Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Sahara: Joint command re-convenes (again)

Under pressure from the EU and the US not to play such a disruptive and destabilising role in the Sahel, the chief of staff of the Algerian army, General Ahmed Gaïd Salah, attended a special meeting in Bamako on 28th April of the joint command of the armies of Algeria, Niger, Mali, and Mauritania.

This is the same joint command that was set up at Tamanrasset rather theatrically one year earlier on 19th April 2010. The last meeting was in September 2010, at which the parties expressed 'their common deter¬mination to strengthen the fight against Al-Qa'ida in Islamic Maghreb.'

A key feature of the meeting was the asser¬tion that the four countries will mobilise 75,000 troops to rid the region of AQIM. This is the same number of troops as proposed at the founding meeting a year earlier, since when little or nothing of consequence has been done. Neither has it been explained by any of the four countries why it takes 75,000 troops to wipe out 400–500 terrorists.

Five days after this meeting, on 3rd May and as part of the new 'rapprochement' between Algeria and the Sahel, Mali's Foreign Affairs Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga did his bit by confirming in an interview for Le Monde that his country had recorded an influx of heavy weapons into Mali stolen from Libyan arsenals.

For more news and expert analysis about the Sahara region, please see Sahara Focus.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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