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Sahel ministers meet in Washington

By Walid Ramzi for Magharebia in Algiers – 11/11/11

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Government ministers from Algeria, Mauritania, Mali and Niger met in Washington this week to further their new multilateral approach to Sahel security.

The two-day meeting, which wrapped up on Tuesday (March 9th), was a "qualitative step" in establishing the regional counter-terror partnership proposed at the Sahel security summit in Algiers, Algerian Minister for Maghreb and African Affairs Abdelkader Messahel said.

Messahel and the foreign ministers of Mali, Mauritania and Niger met with several senior US officials, including President Barack Obama's chief counter-terror advisor John Brennan.

International partners now consider the four Sahel states as one party in talks, Messahel noted Monday.

This week's meeting in Washington complemented several recent political, military and intelligence conferences held by regional governments, including the Bamako summit that led to new intelligence-sharing measures.

In addition to the Sahel summits, there has been a flurry of diplomatic activity over terrorism concerns and fallout from the Libyan revolution. US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Maghreb, Raymond Maxwell, recently visited Algiers where he said that the US was exploring ways to "sell military equipment to Algeria in the framework of combating terrorism".

"US efforts are aimed at curbing the activities of al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in the region, combating drug and human trafficking and all types of smuggling," the official said.

The US official acknowledged that there was an "important" partnership between Algeria and US based on "friendship", expressing his country's hope to enhance bilateral relations. He added that the multiple recent official visits confirmed the "two countries have many common interests".

The US interest in co-operating with Sahel countries in combating terrorism is due to the "organisation that distinguishes these countries", according to security affairs expert Lies Boukraa. He noted that working with the US in counter-terrorism was essential and necessary in terms of sharing intelligence, training, technology, and economic development.

Boukraa said that Sahel countries were capable of combating terrorism and organised crime in a collective, organised and agreed upon framework, but this would only take place when they unify their efforts and draw up a clear strategy.

The expert also noted new threats to the region emanating from organised crime and weapons smuggling from Libya. The heavy weapons, including portable surface-to-air missiles, could strengthen both the terrorist groups and organised crime gangs.

Another concern is that the Sahel, already one of the poorest regions of the world, faces a burgeoning youth population that requires resources to prevent youths from joining criminal or terrorist groups.

"This is an important challenge, given the relation between security stability and development," Boukraa said.

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    Oufff 2011-11-18

    These crazy words should be ascribed to the most crass of ignorance, which is not permissible in this age of the Internet since the antidote to this evil is a few clicks away and diverse and opposing information is accessible. At worst, this is a shameless submission to interests that are antagonistic to the interests of our peoples. Thank God that the majority is not fooled. The unspoken words in your lies say even more. International terrorism gets its directions from those who finance it: the enemies of the emancipation of the peoples. The confusion is only in a few disturbed minds!


  2. Anonymous thumb

    Maghrébin 2011-11-17

    This is the (militarily forced) globalisation of the bankrupt ultra-liberal system, of the systemic and unprecedented crisis, of the crisis of the US and European states’ sovereign debt, of the financial crisis, of the crisis of their model of society and of the crisis of consumerist values. This globalisation is not set in stone or in the Holy Book. The native people’s anti-globalisation movement is opposed to this globalisation, which crushes the most fragile of us, namely the peoples of the Third World. The 99% who are occupying Wall Street are saying “No to this globalisation, which is made for the sole profit of the 1% of the global population and to the detriment of the peoples of the South!” Globalisation is not inevitable. Just like our brothers, the native peoples, it is up to us to oppose it since it is harmful to us.


  3. Anonymous thumb

    maghrebin 2011-11-15

    I would like to remind Blabla and Esse Othman that terrorism is an international scourge (of organised crime), whose principal source of financing is dirty money. You are partly right to say that Morocco should contribute to this. Moreover, all of the countries of the Maghreb should be involved in this. But, all the same, I direct you to the report published in 2010 by the UNODC, an office based in Vienna under the UN. The director of this office said that, “I cite only two illegal activities and they are two sides to the same coin.”


  4. Anonymous thumb

    ESSE Othman 2011-11-12

    Hello- This simply goes to say that this is the beginning of the end of Algeria’s hegemony in the region. Due to its manipulation of everything, Algeria has recreated an ensemble of reactions that had not existed in this zone – ranging from the Polisario on to the mercenaries used for all sorts of tasks. As in all conflicts, there is a residual effect that we have to hope to eventually overcome. Algeria is not capable of doing this and has thus opened the door to all potential interventions. Since we are in the era of globalisation, we cannot formalise interventions that were qualified as colonial in other times. Algeria is thus reduced to its reality. We just need for it to learn to mourn its ambitions from times bygone.


  5. Anonymous thumb

    Badri 2011-11-12

    Before talking about Sahel security let’s talk prevention and reality on ground: There are many different types of Sahel poor. The most vulnerable groups include women, children, The aged,Touareg, the landless, nomadic groups and indigenous ethnic groups. Sub Sahara people tend to suffer from poorer health, have higher illiteracy rates and earn less than city people. They are characterized by limited access to land, technology, as well as limited access to government health and education services and to economic infrastructure. In order to prevent such problems, the Maghreb countries should support the development of sustainable programs that give poor communities more control over the resources and stronger voice in decision making on land use and development.


  6. Anonymous thumb

    Blabla 2011-11-11

    Salam- You should know that Morocco is the country of the Sahel that is the most experiences and effective in terms of the fight against and the control of terrorism in all of Africa. Without its participation and the sharing of its know-how and its help for the four countries in question, this will be a loss of time and a bunch of blah blah. The proof is that the terrorists in Algeria are like fish in water. Algeria refuses Morocco’s participation in the anti-terrorists operations in the region, and Rowaida Mroue has assessed this refusal logically when he said, “Algeria does not want Morocco to demonstrate its military capacity for handling such problems,” adding that “if Morocco gets into this affair, it will only come out the winner, and that is why Algeria is trying to avoid this glory.” What a shame!