Event Summary

On September 9, AEI hosted Maj. Gen. Dagvin Anderson and a panel of experts who discussed countering the rise of violent extremist organizations (VEOs) and great-power rivals in Africa. AEI’s Frederick W. Kagan began the event with a conversation with Gen. Anderson on the threat from VEOs in Africa — where they are succeeding, how they are succeeding, and how the US can counter them.

The panel, moderated by AEI’s Emily Estelle, then deliberated the status of the security situation in Africa and US counterterrorism efforts on the continent. Mark Mitchell, a former principal deputy assistant secretary of defense, reflected on the challenges from a policy perspective and how these challenges translate into operations. Andrew Lebovich of the European Council on Foreign Relations discussed US and allied efforts and effects in the Sahel. AEI’s Katherine Zimmerman outlined the challenges posed by the US government’s existing counterterrorism framework in strategically responding to VEOs. Gen. Anderson discussed US engagement and the role of partnerships in countering these groups. He also made a case for US engagement based on the strength and appeal of American values that transcend borders. The panel addressed audience questions about great-power competition in Africa, particularly from Russia and China.

— Jacqueline Derks

Event Materials

Event Transcript

Event Description

Civil war, competition, and COVID-19 — these chaotic conditions are a prescription for empowering violent extremist organization insurgencies. The Islamic State, al Qaeda, and other groups are intensifying their grip on communities across large swaths of Africa. What do we know about these organizations’ strategies and ambitions on a continent that is home to over one billion people? Which populations are most vulnerable to these groups’ rise? How do Russian and Chinese ambitions on the continent affect these dynamics? What comes next for US policy and the counterterrorism fight?

Please join AEI’s Frederick W. Kagan, Katherine Zimmerman, and Emily Estelle for a robust discussion with Major General Dagvin Anderson and a panel of experts on violent extremist organizations in Africa.


Related Materials

Vicious cycles: How disruptive states and extremist movements fill power vacuums and fuel each other
Emily Estelle | Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute | August 17, 2020

Forecast: The African Salafi-jihadi movement after COVID-19
Emily Estelle | Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute | May 13, 2020

Salafi-jihadi ecosystem in the Sahel
Katherine Zimmerman | American Enterprise Institute | April 22, 2020


9:15 AM
Dagvin Anderson, Commander, US Special Operations Command Africa
Frederick W. Kagan, Director, Critical Threats Project, AEI

9:45 AM

Dagvin Anderson, Commander, US Special Operations Command Africa
Andrew Lebovich, Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations
Mark Mitchell, Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict, Department of Defense
Katherine Zimmerman, Resident Fellow, AEI

Emily Estelle, Research Manager, Critical Threats Project, AEI

10:15 AM

10:30 AM