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Isis in Africa

Mike McCartney

16th May 2022

An update on the 'clash of the civilisations' thesis

I'm sure students of Global will be more than familiar with the idea of a clash of the civilisations (CoC), developed by Samuel Huntington in the early 1990s, where the central premise is that in the post Cold War era, culture and religion would supplant ideological division as the main cause of global tension. The main conflict, it was said, would arise between Christianity and Islam. But this is also a useful update, if looking for examples of ISIS related activity, or a useful primer if in Year 12 and looking ahead to the post UK element of the A Level.

Huntington's thesis, of course, it should be noted has not been universally accepted, with some such as Edward Said, for example, arguing that not all majority Muslim countries should not be viewed as homogeneous bloc.

Nevertheless, there is evidence of actions by organisations like Isis that fit the narrative of a battle between Islamic and Western values, with attention now turning to Africa. According to data released at a recent meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat Isis, nearly half oaf all terrorism related deaths were in Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the Washington Post:

"The Islamic State’s regional affiliates in Africa are carrying out lethal attacks at a tempo far surpassing that of the parent organization that once ruled large swaths of Iraq and Syria, Morocco’s chief diplomat said Wednesday at a meeting of the global alliance battling the militant group.

Sub-Saharan Africa, home to several branches of the Islamic State, now accounts for nearly half of all deaths worldwide attributed to the terrorist group, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita said.

“We remain lucid on the state of the ISIS threat, which has not diminished,” said Bourita, whose country is hosting a conference of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. He said that sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 48 percent, or 3,461, of the deaths worldwide attributed to ISIS in 2021.

“Today, 27 terrorist entities based in Africa are registered on the U.N. Security Council sanction list,” Bourita said. “This is a clear indicator of their connections to major global terrorist groups.”"

According to the i:

"The expansion of Isis and its affiliates there is the main reason for the surge of terrorist violence. Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) is the biggest killer. But Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab are also highlighted by the GTI."

So it could be argued that terrorism, the use of violence with the intended aim of achieving political goals, by Isis related groups has shifted focus to places such as Mali, in order to drive out western influence, and thus there is still some evidence of the CoC thesis.

A useful backgrounder on JNIM here from the Center for Strategic and International Studies: JNIM

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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