After the beginning of the War on Terror and the practical annihilation of Al Qaeda assets in Afghanistan, few expected militant Salafism to rise again. But simple ideas are the most resilient and Obama bin Laden’s legacy resurged in Yemen and the Maghreb. The locales are indicative of the most peripheral rural populations being the most vulnerable to extreme militancy.
With this in mind, the Americans devised the concept of “ungoverned spaces” and financed the Pan Sahel Initiative in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks aimed at training local regimes and their armed forces as well as installing surveillance mechanisms for the region. The aim was to prevent groups such as Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat (GSPC) from being allowed unchecked use of the Sahara and Sahel regions for sanctuary. This initiative was first and foremost prescient — the GSPC shifting into Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb in 2007 — but for the most part successful as no regime was ever subverted or threatened in a meaningful way by extremists. On the other hand, by no means was this initiative ambitious enough to eradicate the same groups.
The United States have seen its prerogatives being facilitated by essentially Morocco and Tunisia.
France, in its turn, exercises considerable influence in Burkina-Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Morocco and wields significant regional power through a network of interests inherited from the French colonial empire designated as Françafrique. Read more “For France, Gaddafi’s Demise Worth Mali’s”