Some 1,300 navy personnel from 29 international locations are coaching in Ghana and Ivory Coast, amid surging jihadi violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group that’s killed hundreds, displaced hundreds of thousands and plunged international locations into crises.
Whereas a lot of the extremist exercise is concentrated in West Africa’s inland Sahel area in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, the violence is quickly spreading to coastal states like Ghana, which is experiencing an upsurge in assaults by unidentified teams, which might have hyperlinks to jihadis. Ghana had only one violent assault in 2021 however that determine rose dramatically to 17 in 2022, based on the Armed Battle Location & Occasion Information Mission.
This 12 months’s U.S. Flintlock, a two-week occasion, is happening amid rising anti-French sentiment in West Africa. Mali and Burkina Faso have ended their navy cooperation with France, complaining that the French navy presence over a number of years has executed little to stem the expansion of Jihadi violence. The navy juntas ruling Mali and Burkina Faso are actually getting navy assist from Russia, and Mali can be working with the personal mercenary outfit, the Wagner Group.
The U.S. says it needs to assist African international locations stem the extremist menace earlier than it spreads additional throughout the the area.
“If the instability will get too broad or too unhealthy then it opens the aperture for different malign actors to attempt to affect and attempt to corrupt the messaging to realize entry to a few of these governments,” stated U.S. Col. Rob Zyla, deputy commander for Particular Operations Command Africa.
Whereas the U.S. isn’t increasing the variety of its troopers in West Africa, U.S particular operations forces will proceed to conduct joint trainings with companions primarily based on their wants and requests, he stated.
For the primary time at Flintlock there’s a web site devoted to maritime coaching the place navy forces follow search and seizure and different techniques, as a way to stave off the rising menace of piracy within the Gulf of Guinea.
Ghanaian navy officers say they fear jihadis will quickly work with the pirates to make the waters unsafe which might restrict financial exercise for the coastal international locations.
“We already know that they’ve intent to hyperlink up with piracy and improve operations,” stated Col. William Nortey with the Ghanaian military. “That may be a sport changer for the littoral (coastal) states so we have to stop this in any respect prices,” he stated.
Because the extremist violence spreads south, Ghana is investing cash to beef up safety alongside its border, shopping for greater than 100 armored personnel carriers, amongst different gear, President Nana Akufo-Addo stated in his State of the Nation tackle this week.
“The truth of the state of affairs in our neighborhood calls for that the federal government goes to nice lengths to make sure the safety, security and stability of our nation,” he stated. Ghana can be a part of the Accra Initiative, a navy platform involving Burkina Faso and close by coastal international locations to battle the additional unfold of extremism within the Sahel.
The unfold of extremist violence throughout the Sahel area exhibits that greater than a navy resolution is required to stop the insurgency from infecting the coastal space, regional specialists say.
Widespread poverty, excessive inflation and the scarcity of jobs for younger males present favorable circumstances for jihadi recruitment, stated Rukmini Sanyal, a Ghana analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit.
“A worrying instance is the continuing battle (over chieftaincy) between the Mamprusi and Kusasi ethnic teams within the Bawku area, in northern Ghana, whereby widespread dissatisfaction might create area for militant infiltration,” she stated. “(The) authorities must undertake a multi-pronged strategy centered on constructing group resilience alongside extra conventional safety approaches,” she stated.
Related Press reporters Modestus Eloame Zame and Francis Kokutse in Accra, Ghana contributed.