The Islamist Challenge from the Sahel Region and North Africa

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah - France launched a military operation against the Islamists in Mali to prevent a repetition of events in Afghanistan where the Taliban took over the country and provided a safe haven for al-Qaeda. The fall of Mali would directly threaten neighboring Niger, the sixth largest producer of uranium ore in the world. Given that France depends on nuclear reactors for approximately 75 percent of its electricity production and that most of its uranium comes from Niger, the French interest in preventing the fall of Mali is clear. The states surrounding Mali understood the region-wide Islamist threat and supported France's military intervention. This includes the backing of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) led by Nigeria. Moreover, Algeria let French aircraft fly through its airspace in order to engage the jihadists and halt their offensive on the ground in Mali. The anti-Western jihadi groups will probably try to retaliate, though not necessarily in the Sahel region. Rather, with the human infrastructure they have in Europe, the U.S., South America and West Africa, the choice of possible targets presents a huge challenge for all intelligence services involved in homeland security. The writer was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.

2013-01-30 00:00:00

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