As Daesh’s influence continues to spread across large areas of northeast Mali, signs of the organization’s success in establishing its new emirate are growing, particularly with the arrival of a number of military cadres formerly affiliated with Iraq and Syria, according to the Emirates Policy Center think tank.
Emirates Policy Center (EPC) in its report titled “Returning to the Center Stage: Indicators of Establishment of an Islamic State in Sahelian Africa and Its Dangers” noted that with the escalation of terrorist operations in Mali and Burkina Faso, as well as the spread of security threats to countries in the Gulf of Guinea and Central Africa, there were many indications pointing to the existence of an “agreement” between the military government of Mali and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.
These indicators raise fears of the creation of a Daesh-type Emirate in northeastern Mali, along the border shared with Burkina Faso and Niger, specifies the same source.
In addition, the African Sahel region has been the scene of an intensification of armed attacks, particularly in Burkina Faso, since the end of June and the beginning of July. According to the Terrorism Indicators report for the year 2023 published by the Institute for Economics and Peace in Australia, the number of victims of armed extremism in the Sahel region has increased by 2000% in the last fifteen years. Burkina Faso is at the head of African countries in terms of the number of victims and the second country in the world most affected by this phenomenon, after Afghanistan.
The EPC recalls, in this sense, that between 2007 and 2022, approximately 22,074 deaths in the Sahel region were attributed to terrorism, of which 8,564 Burkinabe citizens were victims. A recent incident was a series of coordinated attacks in early July targeting the village of Kogsablogo in the central north region as well as the town of Fada in the west.
These attacks resulted in the death of around 20 people, while markets and houses were set on fire, residents were displaced, and thousands of vehicles and motorbikes were destroyed. In addition, on June 26 and 27, similar operations took place in the village of Tya in the west and the region of Nouna in the Center-North, causing 75 deaths, including 39 soldiers and 36 armed civilian volunteers.
In addition to the persistence of terrorist operations in Mali and Niger, the threat now extends to coastal countries such as Benin, Togo and Côte d’Ivoire. Indeed, western Benin has been the target of repeated attacks by the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (affiliated with Daesh), while the east of the country has suffered a similar attack by the Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (linked to al-Qaeda).
In northern Togo, such operations have led to a significant displacement of the population. Furthermore, similar activities of radical groups have been observed among refugees from Burkina Faso in Côte d’Ivoire.
Recently, the military government of Mali took the world by surprise by releasing several leaders of the “Daesh” organization, including Youssef Ould Cheib, former commander of military operations in the north, Amiya Ag al-Boukai, the organization’s military commander in the Gao region, as well as Dadi Ould Chouaïb, a well-known commander of the group, in addition to other members of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.
These leaders had previously been arrested by French forces in northern Mali and are involved in violent operations that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, the report says.
According to leaked information, the release of ISIS leaders is part of a major deal between Mali’s military government and the organization’s leadership, enabling a ceasefire between the two sides.
In recent weeks, an escalation of fighting has been observed between “Daesh” and “Nusra” elements in certain regions in Mali, along the common border with Burkina Faso, as well as in the northeast of the country. Burkinabe circles express their fear that their country will be a victim of this transaction between Mali and “Daesh”, which has extended its control over large areas in northeastern Mali.
” Although the new emirate of “Daesh” in northeastern Mali has not yet been officially announced, it has already become a reality, requiring decisive preventive action to deal with this threat whose repercussions already extend beyond the African Sahel region.“, warns the think thank EPC.