US warns military takeovers in Africa’s Sahel hamper fight against terrorism in the volatile region

Aug 25, 2023, 2:03 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States warned Friday that the string of military takeovers in Africa’s Sahel region will hamper the fight against terrorism and demanded that Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers deny safe haven to terrorist groups including al-Qaida and the Islamic State.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told a U.N. Security Council meeting that the United States is focused on the increasing terrorism threat across Africa and continues providing its African partners with “critical assistance in disrupting and degrading” IS and al-Qaida affiliates.

The long-scheduled council meeting on combating terrorism took place days after the head of Russia’s Wagner Group, Yevgeny Progozhin, and top associates were reportedly killed in a plane crash after leaving Moscow. They had just returned from Africa where Wagner mercenaries are active in now military-ruled Mali and Burkina Faso, which face escalating terrorist threats.

Thomas-Greenfield was asked after the council meeting what the West should do to stabilize the situation in those countries and others in Africa where Wagner is active, including Libya, following Prigozhin’s death and uncertainty about the future of Wagner’s African operations.

The U.S. ambassador had no comment on Prigozhin but said: “Our position on Wagner is very well known. Their actions and their activities in Africa are destabilizing, and we’ve encouraged countries in Africa to condemn their presence as well as their actions.”

In his briefing to the council, U.N. counter-terrorism chief Vladimir Voronkov reiterated that the threat from the Islamic State, also known by its Arabic acronym Daesh, constitutes “a serious threat in conflict zones and neighboring countries.”

“In parts of Africa, the continued expansion of Daesh and affiliated groups, as well as the increasing level of violence and threat, remain deeply concerning,” he said.

Voronkov said the Daesh affiliate in the Sahel “is becoming increasingly autonomous and increasing attacks” in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, where the presidential guard took the elected president and his family hostage in July.

“The confrontations between this group and an al-Qaida affiliate in the region, coupled with the uncertain situation after the coup d’etat in the Niger, present a complex and multi-faceted challenge,” Voronkov said.

In Congo, he said, attacks by terrorists and armed groups have also increased along with their continuing clashes with government forces. He said that in the country’s volatile east some 500 people have perished due to terrorist violence.

The conflict in Sudan, which began in mid-April, also renewed attention “on the presence and activity of Daesh and other terrorist groups in that country,” Voronkov said.

Beyond Africa, he said, the situation “is growing increasingly complex” in Afghanistan, with weapons and ammunition falling into the hands of terrorists. The operational capabilities of the Daesh affiliate known as ISIL-K has reportedly increased, “with the group becoming more sophisticated in its attacks against the Taliban and international targets,” he said.

Voronkov also warned that the presence of some 20 terrorist groups in Afghanistan combined with the Taliban’s repressive measures, the lack of development “and a dire humanitarian situation pose significant challenges for the region and beyond.”

Russian deputy ambassador Maria Zabolotskaya blamed “the collective West’s intervention in the affairs of sovereign developing countries” and their “destructive role” for fueling the growth of terrorism. She claimed the West plundered the natural resources of these countries and only provided weak economic development and public administration.

She said foreign troops led by the United States were in Afghanistan for over 20 years “under the pretext of fighting terrorists” but they departed without defeating al-Qaida, leaving behind a huge quantity of weapons and military equipment. “And consequently, the Western weapons that were brought into the country to fight terrorism ended up among other places in the hands of the terrorists themselves,” she said.

Zabolotskaya claimed the Islamic State appeared in Africa as a result of the NATO-backed uprising in Libya that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 and plunged the country into chaos.

And she said the size of the Islamic State group’s emergence in the Middle East was “a direct result of the aggression of the United States and their coalition against Iraq” in March 2003. While IS has largely been defeated in Iraq and Syria, she said, “pockets of terrorist activity remain in areas illegally occupied by the U.S military.”

U.N. experts said in a report circulated on Aug. 14 that the Islamic State group still commands between 5,000 and 7,000 members across its former stronghold in Syria and Iraq and its fighters pose the most serious terrorist threat in Afghanistan today. The experts monitoring sanctions against the militant group also said that during the first half of 2023 that the threat posed by IS remained “mostly high in conflict zones and low in non-conflict areas.”

United States News

FILE - Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa attends a session at the Africa Pavilion at the COP2...

Associated Press

US sanctions Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa over human rights abuses

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States on Monday sanctioned Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, its first lady and other government officials for their alleged involvement in corruption and human rights abuses. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on three entities and 11 people, including the Mnangagwas, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and retired […]

13 minutes ago

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, ...

Associated Press

Settlement in Wisconsin fake elector case offers new details on the strategy by Trump lawyers

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Two attorneys for then-President Donald Trump orchestrated a plan for fake electors to file paperwork falsely saying the Republican won Wisconsin in a strategy to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory there and in other swing states, according to a lawsuit settlement reached Monday that makes public months of texts and emails. […]

50 minutes ago

Associated Press

Florida passes bill to compensate victims of decades-old reform school abuse

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Restitution for decades of abuse at two now-shuttered reform schools where boys were beaten, raped and killed is now in the hands of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis after the Senate unanimously passed a bill Monday to set aside $20 million for victims. The bill creates a process for former inmates at […]

1 hour ago

Split panel showing file photos of the U.S. Supreme Court exterior on the left and Donald Trump on ...

Associated Press

Supreme Court overrules state efforts to keep Donald Trump off presidential primary ballots

The Supreme Court on Monday restored Donald Trump to 2024 presidential primary ballots, rejecting state attempts to hold the Republican former president accountable for the Capitol riot.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Do AI video-generators dream of San Pedro? Madonna among early adopters of AI’s next wave

Whenever Madonna sings the 1980s hit “La Isla Bonita” on her concert tour, moving images of swirling, sunset-tinted clouds play on the giant arena screens behind her. To get that ethereal look, the pop legend embraced a still-uncharted branch of generative artificial intelligence – the text-to-video tool. Type some words — say, “surreal cloud sunset” […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

North Carolina woman charged with murder in death of twin sons after father finds bodies

MURPHY, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina woman has been charged with killing her twin 4-year-old sons, whose bodies were discovered by their father when he arrived to pick them up, authorities said. The father called 911 after he arrived at the home of his wife, Genevieve Ellen Springer, on Saturday morning in Murphy, North […]

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

US warns military takeovers in Africa’s Sahel hamper fight against terrorism in the volatile region