Though not widely seen as a major front, the African continent is increasingly becoming a target for terrorist attacks, and insurgencies led by militant Islamism.
In Nigeria, the persistent threat of Boko Haram, now apparently allied to Islamic State, led to the postponement of the nation’s scheduled presidential elections.
On the other side of the continent, Kenya suffered the second deadliest singe terrorist attack n the nation’s history, as Al Shabaab launched an attack on a University, killing 147 and injuring scores others.
Though largely under-reported, these issues are a pointer to just how much the global war on terror has become Africa’s problem as anybody else. From Kenya to Libya, Ethiopia to the nations of the Sahel, the effects of the war on terror, have started to seep into and affect the grievances of Islamic populations with the governments of the nations that they happen to live in.
Though these are not the only nations on the continent that have been drawn into the wider conflict between extremist Islamism and western liberalism, Kenya and Nigeria share more than the fact that both their armies happen to be at war with non-state actors that have taken an explicit stance in the wider war on terror.
In both these countries, rampant corruption is a major political issue that has hampered state institutions from schools, to hospitals, and the security services.
In Kenya for instance, skewing of resources, public services, and infrastructure investment based on ethnicity, and to a lesser extent religion, had already created a population of ostracized, citizens, including but not limited to ethnic Somalis, who conveniently also happened to be Muslims
And in Nigeria the divide between the primarily Muslim Northern, and Christian south of the nation has been a key driver of conflict, and indeed politics since the country’s independence. This and the continued
Is it no wonder that both nations should find that these populations wound up to be prime targets for political Islam of the kind that groups such as Al Shabaab, and Boko Haram profess?
Though in the heat of the recent spate of attacks, focus has been on the security services, and their attempts (both successful, and disastrous) to stem the mayhem, and bring perpetrators to justice, shouldn’t the indirect contribution of other issue also get some attention.
For instance, isn’t it high time we in Kenya had a real discussion of just what the Kenya army’s participation in AMISOM is about? What are the mission parameters? What is the end game? What is the exit strategy?
Though he took a bold first step in calling out a whole bevy of cabinet ministers, senior civil servants, and political leaders, will Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta’s zeal to defeat corruption still be there, if he has to ‘touch’ people close to Kenya’s anti-terrorism policies?
On the other hand, though expected to be tougher than the outgoing Goodluck Jonathan, does the rhetoric President elect Mohammadu Buhari, be able to prosecute a thorough and comprehensive effort to rid Nigeria, in the full glare of a much more liberalized media?