Report: Strengthen Mali's government to counter regional terrorism

Regional economic, workforce development can help stabilize Northern Africa
Tools

The United States should help develop the Malian government's administrative and military capabilities to reduce the threat of terrorism in Mali and northern Africa, says a report from the International Center for Terrorism Studies and the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

The report (.pdf), by the center's director, Yonah Alexander, comes in the wake of attempts by al Qaeda-linked terrorists to seize Mali's capital, the September 2012 killing of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, and the hostage situation at an Algerian natural gas facility where dozens of foreigners died in January.

The United States, along with the international community, should promote negotiations with non-jihadist forces in Mali and provide long-term assistance to support reconciliation, the report says.

Elsewhere in the region, the report recommends that the United States increase counterterrorism assistance, share more intelligence, and promote the resolution of regional political disputes. At the same time, it should encourage economic growth, private investment, women's integration into the workforce, and independent judiciaries, the report says.

Working with regional and international agencies to eliminate humanitarian crises also would help, it says.

Without addressing core issues, "the US, the EU, and our friends in the region will remain hostages to, and targets of the ideological, theological, and political terrorists for the remainder of the 21st century," the report says. "Lessons learned in hindsight can be very costly, and the Mali conflict may portend even more severe security disruptions in the region and beyond."

The report says a total of 1,332 terrorist attacks have taken place in North Africa and the Sahel region since Sept. 11, 2001, peaking with 204 attacks in 2009. The vast majority--1,234--have been in Algeria.

For more:
- download the report (.pdf)

Related Articles:
Backgrounder: Crisis in Mali
Clinton warns against letting Mali become terrorist safe haven
Ham: Lack of cultural skills hinders intelligence in Africa
AQIM worried about Malian backlash