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African states debate unified counter-terror plan

By Sarah Touahri for Magharebia in Rabat – 03/02/10

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African states must step up and co-ordinate their responses to a growing number of threats, according to security experts who attended a January 28th-30th international symposium in Marrakech.

Organised by the African Federation for Strategic Studies (FAES), the symposium invited 150 participants from 42 countries to weigh in on how best to handle Africa's efforts to reinforce its own security.

Symposium participants said the critical security issues of drug trafficking in the Sahel and piracy off African shores must be resolved through collaboration.

"It's necessary to develop a shared vision which is closer to the real situation in Africa, along with action to find solutions that will meet the expectations of African peoples," FAES chairman Mohammed Benhammou told the symposium on January 30th.

Benhammou warned that the "nature of the threats weighing on the continent" were "liable to compromise its stability", while acknowledging that African leaders were already aware of the need to co-ordinate on a plan of action.

Increased co-operation among the various UN bodies in charge of anti-drug and anti-terrorism policies was also stressed as vital to preserving African security. Participants also focused on conflict prevention and governance issues in the security sector.

The symposium also called for the creation of an international network of study centres to analyse geopolitical and security issues, and for increased international co-operation in fighting terrorism.

Political science professor Fouad Mbarki told Magharebia on February 1st that Morocco is well aware of the need for international co-operation in facing security challenges.

"No country should pretend that it's about to fight the scourges of terrorism, drug trafficking, piracy or arms smuggling on its own," he said.

Mbarki also emphasised the importance of collaboration among the Maghreb states. "Morocco and Algeria must put an end to their differences, because security must come first, especially because the region is threatened and lies close to the sources of tension."

A press statement released January 30th by Morocco's Foreign Affairs Ministry also emphasised the need for African co-operation to surmount problems in continental security. The statement said it was important to achieve economic development in order to create a more stable society.

"It's not just a matter of finding security-related solutions; the approach must also include economic development, because a number of the continent's countries remain politically and economically fragile and, as a result, young populations are exposed to illegal emigration and drug trafficking, among other things," reads the statement.

Senegalese delegate Bobakar Dialo, along with other symposium participants, pressed for more dialogue on tackling these security vulnerabilities across the African continent, "particularly in the current situation with its diverse threats".

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    BEN 2010-2-9

    Show me a single country that has been able to wipe out the cultivation and trafficking of drugs. And this is all the more so given that drug trafficking financially profits mercenaries who call themselves “Sahrawis” and are manipulated by the “very secret” services, to which drugs are no secret.


  2. Anonymous thumb

    Anonymous 2010-2-4

    This conference is an insult to common sense. The sought-after security is in fact the security of the dictatorial and often criminal regimes, which afflict Africa and which seize and maintain power through violence and brutality. Just refer to the current news in recent years regarding coups d’état, constitutional manipulations and electoral farces. Morocco can present itself as the champion of the fight against drug trafficking, but it is itself an exporter of the product—and I mean to refer to the trafficking, not the fight. Morocco is probably the number-one drug producer in Africa with its hashish plantations. Spanish customs officials have often been confronted with drug transports bearing the Royal Moroccan insignia on their territory, something that affords them immunity. The diplomatic incidents that have followed have always been stifled as much as possible. Rarely is the press aware. But there are exceptions. Do we need to speak about the illegal transfers of funds, which the dictators stole from the people, and their deposits in rich countries? Mobutu’s billions entrusted, among other places, to Swiss banks do not make him an exception. African dictators own chateaus, hotels and luxury buildings in France and other European countries. The courts of the countries in question refuse to investigate the criminal origins of these goods. The brother of one chief of state led a luxurious life in France thanks to his pimping and drug-dealing activities. The African states truly need to co-ordinate their efforts to secure their privileges and divert the public’s attention from the serious problem of the criminalisation of politics.