The United States Africa Command sponsored website Magharebia reports that the Spanish government has been negotiating for some time with Mauritania, Algeria, and Mali to gain permission for Spanish ground forces to enter Mauritanian soil to fight against the al-Qaeda linked terrorist group, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), especially if Spanish citizens are kidnapped. Those same countries are said to be making plans to initiate a joint taskforce to confront AQIM due to thier kidnapping European nationals.
The taskforce has the goal to “identify the weaknesses of armed groups affiliated with al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in the Malian desert, destroy their strongholds, arrest their elements, and collect the biggest amount of information on the activities of logistical support cells in northern Mali and Niger”, the Algerian daily El Khabar reported. The taskforce will include Europeans.
The Spaniards seem to be signalling that they are not convinced that the Sahel region nations can effectively put down AQIM, or at least prevent them from kidnapping or killing Spanish and other European aid workers. The Spanish government is facing pressure from its own populous to take some action to guarantee the safety of its workers in the region.
Whether or not Spain gains permission to put boots on the ground, their desire to do so is just one more sign that African terrorist groups are gaining more attention from non-African governments. Just this past week Israel gave the signal that it is ready to assist East Africa nations in their fight against al-Shabaab. The United States is stepping up its involvement with drones against al-Shabaab and with advisers and trainers to find and fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army. There are rumors flying that US troops may assist in Nigeria’s battle against Boko Haram.
All of this involvement and rumors of involvement by African outsiders is bound to give plenty of fodder for recruitment for Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and AQIM.