The International Coalition Against the Islamic State (ICAIS) on Wednesday May 11, met in Marrakech, Morocco to chart ways of continuing the fight against the increasing threat of the jihadist organisation in Africa and its resurgence in the Middle East and the rest of the world.
The meeting, which was held under tight security, was attended by 40 heads of diplomatic missions from Africa, the Middle East and some western countries.
The Marrakech meeting was initially intended to be co-hosted by Nasser Bourita, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Antony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State but the American diplomatic chief tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by Victoria Nuland, the number three man in the U.S. State Department.
“We are assembled here to share engagements of assuring the sustainable defeat of the Islamic State in Irak, Syria, throughout the African continent and the world at large,” said Victoria Nuland, the U.S. diplomat during the meeting.
Nasser Bourita, the Moroccan Foreign Affairs Minister said participants at the meeting reviewed the stabilisation efforts in zones previously affected by Islamic State in the domain of strategic communication against radical propaganda of the terrorist group and its affiliates as well as the fight against foreign terrorist combatants.
Wednesday’s meeting was the first time the ICAIS, which was launched in 2014 and brings together 84 states and international organisations including the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and Interpol, is holding its meeting on African soil where the Islamic State wants to extend notably in the Sahel and in the Gulf of Guinea.
Nineteen African states took part in the Marrakech meeting including Benin which participated for the first time.
“Today, 27 terrorist groups based in Africa are on the United Nations Security Council sanctions list,” said Bourita, adding that a total of 1.4 million persons were displaced in West Africa and in the Sahel in 2021 for reasons of conflicts in the region.
“We remain lucid on the state of the Islamc State threat which has not diminished.”
In the Sahel, the number of terrorist incidents has increased by 43 per cent between 2018 and 2021, according to figures released by American counter-terrorism outfits.
On Wednesday, May 11, five Egyptian soldiers and seven jihadists were killed during an attack in the eastern Sinai region which is gripped by a jihadist insurrection, according to the Egyptian army.
The United States of America has indicated it would spend about 120 million dollars in new assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa to “hinder, arrest, pursue and jail these terrorists”.
The American diplomat Nuland said if the Islamic State has lost its grip in Irak and Syria, “it remains a threat, searching for the least occasion to reconstitute”.
In Jan. this year, Islamic State combatants attacked a prison held by Kurds in the northeast of Syria. The attack was its most deadly since its defeat three years ago.
“This was an alarm signal which shows how untenable the current situation is in the northeast of Syria,” Nuland said.
The Islamic State has vowed to avenge its former leader, Abou Ibrahim al-Hachimi al-Qourachi, who was killed during an American operation in Syria in Feb. this year, and has called on its followers to take advantage of the Ukrainian war to resume its attacks in Europe.
The United States intends to contribute 700 million dollars this year with 350 million going to Irak and the same amount to Syria to finance stabilisation operations in the liberated zones which were hitherto held by the Islamic State and to encourage private economic investment.
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