ASSESSMENTS

The Fight Against Jihadists Is Shifting to Africa

MIN READFeb 28, 2019 | 10:30 GMT

Fighters with the Syrian Democratic Forces walk past civilians at a screening area for evacuees from the Islamic State's embattled holdout in Baghouz, Syria. With the Islamic State on the way out in Syria and Iraq, Africa could become front and center for militants and counterterrorism operations alike.

(DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

When 9/11 kicked off the global war on terrorism, the main focus of counterterrorism efforts was al Qaeda-linked groups operating in the Middle East and South Asia. Close to two decades later, the United States and its allies are still involved in efforts to suppress al Qaeda and its offspring in Iraq and Afghanistan -- albeit perhaps not for much longer. After an exhausting effort, the United States is signaling a shift elsewhere as the Islamic State (which rose from the ashes of al Qaeda in Iraq) has suffered a comprehensive reverse, while Washington has sat down for talks with the Taliban as a precursor to a possible withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops from Afghanistan over the next several years. Instead, Africa has become home to some of the most active jihadist groups in the world. That, in turn, appears set to shift the focus -- for militants and...

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