The International Coalition against Islamic State, which met today in Morocco, pledged to continue the fight against the growing threat of jihadists in Africa and the revival of the organization in the Middle East and the rest of the world.
The ministerial meeting of the “Coalition against Daesh” (the Arabic acronym for IK) hosted in Marrakesh was attended by about 40 foreign ministers. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who will co-host the meeting with his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Burita, has been replaced by Victoria Nuland after testing positive for Covid-19.
“We have come together to share our commitment to defeat the ISIS in Iraq and Syria, across the African continent and around the world,” said Nuland, the State Department’s “No. 3.”
The participants “examined (…) the stabilization efforts in the areas where Daes previously operated” but also how to stop the propaganda and the radicalization of people.
It is the first time since 2014 that the Coalition, which includes 84 countries and international organizations (including NATO and Interpol) is meeting on African soil. The IK seems to be trying in recent years to increase its influence in Africa, especially in the Sahel region and the Gulf of Guinea. Nineteen African countries were present at the summit. Benin participated for the first time.
“Today, 27 terrorist organizations based in Africa are on the UN Security Council’s list of sanctions,” Burita said. A total of 1.4 million people were displaced in 2021 in West Africa and the Sahel due to conflicts in the region, he added.
In the Sahel, the number of “terrorist incidents” increased by 43% between 2018-21, according to US counterterrorism data.
Earlier in the day, five Egyptian soldiers and seven jihadists were killed in a new attack in the Sinai region, according to the Egyptian Armed Forces.
The United States has said it wants to spend about $ 120 million in aid to sub-Saharan Africa to “prevent, arrest, prosecute and convict terrorists”.
Although the ISIS has been defeated in Iraq and Syria, “it remains a threat, it is looking for the slightest opportunity to rebuild,” Nuland said, while Burita stressed that “the threat has not diminished.”
In January, about 100 Daesh fighters attacked a Kurdish prison in northeastern Syria, the group’s most important operation in three years. The ISIS also threatened to avenge the death of its former leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, who was killed in a US-led operation in Syria in February. He even urged his supporters to take advantage of the war in Ukraine to resume attacks in Europe.
Washington is seeking to raise $ 700 million this year ($ 350 million for Iraq and $ 350 million for Syria) to fund “stabilization” operations in areas liberated from ISIS and to help private investment.