Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Islamists promise more terrorist acts in Africa

Radical Islamists are threatening the West with more terrorist acts in Africa. An ultimatum to this effect was declared by the Al Mulatamin organization, which claimed responsibility for taking hostages in Algeria.

In a statement on Tuesday, Al Mulatamin militants said that if Western countries did not refuse a military operation in northern Mali, new terrorist acts would be staged. Al Mulatamin is said to have close links with Al Qaeda.

Earlier, militants proposed negotiations on releasing hostages captured at a huge gas facility in Algeria. Local authorities referred to the use of force, and almost 60 hostages were killed as a result.

The destabilization of the situation in Africa started with the ‘Arab Spring’, Sudan’s secession crisis and violent power transfer in Ivory Coast. Right now, the situation remains tense in Mali and Algeria, something that may affect at least five more countries in West Africa, says Moscow-based Africa expert Anatoly Savateyev.

"Mauritania may prove to be a weak link, Savateyev says, referring to Mauritanians supporting militants in Afghanistan and other areas of the Muslim world, where resistance to Western civilization is being offered. In Mauritania, Islamists are mulling the creation of a caliphate to include all the territories inhabited by if only one Muslim."

Additionally, Islamists may expand their clout in Ghana, Niger, Burkina Faso and Nigeria, Savateyev says. In Nigeria, half of the states have already imposed Sharia law, while in Niger, Al Qaeda is, in fact, in full control of Islamist groups.

Another Moscow-based Africa expert, Vladimir Kukushkin, says that most African countries may be affected by Al Qaeda’s ever-increasing clout.

"In particular, Kukushkin says, Al Qaeda’s control may spread to countries in Northern Africa and Equatorial Africa because there are no protected borders there in the full sense of the word."

At present, the destabilization zone comprises Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast, Niger, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea that are rich in oil, gas, gold, copper, diamond and uranium resources. Islamists will seek to expand their access to these resources and in this regard, they will be inspired by the example of Libya, where Islamists are actually in control of two thirds of oil revenues.

At the same time, France’s experience indicates that the West is ready to struggle for the preservation of its current access to these resources. According to Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine, it was natural resources that prompted the French President to singly begin hostilities against separatists in Mali. It is clear that the West’s resolve to uphold its economic interests in the region will, in turn, prod Islamists to issue more ultimatums. In Mali, for example, Al Mulatamin militants planned to exchange hostages for the withdrawal of French troops from this West African country.

-----Alexel Lyakhov, Konstantin Garibov/Voice of Russia
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