Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Senegal’s Macky Sall, Mali’s Ibrahima Boubacar Keita and the president of the Commission of African Union Moussa Faki Mahamat are urging Africa to be more proactive in shaping the continent’s peace and security framework
African leaders on Monday used a regional forum to underline the need for the continent to assure its own security after years of Western interventions, while also calling for international funding to support the anti-terror fight.. The annual Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security this year brings together the presidents of Mali, Rwanda and host Senegal along with military officials and experts to discuss Africa’s serious challenges in the sector. In an opening address, Senegal’s President Macky Sall said a “military response must be comprehensive, and one of solidarity, to leave terrorist groups no place to hide.
“The risk today is seeing terrorists defeated elsewhere seeking fallback zones in Africa,” Sall added.
The vast Sahel region, stretching from Senegal to Sudan, has turned into a hotbed of lawlessness since chaos engulfed Libya in 2011, Islamists overran northern Mali in 2012 and Boko Haram rose up in northern Nigeria. Beyond the Sahel, the Shabaab, a militant group aligned with Al-Qaeda, regularly carries out suicide bombings in its bid to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed government, while civil conflicts in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan blight the continent. Sall pointed to the Western intervention in Libya as an example of why African populations had to be involved in decisions on rooting out terror groups, as the north African nation’s instability has fuelled conflict elsewhere.
“We must beware of preconceived solutions formulated without Africans,” Sall said. “The consequences of these interventions, which we are living in the Sahel, are often worse than what they were supposed to rectify.”
– Sahal force funding –
The forum follows the recent launch of the G5 Sahel force, an anti-jihadist military initiative working across Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger to counter the significant threat Al-Qaeda-linked groups pose in the region and to stop the Islamic State group from gaining a foothold. The world’s newest joint international force, the five-nation G5 Sahel plans to number up to 5,000 military, police and civilian troops by March 2018. French Defence Minister Florence Parly described the G5 force as “a success”, though Moussa Faki Mahamat, head of the African Union Commission, said United Nations support was of “the greatest importance” for that initiative, and for another regional deployment in the Lake Chad region against Boko Haram.
France wanted the force to have full UN logistical and financial backing, but the United States argued against the idea, partly on cost grounds. The Dakar Forum is a French-backed initiative, and the European nation retains a heavy military presence across the Sahel. Mahamat, Sall and Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita all emphasised that the G5 Sahel force required significant funding from the international community, as current pledges stand at 108 million euros ($126 million) while up to 423 million euros may be required in the first year of its existence.
Paul Kagame, the Rwandan President who will chair the African Union from 2018, said African nations “have only ourselves to blame” if the international community alone decided on the continent’s security needs.
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The U.S . Department of Homeland Security quietly shut down Operation Phalanx, an aerial surveillance program that intercepts drugs and illegal crossings along the Mexican border. Rep . Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, vows to challenge DHS move, saying Congress provided full funding for 2017. Cuellar, a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the homeland security subcommittee, is drafting a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson protesting the shutdown.
Greg Abbott and Cuellar challenged Johnson last February1 when DHS reduced Phalanx s flight operations. This time, Cuellar is seeking reinforcements from Sen . John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Reps . Mike McCaul, R-San Antonio, and John Carter, R-Round Rock. Cornyn sits on the Senate Judiciary subcommittees on immigration, refugees, and border security and the terrorism, technology and homeland security panel .
McCaul chairs the Homeland Security Committee in the House and Carter chairs the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. Abbott s office declined to comment; Cornyn and Carter did not respond to requests for comment. McCaul, who referred questions to the Homeland Security Committee, previously called on DHS to develop a strategy to gain operational control of the border.
Over the last several years, Congress has provided billions of dollars to secure the borders, but without an end goal in mind, McCaul said in a statement.
McCaul has authored legislation to require the DHS secretary to gain situational awareness through the use of sophisticated technologies and other means, giving our border agents the ability to predict changes in illegal activity. DHS, which did not respond to Watchdog s request for comment by deadline, asserts that illegal crossings have declined along the Texas-Mexico border. But U.S . Border Patrol reports show that apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley rose 27 percent in fiscal 2016 versus fiscal 2015.
In the smaller Laredo sector, Operation Phalanx accounted for 10,559 apprehensions and 4,007 turnbacks from March 2012 to December 2015 . Phalanx was credited with seizing 12,851 pounds of narcotics during the period. President Barack Obama established Operation Phalanx in July 2010 via executive order . The Army National Guard was authorized to provide up to 1,200 soldiers and airmen along the 1,933-mile southwest border to support U.S .
Customs and Border Protection, a DHS agency. Using advanced UH-72 helicopters, Phalanx flight crews generally consist of three National Guardsmen two pilots and a sensor operator and one Border Patrol agent. Southwest border states of Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico provided the bulk of Phalanx personnel from their local guard units.
In addition to Texas National Guard manpower and resources dedicated to Operation Phalanx, the Lone Star State has committed nearly $1.7 billion in taxpayer funds to border enforcement since 2005.
President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to appoint more robust leadership at DHS, so Operation Phalanx could be back in business by January.
- ^ Texas Gov .
Greg Abbott and Cuellar challenged Johnson last February(watchdog.org)
- ^ Originally published by Watchdog.org (watchdog.org)
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
June 20, 2014
Today the White House released the United States Counter Piracy and Maritime Security Action Plan.
The United States has long been a leader in maritime security, including in countering the threat of piracy. Since 2009, the United States has organized and led the international effort that has seen successful pirate attacks decline off the coast of Somalia dramatically.
In the spirit of this leadership and in ensuring safety at sea, the United States developed the Counter Piracy and Maritime Security Action Plan. This Plan implements the National Strategy for Maritime Security, and the Policy for the Repression of Piracy and other Criminal Acts of Violence at Sea.
The United States will continue to seek to strengthen regional governance and rule of law to maintain the safety and security of mariners, preserve freedom of the seas, and promote free flow of commerce through lawful economic activity.
The Counter Piracy and Maritime Security Action Plan provides clear strategic guidance for counter-piracy efforts and outlines that the United States will use all appropriate instruments of national power to repress piracy and related maritime crimes.
The Counter Piracy and Maritime Security Action Plan focuses on three core areas: Prevention of Attacks, Response to Acts of Maritime Crime, and Enhancing Maritime Security and Governance; and provides specific frameworks for the Horn of Africa and Gulf of Guinea regions.
These frameworks establish the tailored and specific methodology for these regions and provide guidance on how the United States will respond to the regional threats associated with the varying geographic, political, and legal environments.
The Counter Piracy and Maritime Security Action Plan supersedes the Countering Piracy off the Horn of Africa: Partnership & Action Plan of 2008.
White House Releases the United States Counter Piracy …