ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Officials from Saharan countries on Thursday pledged to continue working together in the fight against terrorism, despite Niger’s foreign minister telling a local newspaper that cooperation so far has been ineffective.
Foreign ministers from Algeria, Niger, Mali and Mauritania this week met for a two-day conference in Algiers on security challenges across the vast Sahara. Discussions included how to deal with an active branch of al-Qaida that has kidnapped more than a dozen foreigners.
“So far, we have not seen it execute a single concrete operation. We would like CEMOC to carry out concrete actions,” he told the independent daily newspaper Liberte, referring to the Committee of Joint Chiefs of the four countries founded in 2010.
The conference’s conclusion — which included high level delegations from France and the United States — saw the countries pledge closer cooperation in the fight against terrorism, as well as plans to develop impoverished communities in the Sahara.
“The Algiers conference lets the countries of the region show their partners abroad that they possess a true strategy and unified vision for their struggle against terrorism, organized crime and poverty,” Algeria’s minister for North African affairs, Abdelkader Messahel, said at the event’s conclusion.
Officials from the four countries were quick to say that their strategy included measures to fight poverty and develop the remote and cash-strapped regions where al-Qaida militants and smugglers reigned supreme.
A French intelligence official in Paris, however, dismissed the conference as “diplomatic posturing,” saying that the four are not cooperating in the fight against al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb nearly as well as they could.
On Sept. 1, AQIM announced it had killed 29 members of Algeria’s security forces between July and August, including 18 killed in twin suicide bombings of the Algerian military academy at Cherchell on Aug. 26.
According to reports cited by the U.S. Embassy in a 2007 cable released by WikiLeaks, the organization has been thriving on ransoms from kidnappings and smuggling routes for guns, cigarettes and drugs through the Sahara.
Moammar Gadhafi relied heavily on Tuareg fighters to supplement his forces and with his defeat, many of them are returning to the impoverished communities in Mali and Niger — potentially destabilizing them.
“Just as there can be no development without security, there can be no stability without prosperity,” he said in remarks appearing Thursday in the independent daily El Watan. “The difficulty is that development activities are long term, while we are in a hurry.”
- After 9/11, African anti-terror laws grew
- Son of Algerian who fanned jihad reported wiped out
- Convoy of Libyan, Tuareg troops cross into Niger
- US general sees Nigeria terror link
- Gadhafi Loyalists Flee in Convoy to Niger
There are no comments yet. Why not be the first to speak your mind.