should also do the same."

"Help in fighting terror is still needed, not only from Western countries, but even Africans themselves must come together to put up resources and organizations that can fight terror [...].If African countries don't want meddling and influence from other countries, they must put their acts together by really working out and preparing their own states so that they are independent," the professor says.

He elaborates that instead of interfering in the internal affairs of African states, foreign powers could provide technical support and military training, calling it a "good meddling." There is need for technology transfer and financing in the areas most affected by terrorism and insurgent violence.
According to the professor, fighting terrorism is a global issue that is on the world's agenda. The problem has reached such an extent that a single country can't resolve it alone. Muchwa states that interdependence is inevitable and support is much needed, however, the developed world could also help in a good way by promoting "democracy, human rights protection" and international law.
Police officers and people stand at the bomb explosion site in Mogadishu, Somalia, on November 25, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.02.2023
Unemployment & Social Unrest Drive Rise of Extremism in Africa, UNDP Says
The UN study dubbed the continent as the "global epicentre" of terrorist activity. Even though worldwide deaths from extremism have declined over the past several years, attacks in sub-Saharan Africa have more than doubled since 2016. In 2021, the region accounted for 48% of all terrorism-related deaths, with more than one-third in just four countries: Somalia, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali.
It was noted that the inability of African states to provide public goods and employment opportunities is one of the major causes and drivers of violent extremism. This has resulted in vulnerability among some people, especially the youth. To a certain extent, the experts agreed on this notion, saying that African countries are indeed responsible for the worsening security situation, as their duty is to "build societies that are inclusive and progressive."

"But instead, they create societies which are deeply exclusive, polarized and disunited, they normalize vile corruption, and institutions of the state are often weak, under-resourced, and captured by the political elite," says Dr. Tofa.

The political analyst emphasizes that this "state of affairs has forced" many ordinary citizens to turn to extremists' ideas and their pledges to provide protection and basic services. Meanwhile, trust in the government has progressively been depleted over the years, creating "fertile ground for violent extremist groups to peddle their ideologies."
Professor Muchwa also states that external powers and terrorists take advantage of situations where there is no state institution or governance, or where the state fails to provide basic services to its people.

"If there is no good governance and the state isn’t able to provide services to the people, certainly people become poor, especially the young people, the youth, and they will be vulnerable, they will be available for recruitment, as has been noted in West African countries," he says.

Dr. Moses Tofa, for his part, concludes that the absence of so-called "good governance" creates the space and opportunity for foreign forces to interfere in the continent's political and economic affairs, mainly by participating in the "scramble for Africa’s resources," and in this regard colluding with African political elites. These factors, in turn, impact the security situation, making many people, especially the youth "excluded, impoverished and hopeless."
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