AFRICA - The "Tripoli Plan" for the security of North Africa and the Sahara

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Tripoli (Agenzia Fides) - An important meeting of the Ministers of Interior of the nine Countries of North Africa and the Sahelo-Saharan area (Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Chad, Niger , Mali, Mauritania, Morocco and Sudan) was held yesterday, March 12, in Tripoli, Libya, to agree on common measures to ensure security along their borders. At the end of the meeting the "Plan Tripoli" was announced, which provides, in addition to the exchange of information among the Countries that acceded, also financial support to the border towns, in order to avoid in those areas the development of an economy based on smuggling. "Security measures alone are not sufficient to secure our borders. We need to develop and increase the resources of the cities near the borders", said the Prime Minister of Libya, Abdurrahim El-Keib.
After the fall of the Gaddafi’s regime in Libya, the arsenals of the former Libyan military have been extensively looted and weapons from Libya have been smuggled to different directions: towards the south, in Mali (where war on behalf of the Touareg has broken out again) until Nigeria ( as His Exc. Mgr. John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja denounced yesterday to Fides), towards the south-west the arsenals of Al Qaida have increased in the Islamic Maghreb (AGMI), and finally towards the east, where they reach the Gaza Strip .
To these are added human being trafficking and those of drugs. According to the Egyptian daily 'Al-Wafd', taken from Adnkronos/Aki, through the el-Salloum pass, on the border with Libya, large quantities of drugs arrive in Egypt. Experts of the Egyptian police have announced that three channels are used by traffickers to import drugs into Egypt, and the most important passes through el-Salloum. "Through the mountains in the area - experts say – go bigger loads of drugs". Drugs from the Saharawi camps of southern Algeria, managed by the Polisario Front (the group that is fighting for the independence of Western Sahara), where there are the most important bands of drug traffickers in the desert. The Polisario has structures on the Algerian territory that, according to the Egyptian police, have become "the most important crossroads for drug trafficking in the Middle East."
Before the meeting in Tripoli, the American Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Michael G. Vickers, had met in Algiers, the Algerian Minister of the Interior to review the security in the region. Vickers is considered one of the leading American experts in the field, having played a key role in U.S. operations in Afghanistan in the '80s. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 13/3/2012)