Symposium on the 6th European Union- African Union Summit and the Developments of Terrorist Expansion in Africa
On March 20, 2022, and within the framework of its interest in developments in Africa, ECFA organized a symposium on the “6th European Union- African Union Summit and the Developments of Terrorist Expansion in Africa”. It was inaugurated by Ambassador Dr. Mounir Zahran, ECFA Chairman, and attended by a number of ECFA members. Ambassadors Salah Halima and Ali El-Hefny presented a paper on the topic of the summit, and another on the issue of terrorism, respectively; in addition, Major General Mohamed Abdel-Baset, Director-General of the Sahel Saharan Counter-Terrorism Center, commented on the two topics of the event.
The participants pointed out that the 6th EU-Africa Summit, which was held on February 17-18, 2022, under the slogan “Two Unions, a Joint Vision for 2030”, may be the first that represents real harbingers in the process of reforming and strengthening relations between the two sides, given that it involved laying the foundations of a “renewed partnership” aimed at addressing three major challenges: security, health and stability, and the promises and strategies agreed upon by the two parties to combat irregular migration and border management, as well as providing 450 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, and enhancing economic and investment programs through an investment plan in the continent with more than 150 billion euros, out of the 300 billion euros allocated within the framework of the European initiative called the “Global Gateway”, which is hoped to change the status of relations between the two parties.
However, progress made by Europe towards the African continent is still modest compared to what it should be. There are also some sensitive issues that may prevent effective cooperation between the two sides, perhaps the most prominent of which are the issues of human rights and democracy.
On the other hand, the participants expressed their concern about the rapid spread of terrorist organizations across Africa, noting in this context the existence of a new variable represented in the spread of the Russian “Wagner” forces in a number of countries of the continent, such as Libya, Sudan, Mali, Burkina Faso and Central Africa, which is pushing for promoting terrorism, as they are mercenary forces that practice violence to serve certain parties. The participants also stressed the importance of finding common ground and unified concepts in relation to terrorism and the criteria for identifying it. It was also pointed out that there are multiple references for terrorist organizations, not necessarily Islamic, that they are common in organized crime practices in general, while many African countries lack combat forces with a high level of qualification and readiness.
In this context, reference was made to the role of the CEN-SAD Counter-Terrorism Center, based in Cairo, in an attempt to strengthen ties and trust among its Member States, and to exchange information in order to achieve a comprehensive confrontation of terrorism, organized crime and illegal immigration, as desired.