News / USA

US Sharpens Focus on Northern Africa

Outgoing US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (file photo)Outgoing US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (file photo)
x
Outgoing US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (file photo)
Outgoing US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (file photo)
Michael Bowman
Outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says Islamist militants in North Africa are regional threat that must not grow to become a global threat.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says, for years the United States has focused on combating al-Qaida in nations like Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. As a result of developments in Mali, Panetta says another militant off-shoot, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, is also on America’s national security radar.
 
“Now AQIM is out there, they have tried to establish a base of operations. That is serious. I am glad that France took the steps they did. We are now working with France to make sure that al-Qaida has no place to hide.”
 
Panetta spoke on NBC’s Meet the Press television program in one of his final interviews as defense secretary. Appearing alongside him was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, who characterized militants in North Africa this way:
 
“I would not describe them as the number-one national security threat [to the United States]. But they are a threat that is localized, becoming regionalized, and, left unaddressed, will become a global threat.”
 
Panetta said some upheaval is to be expected in North Africa after sweeping changes brought on by the Arab Spring.
 
“That is what we are seeing in that part of the world, is a tremendous amount of change.  Our hope is that change can move in the direction of providing greater democracy and greater stability. That is what you hope for these countries. But there is instability associated with change, and that is what we are seeing.”
 
On other global matters, Panetta said Iran has yet to specifically embark on building an atomic weapon, but its enrichment efforts are a clear cause for concern. He also said the United States remains committed to forging a partnership with Afghanistan that will endure after U.S. combat forces leave the country next year.
 
President Obama has nominated former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to succeed Panetta as defense secretary.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs