The French Foreign Minister today rebuffed a request from Niger to re-intervene in Libya. In an interview broadcast on French radio, the Nigerien Interior Minister appealed to France and the United States “to eradicate the terrorist threat” in the region. Since NATO’s intervention and the overthrow of former dictator Muammar Qaddafi, southern Libya has become “an incubator for terrorist groups,” he said. France and the United States, he went on, “need to provide an after-sales service.”When asked about these comments, the French Defense Minister said France was absolutely not intervening again. But, he said, he would convene a conference in Rome in March to “give Libya more help.”Niger, a former French colony southwest of Libya, has struggled to deal with the consequences of Qaddafi’s fall and the rise of jihadi and related insurgent groups in the Sahara and the Sahel. After NATO’s intervention, thousands of fighters with varying ideologies and goals poured into Niger and neighboring Mali, setting up training camps and exacerbating instability across the entire region. France was forced to intervene in Mali to fight jihadi insurgents who initially overwhelmed the disorganized and weak Malian army. A year later President Hollande announced, “We now have the situation in hand.”But the job isn’t really done. The same jihadi and allied groups are still causing the same hardships for the weak (or in Libya’s case, nonexistent) governments of the region, and the Nigerien interior minister, for one, wants NATO to come back and finish the job. At least some Western officials seem to agree. Admiral Edouard Guillaud, the top military officer in France, urged the international community to once again send a military force to ensure this region doesn’t become “the new center of gravity of terrorism.”The continuing erosion of security in North Africa and the Sahel is, if any more were needed, a lesson to policy-makers in Europe and the United States to think critically about the consequences of their actions. Nato’s Libya adventure may have saved some Libyans from certain slaughter at the hands of Qaddafi’s soldiers, but it unleashed forces and weapons that have destabilized the entire region. The United States and Europe have shown little or no appetite for providing continued assistance to the countries in the region still dealing with the consequences of that poorly thought out intervention. President Obama might believe that the “global war on terror” has been won, but resurgent jihadists from Mali to Syria don’t seem to agree.
libya afterparty: still going strongNiger to France and US: Finish the Job!
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