Algeria to lead Sahel counter-terrorism force

Following a regional summit in Bamako, the leaders of Algeria, Mauritania, Mali and Niger agreed May 20 to form a 75,000-man security force to police the Sahel and Sahara regions against al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and trans-border organised crime networks linked to terrorism. A new body based in Algiers, the Joint Military Staff Committee of the Sahel Region (CEMOC), will co-ordinate the military force. The participating nations also agreed to hold regular ministerial meetings every six months, with the next gathering set for Nouakchott, and a summit external partner states is to be held in Algiers. “Our partners from outside the region, such as the European Union and the United States, will be invited to this meeting that will be probably held during the last quarter of this year,” said Abdelkader Messahel, Algerian Minister for Maghreb and African Affairs. “Our countries have started to take action. Today, it is about enhancing the path that was kicked off to confront the terrorist threat and its branches.”

Before the Bamako meeting, a ceremony was held where Algeria donated $10 million to Mali in order to foster development in impoverished and insecure regions. The grant will be dedicated for the areas of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu, which have in recent years witnessed AQIM activity . Officials said that the grant would be spent on irrigation, health and other development projects. (Magharebia, US Africa Command, May 23)

See our last posts on al-Qaeda and the struggle for the Sahel.

Please leave a tip or answer the Exit Poll.