Militant Islamist groups in Africa set a record pace of activity in 2019, reflecting a doubling of militant Islamist activity from 2013. Expanded activity in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin underscores diversification of threat from Somalia.
United Nations, Violent Extremism, ISIS, and Militant Islam
Africa, North Africa, Mozambique, Somalia, Sahel, and Lake Chad Basin
Libya’s civil war has become an increasingly competitive geostrategic struggle. A UN-brokered settlement supported by non-aligned states is the most viable means for a stable de-escalation, enabling Libya to regain its sovereignty.
Composed of distinct operational entities, the militant Islamist group coalition Jama’at Nusrat al Islam wal Muslimeen serves the role of obscuring the operations of its component parts in the Sahel, thereby inhibiting a more robust response.
Terrorism, Non State Actors, Violent Extremism, and Militant Islam
The Sahel has experienced the most rapid increase in militant Islamist group activity of any region in Africa in recent years. Violent events involving extremist groups in the region have doubled every year since 2015. In 2019, there have been more than 700 such violent episodes (see Figure 1). Fatalities linked to these events have increased from 225 to 2,000 during the same period. This surge in violence has uprooted more than 900,000 people, including 500,000 in Burkina Faso in 2019 alone.
Three groups, the Macina Liberation Front (FLM),1 the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS),2 and Ansaroul Islam,3 are responsible for roughly two-thirds of the extremist violence in the central Sahel.4 Their attacks are largely concentrated in central Mali, northern and eastern Burkina Faso, and western Niger (see Figure 2). Multiple security and development responses have been deployed to address this crisis. While some progress has been realized, the continued escalation of extremist violence underscores that more needs to be done.
Security, Islam, Regional Cooperation, and Violent Extremism
Africa’s armed forces are in transition from an independence-era model to one more suited to today’s conflicts and threats. They are increasingly called upon to engage in preventive action, resolve domestic security crises, combat transnational threats, and protect the progression toward more democratic governance. Understanding how African security sector actors’ perceptions may be shifting in light of these changes can provide insights to improving their effectiveness.
This study, involving 742 African security sector professionals from 37 countries, assesses differences in the attitudes, motivations, and values of the emerging generation of African security sector professionals. Understanding these differences may raise awareness, provide a basis for reform, and create an impetus for improving the citizen-security actor relationship.
Globalization, National Security, Democracy, State Building, and transnationalism
Recent years have seen record numbers of Africans forcibly displaced from their homes. The most recent figure of 25 million people displaced is a 500-percent increase from 2005. While much attention focuses on economic migrants who are trying to cross into Europe, 95 percent of those who are displaced remain on the continent. Two-thirds of these are displaced within their home countries. In short, the reality faced is more accurately characterized as an African displacement, rather than a European migrant, crisis.
This paper explores the drivers of population displacement in Africa, security ramifications, and priorities for reversing this destabilizing trend.
Migration, Diaspora, Political stability, and Displacement
Luka Biong Deng Kuol, Majak D'Agoôt, Remember Miamingi, Lauren Hutton, Phillip Kasaija Apuuli, Luol Deim Kuol, and Godfrey Musila
Africa Center for Strategic Studies
The internal conflict and resulting humanitarian crisis embroiling South Sudan since December 2013 have exposed the country’s fragility. A weak national identity, ethnically based violence, a legacy of violent conflict resolution, personalized and patronage-based politics, weak institutional checks on the abuse of power, and the absence of encompassing leadership, among other factors, all pose obstacles to peacebuilding. As a result, envisaging a stable South Sudan has become increasingly difficult for many South Sudanese and external observers.
With regional and international diplomacy rightly focused on negotiating an immediate end to hostilities, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies has asked a selection of South Sudanese and international scholars, security practitioners, and civil society leaders to share their visions of the strategic issues South Sudan must address if it is to make a transition from its current state of dissimilation to a more stable reality. These visions, taken individually and collectively, are intended to help sketch out some of the priorities and prerequisites for transforming today’s highly fragmented security landscape in South Sudan to one in which its citizens are safe in their own country and are protected from external threats.
International Cooperation, Nationalism, Regional Cooperation, United Nations, and Humanitarian Intervention
Africa, East Africa, South Sudan, and Central Africa
Increased attacks from militant Islamist groups in the Sahel coupled with cross-border challenges such as trafficking, migration, and displacement have prompted a series of regional and international security responses.
Security, Migration, Regional Cooperation, Trafficking, and Displacement
Progress toward institutionalizing the norm of presidential term limits in Africa has been mixed. Leaders in 5 countries have evaded term limits since 2015, bringing the number of countries lacking term limits to 18. In contrast, 21 African countries have upheld presidential term limits, and an additional 15 now have such limits on the books. These limits, in turn, have wide-ranging implications
Authoritarianism, Democracy, Political structure, Political stability, and Institutionalism
Africa, North Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, and Southern Africa
After losing territory in Iraq and Syria, ISIS has affirmed its intention to expand its operations into Africa. A review of militant group activity on the continent, however, suggests that ISIS will be challenged to do so.
Regional Cooperation, Violent Extremism, ISIS, and Militant Islam
Africa, Iraq, Middle East, North Africa, and Syria
As instability from the political crisis continues to worsen, Burundi refugee flows and displacement show no signs of abating. The number of registered refugees has risen 60 percent in the last year—to 423,056—escalating the political and economic costs for all of Burundi's neighbors.
Regional Cooperation, United Nations, Refugees, Political stability, and Displacement
A review of violent events involving militant Islamist groups in Africa over the past year reveals a mixed picture, with some groups showing increased activity and others diminished. This variance underscores the importance of local factors affecting each context.
Violent Extremism, ISIS, Militant Islam, Al Shabaab, and Boko Haram
The humanitarian situation in South Sudan continues to deteriorate as the conflict persists unabated. Four years of widespread violence have left 6 million people—half the population—acutely food insecure.
Civil War, Humanitarian Aid, United Nations, Food Security, and Conflict
African leaders’ adherence to constitutional term limits is a key component of institutionalizing predictable norms of democratic succession. Progress toward establishing this norm has been mixed, however. While a number of African countries have succeeded in upholding term limits over the past two decades, leaders in more than 20 countries effectively do not face restrictions on their time in power.
Democracy, Political structure, Political stability, and Institutionalism
Africa, North Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, and Southern Africa
A quarterly update of a map tracking militant Islamic group activity in Africa as compiled by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. Al Shabaab has been involved in over half of all violent events related to militant Islamist groups in Africa in the first three quarters of 2017 (987 of 1,827 total).
Violent Extremism, ISIS, Militant Islam, and Al Shabaab
Africa, North Africa, West Africa, and East Africa