U.S. failures in Iraq will no doubt make Washington reluctant to engage in counterinsurgencies. While the United States has a checkered past with COIN operations in Africa, the spread of Russian and Chinese influence and the threat to the supply of key resources will be impossible to ignore. Certainly, dependency on critical resources will increase competition in Africa. Additionally, the expansion of terrorism on the continent will lead to inevitable disruptions in the supply of these key resources.
Analyst Rashid Abid’s warning regarding Al Shabaab sums up the present and future of African terrorism: “Brace. It will get worse before it gets better.” At some point in the near future, this will pressure the United States to expand its presence in Africa. The United States cannot afford to continue the cycle of losing its focus on COIN, forgetting past lessons, and turning a blind eye to a situation that will eventually pull it in.
Natasha Louis is a Master of Science in Global Affairs with a concentration in Transnational Security from New York University. She is a specialist in African security, including terrorism, conflict and human rights. Natasha is currently the Research Director of Africa Watch at London Politica.