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U.S. Builds New Firewall To Stop Spread Of Militant Islamists

The Wall Street Journal

U.S. Builds New Firewall To Stop Spread Of Militant Islamists

By Michael M. Phillips

“The front lines in the war between the West and militant Islamists have shifted to Africa, from Somalia on the continent’s eastern tip to the West African Sahel, a semidesert strip south of the Sahara.

In the Sahel, the U.S. and its allies are betting that Niger, the worst-off country in the world by a U.N. measure, offers the best hope of stopping the seemingly inexorable spread of al Qaeda and Islamic State. In the heart of the region, the nations of Mali and Burkina Faso are losing ground, roiled by militant attacks and military coups.

In contrast, the elected civilian government in neighboring Niger is making slow headway against insurgents with the help of Western forces, U.S. and Nigerien officials said. Mali’s ruling junta has hired Kremlin-linked mercenaries to provide security, while Niger has shunned Russian intervention and welcomed U.S. and French forces. “We’ve invested a lot with the Nigeriens, and we’re seeing a payoff from that,” said Lt. Col. Chris Couch, commander of U.S. special-operations troops in West Africa. Niger, he said, is emerging as a cornerstone of regional security. The U.S. and its allies are helping Niger try to stop the advance of al Qaeda and Islamic State across West Africa.

In a typical operation, U.S. Army Green Berets helped plan a recent Nigerien raid on Torodi, an al Qaeda stronghold straddling a well-used trade route between Burkina Faso and Niamey, Niger’s capital. French military helicopters delivered members of an elite, U.S.-trained Nigerien strike force to the village in the dark of night.

Full story https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-builds-new-firewall-to-stop-spread-of-militant-islamists-11670771719

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