Mali (MNN) — Mali’s latest violence underscores an urgent need for regional stability. Twin attacks on Sunday killed five soldiers and wounded five more.
Extremist violence is up 250-percent in West Africa since 2018, Grey Dynamics reports. If political leaders cannot stabilize Mali, Open Doors’ senior analyst Illia Djadi says, it could go the way of Libya – spreading extremist violence and instability to neighboring countries and Europe.
“Since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has become a haven for terrorists and… a transit route for migrants who are heading to Europe,” Djadi observes.
“It’s not only Africa, but it’s also about [the] security of all.”
West Africa: the next Islamic State stronghold?
Put simply, weak government control and powerful surges of extremist activity led to Islamic State takeovers in Iraq and Syria several years ago. ISIS controlled roughly a third of Syria and 40 percent of Iraq at its height of power, the Wilson Center reports. In June 2014, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi announced a caliphate stretching from Aleppo, Syria to Diyala, Iraq.
Will an Islamic State caliphate surface in West Africa? “There are a lot of similarities” between what’s happening in Mali and the Middle East insurgence, Djadi agrees.
“There are several Islamist groups – some with clear links to ISIS, others to al Qaeda – operating in northern Mali and carrying out attacks to neighboring Burkina Faso [and] Niger.”
Furthermore, jihadist threats are starting to expand beyond landlocked Mali.
“They are gradually taking territories and progressing down the coast. Just recently, they carried out an attack in northern Ivory Coast, which is a very worrisome trend,” Djadi says.
“[Now,] it’s not only the Sahel countries; even the neighboring coastal countries – Benin, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast – all might be affected by this insurgency. That’s why people here are very worried.”
How to help at-risk Christians
Whether connected to the Islamic State or al Qaeda, Islamic extremists all have one thing in common – they hate Christians. Believers in Mali and throughout West Africa have a lot to lose. Use the prompts listed alongside this article as a starting point for ongoing prayer.
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“Churches have become a clear target; that’s why it’s very worrisome,” Djadi notes. As you pray for believers, consider sending relief to persecuted Christians through Open Doors. More about that here.
Ask the Lord to guide political leaders and decision-makers, according to His will.
“All these states have something in common – militarily speaking, they are not able to deal properly with this insurgency. Let’s pray for political leadership; also pray for [the] Christian minority.”
In the header image, soldiers advance in a training mission during Exercise Flintlock 2018 at Agadez, Niger, April 17, 2018. Flintlock is an annual, African-led, integrated military and law enforcement exercise that has strengthened key partner nation forces throughout North and West Africa as well as western Special Operations Forces since 2005.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Mary S. Katzenberger, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne)/Released)