Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, the geographical west of the Arab world, the Maghreb – ‘the place where the sun sets’ in Arabic language – are on the front lines of Islamist instability after the fall of Afghanistan, projecting on Spain and all of Mediterranean Europe shadowed by disturbing threats, from unwanted immigration to terrorism.
Iyad Ag Ghaly, the leader of the Islam and Muslims Support Group, a coalition of Islamist gangs and organizations related to Al Qaida In the vast desert area of the Sahel, he was one of the first to react to the fall of Kabul: ‘Let us pay tribute and take lessons from the new Islamic’ emirate ‘of Afghanistan, after the withdrawal of the
invading US troops It is the end fruit of many years of combat. Ag Ghaly’s reaction is highly symbolic for many reasons: the character, a Malian by birth, has devoted his entire life to the armed struggle against France (A great tutelary power in the western Sahel, where it has had more than 5,000 soldiers deployed, since 2014). He has been in contact with all the families of subversive Islamism for many years, in Africa, Middle east and Afghanistan, transiting, fromMali to Lebanon, for Libya, the most fragile and unstable pawn in the entire Maghreb.
Libya: Infiltrated by Daesh affiliates
In Libya, the establishment of an Islamist regime in Afghanistan has been perceived as a “trend indicator” by a government that is in a precarious and unstable situation. Between 2014 and 2020 the country experienced a partially unfinished civil war, with the Government harassed from all sides and, in particular, by the Islamist gangs in the east of the country, where in 2014 the self-styled Islamic State of Libya was created with the specific objective of establishing an Islamic ‘caliphate’ throughout the Maghreb. This Libyan group is part of the subversive Daesh archipelago.
In the Libyan city of Zliten there is the legendary Al-Asmariya Mosque, officially presented as the University of Islamic Sciences, one of the great centers of Sufi Islam, comparable to the Al Azahar Mosque, in Cairo, or the Great Mosque of Oujda in Morocco.
Libya is, at the same time, a drain for immigrants and African Islamists and a base of jihadist operations. Long before the fall of Afghanistan, the researcher Jesús A. Núñez Villaverde, commented for the Royal Elcano Institute the Libyan situation in this way: “The idea that Libya continues to sink into an abyss is imposed. Today Libya is an atomized territory in which nobody really represents anybody and in which the vast majority of the actors at stake only seek to get rid of what is at all times within their reach ». For weeks, the warlords of Islamist organizations and gangs have harassed the fragile Libyan government, in a very precarious situation.
Tunisia: Corruption and instability
The acting president of Tunisia last July gave something very similar to a coup, to assume all powers and control Ennahdha, the first opposition party, Islamist. Corruption, instability and uncertainty favor Islamist upheaval.
Ennahdha is a conservative Islamist party, created in the image and likeness of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, with an exceptional historical presence in Tunisian society, in permanent clash and tension with all official governments. Assuming all powers, Kaïs Saied, Tunisian head of state, separates Islamists from the centers of power. Optimists hope that a new strongman will succeed in preserving Tunisian stability.
Marek Halter, writer, essayist, well acquainted with the conflicts in the Middle East and the Maghreb, comments after a recent visit to Tunisia: “Corruption and forced Islamization have wreaked havoc, they have undermined Tunisian political life.” Moncef Marzouki, who was the first president of the democratic Tunisian Republic, adds: “The Tunisian revolution that promised freedom and progress failed because the Islamists supported the counterrevolution. The current president has carried out a coup. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow.
Algeria: Echoes of Civil War Resound
In Algeria, Islamists announced their triumph in elections last June. The government has not clarified the final results with precision. The Islamists already won an election in 1990/91. The Government did not accept that triumph. A civil war broke out that lasted until 2002, claiming more than 200,000 deaths. Corruption and misery continue to be the breeding ground where Islamism remains a strong threat.
Just ten days ago, the Algerian Ministry of Defense published this brief official statement: «In the framework of our fight against terrorism, the forces of the National People’s Army have captured a dangerous terrorist, Laouar Fahim, known as Naïm, who worked for terrorist groups since 1994. ‘ The detained Islamist had in his possession weapons, ammunition and some 5,000 euros, an exceptional sum in the Algerian deserts, which serve as a bridge between the Sahel and the Mediterranean. During the first six months of this year, the Algerian Army has shot dead a dozen Islamic terrorists. The civil, religious, Islamist war at the end of the 20th century claimed more than 200,000 deaths. The new Afghan ’emirate’ stokes bloody Islamist hopes.
Kamel Daoud, an essayist of Algerian origin, comments on the evolution of crises in this way: “The most radical Islamism has conquered a country, Afghanistan, and that victory resonates throughout the Muslim world. In Algeria, the second fall of Kabul to the barbarians is not very exciting. Since the civil war between the Islamists and the regime, the heritage of the jihadist ‘fathers’, the Algerian ‘Afghans’, who returned home from war school in Afghanistan, has not been forgotten. Many Algerian elites are tempted to flee, to exile, fearing the crises to come, victims of attacks of contained desperation.
Morocco: Awaiting the elections
The Moroccan Justice and Development Party (PJDM) is officially a “non-revolutionary Islamist party.” It is part of the government coalition and it remains to be seen how it evolves after Wednesday’s elections. For years, Moroccan leaders have said that Rabat shares with Paris the fear of the growth and threats of radical Islamism.
Youssef Chiheb, a Moroccan political analyst, insists on this point: «Radical Islamism is a common enemy, for France, for Morocco, for the entire Maghreb. Hence the need to cooperate in the most sensitive areas. It is not lost on Chiheb, at the same time, that PJDM, the Moroccan Islamist party, has a vision of ‘Islamic democracy’ more or less similar to that of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey. A nuance that may not necessarily be reassuring. The recent crisis in Ceuta gives a first idea of the flammable proportions that an uncontrolled growth of Moroccan conservative Islamism could have.
Mauritania: Installed in the opposition
In Mauritania, the first opposition party is an Islamist party and the government flares up against those who dare to criticize Islam, justifying the anger of those who killed to defend their religion against the authors of Muhammad cartoons.
Mauritania is a fragile, Islamic state, plug and drain of the jihadist gangs of the immense Saharan band of Sahel, where numerous terrorist gangs and organizations operate, close to the different branches of Daesh y Al Qaida.
The installation of an Islamist ’emirate’, the Taliban, in Afghanistan, from where other families of subversive, terrorist Islam operate, may be a universal threat.
The growth and spread of Islamism, between the Sahel and the entire Greater Maghreb, Libya to MauritaniaIt is a much closer threat to all of Mediterranean Europe, starting with Spain, of course.