News / Europe

Europe Alarmed Over Threat of New Conflict in Africa

Henry Ridgwell
With Britain agreeing to send troops to Mali in a non-combat role, there is growing alarm in London that the country is being dragged into another battleground against terrorism, just as it tries to extract its military forces from Afghanistan. 

British Prime Minister David Cameron took a stroll through Tripoli's Martyr's Square this week - part of a tour, which has taken him to Libya, Algeria and Liberia. It was on a balcony overlooking this wide plaza that former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi gave speeches denouncing the West.

In September 2011, Cameron and then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy drew cheers in Benghazi after their intervention helped oust Gadhafi.

Eighteen months on, Cameron was in Libya to discuss a new threat.  

"There is no true freedom, there is no true democracy without security and stability as well, and we are committed to helping you with that both here and also in your neighborhood," he said at a press conference with his Libyan counterpart on Thursday.

The fallout from the Arab Spring has generated a new threat for the West, says Rafaello Pantucci of the Royal United Services Institute in London.

"Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and other radical terrorist groups, insurgent networks and criminal networks in North Africa were able to strengthen themselves from the flood of arms that came out of Gadhafi's armories," he said. "And this really helped to foment instability across the region."

The French military has aided Mali in driving out Islamist militants from strongholds in the north. Observers say they could now face a protracted guerrilla battle in the sands of the Sahara.

Britain has agreed to send at least 200 troops to Mali in a training role, and to boost security ties with Algeria.

Speculation that Western countries are being drawn into a new battleground against terrorism is wrong, says Rafaello Pantucci.

"Frankly there is no political appetite in Western capitals to get involved in that sort of conflict again," he said.  "And I think also the approach that Western governments are taking at the moment, which is very, very focused on building up local capacity."

The attack last month on the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria resulted in the deaths of at least 37 foreign hostages.  In a video posted online, the alleged mastermind, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, warned of further attacks.

Two security guards died as militants attacked an oil pipeline in Algeria Sunday.

"Al-Qaida's affiliates in North Africa have the means and the ability of creating large-scale terrorist activities and plots," said Sajjan Gohel is director for international security at the Asia-Pacific Foundation. "It also means that they are able to penetrate and bypass security.  North Africa has had problems in the past; they haven't necessarily attracted as much attention as say situations in South Asia.  But now I'm afraid we're looking at another theater of concern when it comes to terrorism."

Analysts say policymakers in Washington are content to play a supporting role as European powers take the lead in confronting the terror threat in the Sahel.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Centurion
February 04, 2013 12:07 PM
These Servicemen from Africa, serving the Crown, left their country to serve so far abroad and their Country collected monies for the War Effort as donations. What more could be expected from them? In the end Zimbabwe was abandoned.

by: Raefaello from: Burma Star
February 03, 2013 7:10 AM
"No political appetite in Western Capitals". So much can be written on many of those from the Colonies, who loyally served the Crown, in Burma, North Africa and elsewhere in the 2nd World War . How opinions have changed now. Suggest you visit Zimbabwe for an outsiders view and then, please publish your findings on what has happened there, since independence.

by: Awot
February 02, 2013 6:54 AM
The West powers have to also pay attention to tyrants who perpetuate fundementalist by their extreme repression. The extreme communist movements of Latin American and many African countries was partly because of the unreserved support for dictators by the Western powers. A similar mistake is seen in the unreserved support for dictators (such as the Ethiopia regime) in the name of antiterrorism. This regimes are pushing their people towards hatred of the Western power.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs