Salem Alketbi

The international airy unconcern for Daesh

الخميس - 19 مايو 2022

Thu - 19 May 2022

The new/old emergence of the Daesh terrorist organization in the Egyptian province of North Sinai comes as no surprise to those who follow the development of terrorist organizations and the evolution of this phenomenon in modern history. These organizations have the ability to mutate, to hide and resurge, and to practice ebbs and flows according to calculations based on many factors.

Some of these have to do with the ideological and organizational development of these groups. Others have to do with the security environment and the ability of members of these organizations to penetrate it and reappear on the scene in different regions. Daesh did not erase completely after the fall of its so-called state in Iraq and Syria.

The military defeat of the organization was never an official declaration of its demise or neutralization. Everyone knows that the fight against terrorism is not traditional. It is not waged against a conventional army that disintegrates or collapses after a military defeat or a declaration of surrender.

Terrorist organizations have a different ideology and a whole lot of different motives. Certainly, however weak Daesh or Al Qaida may be, the factors that contribute to bring back or at least keep these organizations alive still exist in many parts of the world, especially in Syria and Libya. Therefore, this phenomenon is not expected to subside in the short term.

Admittedly, having points of contact with Daesh in one region encourages the presence/continuation of similar hotbeds in other regions. There are areas that suffer from a vacuum of security and lack of state and national sovereignty. Conflicts persist.

There are sectarian divisions in some countries. In other countries, governments have failed. For some time now, we have been following the spread of Daesh in some countries on the African continent.

Daesh has advanced into the Sahel region of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. Officials and experts assure that the organization is rapidly growing and spreading its influence in these areas. According to specialized statistical estimates, 48% of global terrorism victims in 2021 will come from sub-Saharan Africa.

But as usual, the power struggle between major international powers gives the group more breathing room, which it uses to grow influence, expand areas of operation and recruit new followers.

Al-Qaeda’s experience is not a model for judging Daesh’s development; the former ended in terms of activity and organization after the murder of Osama bin Laden, its presence still reduced to ideological debates, while the latter, despite its declining influence, has persisted at the movement and ideological levels.

The two organizations differ in many ways, chief among which is the rhetorical appeal of Daesh as an idea realized on the ground, in contrast to the luster of Al Qaida which was largely attributed to the personality of Osama bin Laden and ended with his downfall.

Much of the political literature now argues that Africa has become the new victim of Daesh. This does not negate the threat posed by the group in Syria (an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 terrorist elements in rural and desert areas now hard to control), Afghanistan and elsewhere. But it is massively redeploying and forming in several African regions.

The foreign ministers of the 84 member states of the international anti-terrorist alliance in Marrakech, Morocco, discussed the issue. But the international community must be awakened to the danger of losing sight of Daesh as it deals with other equally important and influential issues. All priorities must be kept at the international table.

The figures circulating about the presence of Daesh in various countries and areas look alarming. Not just because of the big numbers. But also because of the inordinate brutality of this organization’s elements.

So it seems crucial to bring the threat of terrorism back to the forefront of international collective action.