Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

Visit Douglas Farah's
author page at

Press Releases

Is Rumsfeld's Optimism on North Africa Warranted?
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is upbeat on on North Africa elminating terrorist havens. In recent comments, Rumsfeld said there was an "extremely low" possibility of al Qaeda or its affiliates establishing themselves in Northern Africa, in large part because Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia have taken significant steps to make sure the region is not fertile ground.

However, that optimism may be premature. Algerian-led al Qaeda affiliates operate both inside Algeria and across Mauritania, Mali, Chad and Sudan. There are many other groups that inter-mingle with the self-proclaimed al Qaeda affiliates in the region, from disgruntled soldiers from Chad to bandits, organized smuggling rings and those that rape and pillage across southern Sudan. All of these factors make hiding and working in the region much easier than it would be without these factors.

The states Rumsfeld visited and praised are also authoritarian, where dissent is not tolerated and where Islamic extremism appeals for precisely that reason. While the countries have been successful, perhaps, in keeping Islamic Salafists from gaining a permanent presence inside their countries, the potential threat has simply been pushed a bit to the south, where it is being nurtured and growing.

This is not to say no progress has been made, and Rumsfeld is right to encourage nations to acknowledge and deal with the threat before it takes hold. These countries have done that, unlike Nigeria and others, where Salafist influence is growing and the governments have their heads hidden in the sand.

But it seems to me to be excessively optimistic to think there is an "extremely low" possibility of a resourceful enemy making inroads in repressive regimes, where militant Islam is preached and where volunteers have already mobilized extensively for jihads.
What the Harmony Papers Show, and Lessons for Counterinsurgency
Can the West Save Africa, and Should It?
Maintained by Winter Tree Media, LLC