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21.11.2009 Feature Article

What are US Strategies in West Africa?

What are US Strategies in West Africa?
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During the Week of November 22nd The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on Africa held crucial hearings regarding US strategy in West Africa in Regards to Counterterrorism Operations. Some of the Results were rather interesting.

The Testimony which was offered by Officials from the State Department, The Military Establishment, Counterterrorism Officials and the Private Sector revealed that Jihadists are capable of Striking US Interests in the region and have already done so. But the Islamists are failing in their objective at this time.

AQIM (Organization of Al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb) emerged in January 2007. This occurred when the GPSC (Salafist Group for Call and Combat) declared its allegiance to Usama Bin Laden. Prior to this event the Prior goal was to effect regime change in Algeria despite the ties it already had with the global jihadist movement. The Alliance allowed for AQ IM access to Media Sites and access to private funding.

Although the Objective of overthrowing the Government of Algeria has not changed AQIM has shifted some of its activities to the South. This is partly due to the success of the Algerian Security Forces. Another Reason for this is the failure to organize cells in Morocco, Libya and Tunisia. So it seeks to exploit the Sahel Region with its poorly defined and secured borders which will allow it to use smuggling routes and recruit members from criminal elements and those who feel margainlized.

Recent Operations in both Mauritania and Mali appear to be as a result of exploiting ethnic tensions in the region. As a result the number of fighters recruited in Niger, Mali and Mauritania appear to be increasing. Some of these fighters are fighting in the region while other have been incorporated into units that are operating in Algeria.

In Recent weeks there has been copious Press Coverage regarding the Transfer of Equipment from the US to the Mali Government. This appears to be supporting the effort of the Mali Government which has been angered after the Murder of a US National and the Assassination of a Senior Army officer. This could lead the organization to relocate to neighboring countries. The Situation in Niger which has in recent months seen a Constitutional Crisis could provide a new safe haven for AQIM.

It appears that Mali will be the main area of concern of US Counterinsurgency strategy. The US needs to develop the counterterrorism, antiterrorism and Judicial Capabilities of all three nations. The Narcotics trade although not appearing to be used as a source of funds in West Africa could be used like what has been occurring in Afganistan. The US is looking at this as an International Threat. The African Nations look at this as a Domestic Issue. The answer is that they are both correct.

The Author Comments on US Policy Towards Africa and Publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet. It can be found at

Development / Accra / Ghana / Africa /

Scott A Morgan
Scott A Morgan, © 2009

The author has 88 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: ScottAMorgan

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