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Radical terrorist groups expand their threat: from Kuwait City to N’djamena

 
Saturday, 01 August 2015 11:21
 
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by Lorenzo Giuseppe Siggillino (EPOS)
EPOS Insights

 

 

On June 29, 2014, the Islamic State (IS) self-proclaimed its caliphate.

After one year, in correspondence with the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, the organization called its supporters to escalate violence. On June 23, 2015, the spokesperson Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, a 38-year old Syrian whose real name is Taha Subhi Fallaha, has issued a statement calling followers to intensify attacks: «The best acts that bring you closer to God are jihad, so hurry to it and make sure to carry out the invasion this holy month and be exposed to martyrdom in it». Among the enemies, he indicated the "Western infidels" and the "Shia Muslims".

This statement was released few days after the beginning of Ramadan, raising doubts among analysts and politicians. Many wondered what had this to do with the holy month. Actually such a statement and an escalation of violent attacks was largely predictable. It is not unprecedented for Sunni terrorist groups to increase their activities in this period. The Islamic State itself, in the last three years, conducted its most important operations during Ramadan. Few days after Adnani’s declaration, the IS hit three continents with three terrorist attacks. In Europe, the Sousse attack was very discussed, as well as what happened in France, near Lyon. Both events hit directly European countries, being carried out on EU soil or causing the death of EU citizens. The third terrorist attack was the less discussed in Western countries, but there is much to say about it.

It was not the first time the Islamic State had targeted the Shia community: in fact, this has already occurred in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. But it was the first time the organization successfully hit Kuwait and its religious minority. Kuwait represents the classic example of rentier economy. It is governed by a Sunni monarchy, as other Gulf states, and Shia Muslims account for around one third of its total population. Kuwaiti exception lies not in its economy or in its Sunni-dominated governmental system, it lies in the integration of the Shia community. Shias here are perfectly included in the model, the ruling family enjoys their support. The al-Sabahs govern thanks to a cross-cutting coalition composed of Sunni merchants, the Shia minority and local tribes.

During the Arab Spring, unrests in many Gulf countries were caused by the conditions of Shias: exclusion from power and benefits, limitation of rights. This was the case for Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Bahrain. In Kuwait, instead, opposition towards the government was widespread, but it originated from existing tensions, totally disconnected from religious issues. The attack was carried out by a suicide bomber, Fahd Suleiman Abdulmohsen al-Qaba’a, at midday, Salat al-Zuhr time. In that moment 2,000 people were in the mosque, which was mainly attended by Shia Muslims: 25 deaths, 230 injured. The Kuwaiti inclusive model represents an important threat to the Islamic State. The integration of Shia Muslims represents an alternative to the hatred the terrorist group wants to spread and promote.

On June 26, the same day of IS attacks, Somali Al-Shabaab assaulted a military base close to Leego, along the road which connects Mogadishu and the city of Baidoa, in Somalia.

The base was used by AMISOM soldiers (African Union Mission in Somalia), which at the moment are around 22,000 in the whole national territory. AMISOM confirmed the attack without displaying the number of casualties. Colonel Gaspard Baratuza, Burundi Army spokesman declared 50 Burundi soldiers were killed. The Sunni terrorists had declared before Ramadan they would have escalated violence, like in 2010, when during the holy month a massive offensive was launched against the African Union Mission in Somalia. After five years the situation is not changed so much, with the Sunni extremists carrying out attacks against AU troops and Somali officers, who represent the government backed by Western states.

The Somali group, some days after the Leego assault,  attacked  also in Kenya, killing around 14 workers in a quarry in Mandera county. According to Kenyan sources, terrorists killed Christian individuals, after separating them from Muslims.

Boko Haram Nigerian militia increased its attacks as well and enlarged its reach, carrying out operations in areas which were previously considered safe. Several initiatives were undertaken in order to fight the terrorist group. In February 2015, the US organized the Flintlock military training in Chad, in order to share new technologies with the African armies committed to fight the group. In January 2015, a regional contingent composed of troops from Benin, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria was charged with fighting Boko Haram, with the permission to enter in Nigerian soil. However, this operation obtained positive and negative results: the regional army has proved effective in some circumstances, in many cases it has proved disorganisation.

Furthermore, in March national election, Buhari defeated the former President Goodluck Jonathan, who was the first incumbent in Nigerian history to lose in democratic elections. The problem represented by Boko Haram had a huge impact on the confrontation, with electors preferring Buhari, a former army general, to Jonathan, who had proved unable to fight terrorism. Notwithstanding this shift and the regional intervention, Boko Haram has not been defeated and was able to spread terror across the region during the holy month: Nigerian extremists attacked daily in Nigeria and carried out operations in Cameroon, Niger and Chad. In particular, terrorists targeted Chad, due to its major role in the African contingent.

The actions of Nigerian extremists on Chadian soil had been limited to assaults in the region close to Lake Chad. In less than a month, from June 15 to July 11, Boko Haram hit twice the Chadian capital N’Djamena, considerably extending its reach and leading national politicians to implement new security measures.

On July 20, Buhari visited Washington in order to meet Barack Obama. The new Nigerian President seeks US assistance and cooperation in the struggle against terrorism. They discussed Buhari’s agenda in defeating Nigerian terrorist group and relations between the two countries are expected to improve. Positive news but not sufficient: success can probably be achieved only if military operations are combined with policies tackling the issues of northern Nigerians.

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DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect EPOS WorldView’s

Last modified on Saturday, 01 August 2015 11:53
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