Monday, August 01, 2005

Terrorism in Africa

The always interesting Jamestown Foundation has a new article on terrorism in Africa:
"It is this extra-regional dimension that is currently informing the threat perceptions of Western governments and intelligence analysts. In the United States there is a growing appreciation that terrorism in North and West Africa could pose a serious long-term threat to American national security interests. Economically, the region remains important, both with regards to oil – roughly 17 percent of Washington’s non-gulf petroleum imports come from the Central/West African basis – as well as in terms of overall trade and investment on the continent. Outbursts of extremist political violence obviously hold direct implications for ensuring the protection of these strategic energy supplies and otherwise providing a safe and stable environment in which to conduct macro-economic business. Just as importantly, the Bush Administration has become concerned that the combination of autocratic governance, economic degradation, political corruption and disregard for human rights will radicalize Islamic sentiment in West Africa and possibly avail the emergence of a new al-Qaeda front that could be used as a base from which to plan and execute future attacks on American global interests."

One thing that struck me as I was reading this was that the problem of terrorism in Africa is connected to failed and weak states, not rogue states. The one exception was probably Charles Taylor's Liberia, which was dealt with two years ago, though most of the media missed the al-Qaeda connections there. Terrorist organizations are far more likely to pick up significant funding or even weapons of mass destruction in the black market than they are from a government seeking to use them for its own ends, especially since they openly oppose almost every government on the planet.


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