A clearing in the Sahara dust storm?
|Tuesday, 17. February 2009 0 comment(s)||
Times have changed in America. The philosopher-warriors are in ascendence and US military has learnt very tough lessons from its bloodying at the hands of the Iraqi insurgency. It is now instituting what most external experts accept as a very advanced and smart counter insurgency (COIN) doctrine. This seems to be filtering through from Iraq and Afghanistan to Africa as well. Africa now has its own regional US military command - AFRICOM, hopefully more subtly attuned to the continent's security patterns and needs. The violence of the American operations in Somalia has been scaled back over the last year. The US seems to have ended the ultimately self-defeating sponsoring of violent warlords in Mogadishu and support of the Ethiopian invasion (see Michael Hayden's [former CIA head] comment here) and the air attacks that killed numerous civilians in an attempt to kill a few extremists seem also to be on pause. And now, Nicholas Schmidle has an excellent report in the New York Times, looking at US policy on Mauritania. Here the military junta, that came to power by coup against a democratic government, is trying to build a security relationship with the United States based on the presence of what appears to be a 'self-starter' Jihadi group, with possible links to the wider regional al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM, formerly known as the GSPC). Five years ago the US would have done so happily, but now they are refusing to recognise the legitimacy of the junta and have cut all security cooperation with Mauritania after the coup. At the same time there is a far more realistic appreciation of what degree of threat a small group of Mauritanian extremists really present, and that even linkages to wider regional groupings do not make them a global threat. It appears that with a de-militarization of US policy in the area, the "haze of dust" that obscured so much from view is beginning to clear.
Texts reflect the opinions of the individual authors