AQIM, Al Shabab, Boko Haram, and Hezbollah to Tear them Down; GCC and Iran to Build them UP
This geographic configuration isn’t anything new. Middle East investment in Africa suggests a larger mission of break down local power and rebuild with their own influence. Territories that have been established over a period of years by AQIM, Al Shabab, and Boko Haram have firmly held strongholds consistent with GCC investments in the same areas of the continent. Resources are the key to the engagements according to a recent study.
“What the countries that make up the Gulf bloc have in oil and natural gas, they lack in water and arable land. Achieving food security is a top priority for each of the GCC states, which import between 80 and 90 percent of the food their rapidly growing populations consume.”
Iran has followed this establishment of power by terrorist groups closely and is working to establish their own footholds on the African continent. Iran’s government met with South African President, Jacob Zuma after the lifting of sanctions on the Islamic Republic, but as new sanctions have been applied since, Iran-South Africa trade may be altered towards the go-betweens of Pakistan, Turkey, and UAE among others for Iran to maintain any interests in South Africa.
“South Africa is hoping to exploit a market hungry for investment as tens of billions of dollars worth of Iranian assets will now be unfrozen and global companies that have been barred from doing business there will benefit.” –JPost.
Iran has also recently engaged Zimbabwe on counter terrorism support aimed at improving its standing at the United Nations. However, this would further expand IRGC influence and Hezbollah in Africa. Hezbollah has already trained operatives acting in Nigeria. In 2013, four Hezbollah operatives were sanctioned by the US Treasury Department for drug smuggling in Sierra Leone, Senegal, the Ivory Coast and Gambia.
A Moroccan news agency reported, “In February 2018, U.S. sanctions targeted a number of Hezbollah affiliated businesses, including some in West Africa. Furthermore, as far back as October 2017, the U.S. counterterror operations found Hezbollah weapons caches in Kuwait, which has a significant Shi’a population, and Nigeria, where Iran is actively supporting Shi’a militia, a fact well known to locals yet rarely discussed in the media.”
Iran has invested in naval superiority to exercise control in the Gulf, the Red Sea, and the long important African coasts where piracy and illegal trafficking activities are extremely high. “And as Iran is seeking to become a major exporter of small arms, African countries could also be a lucrative market. In addition, Tehran may hope that its expanding ties with African countries would serve its naval expansion plans in the future,” according to the Middle East Institute.
According to U.S. AFRICOM, Hezbollah has made effective alliances with Algeria and Polisario on an uninhibited trek through the continent. Sanctions have also been imposed on Ali and Husayn Tajideen whose business ties are linked to Kassim Tajideen (SDGT) and financial operations in West Africa, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, and the Virgin Islands for raising millions of dollars to Hezbollah.