(Marrakesh) The International Anti-Islamic State (IS) Coalition, meeting in Morocco on Wednesday, pledged to continue the fight against the growing threat of the jihadist organization in Africa and its resurgence in the Middle East and the rest of the world.
The ministerial meeting of the “Coalition against Daesh (Arabic acronym for IS)” mobilized under high security in Marrakech around forty heads of diplomacy.
Initially co-host of the meeting with his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who tested positive for COVID-19, was replaced by the number 3 of American diplomacy Victoria Nuland.
“We have come together to share the commitment to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, across the African continent and around the world,” Ms. Nuland said.
The participants “reviewed the […] stabilization efforts in areas previously affected by Daesh, in the field of strategic communication against the radicalization propaganda of this terrorist group and its affiliates, and the fight against terrorist fighters foreigners,” Moroccan diplomacy reported.
This is the first time that this Coalition – launched in 2014 and which brings together 84 States and international organizations (including NATO and Interpol) – held this meeting on African soil, where IS seems to want to expand, particularly in Sahel and in the Gulf of Guinea.
Nineteen African countries participated in the meeting, including Benin for the first time.
“Today, 27 terrorist entities based in Africa are on the United Nations Security Council sanctions list,” Bourita said. A total of 1.4 million people were displaced in 2021 in West Africa and the Sahel due to conflicts in the region, he said.
In the Sahel, the number of “terrorist incidents” increased by 43% between 2018 and 2021, according to US counterterrorism figures.
On Wednesday, five Egyptian soldiers and seven jihadists were killed in a new attack in the Sinai region (east) plagued by a jihadist insurgency, according to the Egyptian army.
The United States has said it wants to spend nearly $120 million in new aid to sub-Saharan Africa to “impede, arrest, prosecute, and convict terrorists.”
“We remain lucid on the state of the threat from IS which has not diminished,” Bourita said.
While ISIS has lost its grip in Iraq and Syria, “it remains a threat, seeking every opportunity to reconstitute itself,” Nuland said.
In January, around 100 Daesh fighters attacked a Kurdish-held prison in northeast Syria, its deadliest attack since its defeat three years ago.
“It was a wake-up call that shows how untenable the current situation is in northeast Syria,” Ms Nuland added.
IS has also vowed to avenge its previous leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hachimi al-Qurachi, who was killed during a US operation in Syria in February, and urged its supporters to use the war in Ukraine to resume attacks in Europe.
Washington is trying to raise 700 million dollars this year (350 million for Iraq, the same for Syria) to finance “stabilization” operations in areas liberated from ISIS control, and to promote the private economic investment.