The Maghreb ought to reinvent itself and plan its common future differently. Common security holds a prominent place amongst the most pressing issues to address.
The geo-strategic positioning of the region’s countries exposes them to an endless stream of threats, thus making their cooperation essential. The main terrorist threat that targets the region and requires constant vigilance is the movement of armed groups between Maghreb countries, and more particularly from the Sahel region.
The Maghreb’s reliefs and vast desert complicate the armies’ mission, and require bilateral and multilateral cooperation to carry out prevention operations and aerial or even satellite surveillance.
Armed groups often use the desert to smuggle weapons, and also to kidnap Westerners and negotiate ransoms to purchase more weapons. Maghreb armies are aware of this strategy; and even if they don’t work together in the field, they still cooperate in terms of exchanging information and intelligence services.
With the current Libyan crisis, there is all the more reason to seek an enhanced cooperation between Maghreb armies.
As a matter of fact, Maghreb countries are concerned about terrorist groups taking advantage of the confusion prevailing in Libya to gain access to weapons of war and send them to terrorist bases.
Cooperation between Maghreb armies does not solely aim to defeat terrorism, but also to improve the fight against smuggling, organized crime, and illegal immigration.
In this day and age, drug traffickers and other smugglers have access to weapons of war and state-of-the-art means of transport and telecommunications. Therefore, it’s highly critical for Maghreb armies to step in and address the situation.
For example, the Algerian army caught a group of drug traffickers near Bechar (south-west of Algiers) after a skirmish that lasted several hours, and seized weapons of war, satellite phones, and GPS units from the culprits.
It goes without saying that Maghreb armies will considerably benefit from enhancing their cooperation, especially that terrorism concerns all countries in the region. The armies know very well that they cannot deal with these threats if they stay locked up in their respective countries.
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