Terror attacks a cause for concern

 

The recent killing of nearly 150 mostly university students by the terror group Al-Shabaab at Garissa in Kenya once again raises concerns over the continent’s security.

The Kenyan killings followed another armed attack that left more than 20 foreign tourists and others dead at a Tunisian museum.

Africa has in recent years witnessed an escalation of terror attacks and other acts of insurgency in various parts of the continent.

The African Union has described the attacks as heinous and cowardly. Observers have noted that the terror attacks on the continent require the AU to move with urgency and come up with a coordinated response.  

 The continued delay to establish an African Union Standby Force to act as the continent’s peacekeeping force is partly to blame for the present state of affairs.

The establishment of such an institution needs careful planning but there should be urgency to set it up. 

The AU Standby Force was expected to be in place in 2008 but the deadline was moved to this year while conflicts which require its attention continue to rage.  

The delay in the operationalising the AU Standby Force has given room to imperialist powers to intervene militarily on the continent under the banner of helping Africa when in fact they will be eyeing the continent’s mineral wealth and other natural resources. 

The ineffectiveness of the 7 500 strong forces deployed by the AU in Nigeria to deal with the Islamist Boko Haram group also raises questions whether only military action should be pursued in dealing with terrorism.

It also gives an opportunity for the West to have an excuse to intervene on the continent and deploy its military.

“For those who regard the elimination of foreign military operations from Africa as essential to the continent’s ongoing struggle for genuine independence and liberation, the role and capacity of the African Union in the fight against terrorism is a matter of great concern,” writes Mark Fancher in a commentary, which we reproduced in this issue, on the problem of terrorism in Africa.

One aspect that he brings up in his analysis is methods used to fight terrorism. He argues that while military action is necessary in dealing with terrorism, there are other methods to deal with the scourge.

“Although western countries have relied heavily on the use of military force in their purported war against terrorism, some experts have suggested that the root causes of the proliferation of terrorist activity will not be addressed solely by military means. 

They point to social, political and economic conditions as factors that account for the success of terrorist organizations in recruiting new members,” he writes.

These observations require Africa to broaden its methods of combating terrorism. 

While military action is one of them, there is also a need to study the root cause of the emergence of terror groups in different parts of the continent. 

Multi-faceted strategies – which take into account mediation and negotiation, diplomacy, tolerance and equal opportunities to accessing resources – are necessary.

April 2015
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