Trouble Brews in Africa, Part 1

Tensions come to a head in Africa. How will it affect the West?

Trouble Brews in Africa, Part 1

It is no secret that Africa is known to be a less than reputable place. Immediately, when one thinks of Africa, they likely visualize stereotypical things: safaris, poverty, ethnic tensions. There is more to Africa than just that, of course. Africa is filled with a long history of a plethora of different cultures, traditions, and customs. But that does not make the former any less true.

The current scene in Africa right now seems to be a storm of different events. Some areas have a rapidly growing economy, with ever-expanding metropolises brimming with people. Other areas are not so lucky. In areas such as west Africa, the situation is dire.

Constant conflicts between various people groups have led to a country that is fundamentally collapsing. In east Africa, in places such as Somalia and Djibouti, the region is destabilized and unable to contain the spread of terrorism, widespread poverty, and things that can be best described as violations of basic human rights.

There is more to Africa than just that, of course. Africa is filled with a long history of a plethora of different cultures, traditions, and customs”

However, a new threat has taken root into the heartlands of Africa: ISIS. Ever since the terrorist group’s near defeat in 2018, the group has packed their bags and headed to Africa. While ISIS still commands attacks throughout Syria and Iraq, there is now an increasing presence in Africa—a move which will set back Africa’s development to more than unsafe levels.

One of the great challenges that plagues Africa is the religious divide. Most of the northern half of the continent, or the Sahara, is majority Muslim. Everything south of the Sahara is mostly Christian with a few exceptions. Tensions are now strained between the Christian and Muslim sides of the continent after Ethiopia, a country in eastern Africa, has finished a large dam that could threaten Egypt’s very existence.

Egypt is famous for its Nile River—the lifeblood of so many ancient civilizations and what historically provided Egypt with fertile soil and lush vegetation along its green riverbanks. At the top of Egypt is the Nile Delta, where Egypt is the most densely populated, home to 100 million people and counting! But the Nile Delta is not where the Nile begins; it is where it ends. And who controls the source of the Nile? Ethiopia.

The source of the Nile River is a big lake in Ethiopia, in which a section of the Nile juts out and moves through the desert and up to Egypt. Ethiopia started construction on a large dam in the river in 2010, which has made Egypt extremely nervous. At any point, Ethiopia can control the vital flow of water to Egypt, who cannot do anything about it in return due to the dam being in another country. For Ethiopia, power over their neighbors in a way that even benefits their country is a proud moment. For Egypt, it is a nightmare.

The dam was finished in July of 2020, but one country might be in a more precarious situation, that being Sudan. Sudan is a nation situated between Egypt and Ethiopia, which relies mainly on the Nile. As with Egypt, most of their population lives along the river. Only the future can tell what will happen next with Egypt and Ethiopia. However, the dam is expected to generate a surplus of electricity to not only benefit Ethiopia but also surrounding countries, like South Sudan, Eritrea, and more.

Yet another issue affecting the continent is the Islamist insurgencies in east and southeast Africa. There have been many notable attacks in places such as Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, and Mozambique. Throughout 2019, bus bombings, suicide bombings, and hotel attacks have become common. The tragic loss of life is almost always due to Islamist rebel groups such as Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab. They have become a constant dilemma in the region and show no signs of slowing down.

Muslim militant groups have spread from the Middle East and have now caught on in Africa, spefically in the far west and the east. The UN reported that terrorist groups have supported rival ethnic groups in an effort to fight proxy wars, or wars in which rival powers compete for dominance in a region via smaller groups fighting. Many innocent people in places such as Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and more have been violently displaced because of the actions of dangerous terrorist groups in the area.

The combination of widespread poverty and religious extremism creates the perfect storm for terrorism at a moment’s notice. Just last January, a large terror attack left over 100 people dead in western Niger. This is one of the many examples of widespread terror and bomb attacks throughout Africa brought on by the onset of Islamist extremism, much of which is influenced by Middle Eastern sources. Unfortunately, not everything is contained. Due to Africa and the Middle East’s close proximities to Europe, it spills over.

Throughout all of Europe, Muslim and African immigration has skyrocketed, and with that comes an increased potential of extremist groups. In Germany alone, almost 6% of the population is Muslim, and they have four times less the population than America! One of the more bone-chilling facts was found by Pew Research, who estimated that Germany’s population is likely to be one-fifth Muslim by 2050. A key reason for this being Germany’s mass acceptance of immigrants  from backwater countries strung together by splinter groups, such as war-torn Somalia and Syria, which seems to be ready to keel over any second now.

Moving west a bit, France receives their fair share of African culture as well. According to the French Embassy’s own website, waves of tens of thousands of people from Mali, Senegal, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have migrated into France, and this number does not seem to be slowing down any time soon. North African attacks in France seem to be commonplace now. In late 2020, a Tunisian immigrant stabbed three people with a knife in southern France—not to mention the terror attacks carried out in France over the past decades.

As more and more of Europe becomes increasingly hesitant to support immigration, the topic of migration to Europe from distraught places becomes a bigger and bigger issue. Only time will tell how Europe will handle it. Multiple countries within the EU have already limited their capacity per year, but as the population grows, European movements against immigration grow in proportion. How Europe handles this situation will be a matter of debate that will last for years to come.