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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora