UN flags dangers of IS entrenchment in West Africa

UN flags dangers of IS entrenchment in West Africa
UN flags dangers of IS entrenchment in West Africa

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Senior UN officials yesterday highlighted deteriorating security conditions in West Africa linked to the growing entrenchment of the Islamic State jihadist group and its affiliates.— Reuters pic

NEW YORK, Feb 16 — Senior UN officials yesterday highlighted deteriorating security conditions in West Africa linked to the growing entrenchment of the Islamic State jihadist group and its affiliates.

Despite progress in combatting the group, it “continues to pose a serious threat to international peace and security,” particularly in the “most affected” regions of West Africa and the Sahel, Vladimir Voronkov, UN under secretary-general for counterterrorism, told the Security Council.

“The situation in this region has deteriorated in (the past six months) and is becoming increasingly more complex, with local ethnic and regional disputes conflating with the agenda and operations of these groups,” he said.

“Daesh affiliates continued to operate with increasingly more autonomy from the Daesh core,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

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“Should this trend of greater autonomy persist, the report alerts to the risk that a vast area of instability may emerge from Mali to the borders of Nigeria,” Voronkov said, referring to a new report from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres out this week.

The report noted “internal divisions” within IS — as indicated by last August’s delayed announcement of the death of leader Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurashi — and the possibility of “a shift in the center of gravity of the Daesh core away from Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic.”

“Africa and Afghanistan were mentioned as viable locations” for successor Abu Hafs al-Hashimi al-Qurashi — “with the former reportedly being more likely,” the report said.

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“Daesh and its affiliates are becoming more ingrained in parts of the African continent. They are exploiting the political instability and expanding their radius of influence, their operations and territorial control in the Sahel with growing concerns for coastal West Africa,” said Natalia Gherman, executive director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate.

“The African continent now accounts for almost half of terrorist acts worldwide, with central Sahel accounting for about 25 per cent of such attacks,” she added. — AFP

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