Europe strives to contain the African Sahel region, but in an indirect way.
It does this by offering development aid that can turn this region into an infertile soil for the presence of the terrorists, especially from the Islamic State group who search for an alternative refuge after the collapse of their presumed caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
According to the Hong Kong-based news site Asia Times, the latest appearance by Islamic State Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for the first time in five years aimed to deliver a number of messages.
Most observers, the site said, concentrated on the fact that Baghdadi was trying to pick up the remnants of his radical organization.
Nonetheless, it added, little attention was paid to the allegiance sworn to the Islamic State by two militias from West Africa, namely from Mali and Burkina Faso.
It said the Islamic State group has been trying to find a new stronghold after the collapse of its caliphate in Syria and Iraq.
The Sahel region, the site said, will most likely be this new stronghold.
Soon after Baghdadi’s reappearance, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged $40 million in financial support to the Sahel region. This compounds the presence of around 1,000 German troops in the region, along with thousands of others from other European countries.
Arid desert in nature, the Sahel region extends over ten states. It suffers acute economic problems, famine, drought and ethnic divisions. Four of the countries of the region are ravaged by violence, namely Mali; Niger; Chad, and Burkina Faso.
The region has proved to be a fertile ground for terrorist groups to take root and grow. Al-Qaeda has succeeded in gaining a foothold in the region. The presence of the Islamic State group also keeps growing.