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Terrorist organization in the Sahel

Published on December 9, 2010
Reply by Michèle Alliot-Marie, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, to a written question in the National Assembly

Paris, December 7, 2010

During the Mauritanian operation of 22 July 2010, all the relevant French services were mobilized. The support France gave was consistent with the logistical backing she provides Mauritania in strict accordance with international law and the agreements between the two countries. This operation was decided, planned and carried out by the Mauritanian authorities, who were exercising the right of hot pursuit which Mali’s authorities granted the Mauritanian forces, to prevent terrorist operations in the Sahel region, with due regard for Mali’s territorial sovereignty. More generally, France, with the European Union’s help, is cooperating closely with all the regional players in the fight against terrorism.

On a national basis, the French authorities provide technical assistance to the three Sahel States (Mauritania, Niger and Mali), who benefit from training programmes for their judges and police forces. This support forms part of a long-term perspective of strengthening civilian capabilities, key to fighting the establishment and development of terrorist networks.

Moreover, France has diversified and deepened with the Sahelian countries the priority areas of her development cooperation, essential for cutting off sources of recruitment for AQIM [al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb]. This approach takes into account the multifaceted nature of the terrorist threat by striking at the root of the problem. So our partners are aware of the challenges of the region and counter-terrorist efforts to reduce the threat.

Furthermore, the French authorities are taking on a leadership role in studying the plan for a Sahelian security college, whose purpose would be to provide crisis-management training. France initiated the support mobilized in Europe. A letter co-signed by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs on 10 September 2010 asked the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to present a European strategy for that region. The European Union Foreign Affairs Council mandated the High Representative to present a document to that effect for the start of 2011. The objective is to bring together every means available within the European Union to strengthen the ability of the region’s States to exercise their sovereignty over the whole of their territory./.

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