African securitySahel-Sahara countries to build joint security training center in Rabat

Published 25 November 2013

At a meeting on common security challenges in north and west Africa, government officials from nineteen Sahel, Sahara, and Maghreb countries agreed to build a joint security training center in Rabat, Morocco, to increase the competency of the region’s security forces to deal with growing terrorist and jihadist threats. The nineteen countries will also increase information sharing and harmonize the legal means they use to fight security threats. The ministers said that one of the first steps toward improving security in west and north Africa would be to improve monitoring of border and increase border security.

Libya’s foreign minister told government officials from Sahel-Saharan countries that no country in north and west Africa can tackle its security challenges on its own, and that cooperation with neighbors on security issues is essential.

Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz, was speaking at a border security summit held on Thursday, 14 November, in Rabat, Morocco.

AllAfrica reports that at the meeting’s conclusion, ministers from nineteen Sahel and Maghreb countries adopted the “Rabat Declaration,” which calls for the creation of a joint border security training center. The ministers present at the meeting said this was an important step toward dealing with jihadist unrest, particularly in Mali and Libya.

The training center, which Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar said would likely be located in Rabat, would be complemented by closer intelligence co-operation and the use of new security technology at the borders.

Libya was given responsibility for monitoring implementation of the Tripoli action plan and the Rabat Declaration.

The Libyans have been given the mandate to start, in consultation with the neighboring countries, to establish this mechanism,” Abdelaziz said.

Moroccan Interior Minister Mohamed Hassad said that the countries of North Africa and the Sahel-Saharan area needed to go beyond exchanging information to setting up an early warning system and harmonizing the legal means they used to fight terrorism.

The fight against the threats faced by countries in the region is an absolute priority. Therefore we need to get over our differences and co-ordinate our efforts to meet those challenges, without closing in on ourselves, ensuring that those borders remain a place for human, commercial and cultural exchange between our peoples,” he explained.

The Moroccan interior minister said that vigilance was key in neutralizing the threats from terrorist groups and criminal networks. They exploit weaknesses in the exchange of information and co-operation between countries, he added.

Terrorism can only be thwarted by partners,” he pointed out.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who was also at the meeting, agreed that management of border areas required a co-operative approach.

He pointed to Libya, “a country where threats continue to grow at the borders against a general backdrop of instability in the Sahel-Saharan area, requiring a coordinated response to shared challenges.”

In addition to government ministers and officials from the nineteen Sahel and Maghreb countries, representatives from other African and European countries, as well as from the United States, the Maghreb Union, the Arab League, NATO, the UN, and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also took part in the forum.