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Viewing cable 09PARIS1339, U.S.-FRANCE-EU DISCUSS SAHEL SECURITY ISSUES

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09PARIS1339 2009-09-30 09:09 2010-12-06 21:09 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Paris
VZCZCXRO7770
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHFR #1339/01 2730934
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 300934Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7254
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON PRIORITY 1106
RHMFIUU/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 PARIS 001339 

SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 

DEPT FOR AF, INL, AND S/CT 
LONDON AND LISBON FOR AFRICA WATCHERS 
DOD FOR AF:HUDDLESTON 
NSC FOR AF:GAVIN 
DEPT PLEASE PASS USAID FOR GAST 

E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PTER PREL PINR EAID EU UK MA NG MR NI AG FR
SUBJECT: U.S.-FRANCE-EU DISCUSS SAHEL SECURITY ISSUES 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: U.S. government representatives met 
French, British, and European Union officials on 
September 10 in Paris to review efforts to address the 
security threat posed by terrorism in Africa's Sahel and 
Maghreb regions. There was broad agreement that the USG, 
France, and other third countries should identify areas of 
cooperation and mechanisms to coordinate and de-conflict 
efforts to improve multilateral and individual country 
capacity in the region to address immediate and long-term 
threats from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The 
discussions focused on factors influencing the region's 
ability to address the AQIM threat, including the Sahel 
countries' lack of law enforcement and military capacity; the 
complexity of state relations with its nomadic populations, 
e.g. the Tuareg and Berbiche ethnic groups, the profitability 
of illicit trade and kidnapping networks; the need for 
Algeria to work more closely with its neighbors; the 
importance of better donor coordination; and undermining 
recruitment efforts that could expand the scope of radical 
Islam in West and Central Africa. Participants agreed on the 
need to meet in the future to exchange information regarding 
each other's efforts in region. END SUMMARY. 

2. (SBU) Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs 
Johnnie Carson led a high-level interagency delegation in 
discussions with a French delegation led by Under Secretary 
for Political Affairs (P)-equivalent Policy Director Jacques 
Audibert and Africa A/S-equivalent Stephane Gompertz. The 
U.S. and French delegations were joined by British and 
European Union counterparts for the afternoon session. The 
discussion began with an exchange of information on the 
current security and political situation in the Sahel, which 
Gompertz described as France's "main area of concern" in 
sub-Saharan Africa and was followed by exchanges on a wide 
range of critical factors related to the region's terrorist 
threat. Martin Julliard, France's Head of Transnational 
Threats Section, Strategic and Security Affairs Department at 
the MFA, said that AQIM's political agenda was not well 
understood and was evolving over time. He noted that AQIM is 
targeting westerners, but it was not clear whether it wanted 
to challenge the legitimacy of governments or even the 
states. Participants noted that while AQIM's northern group 
remains concentrated on Algeria, elements of the southern 
group have shifted away from acting primarily as logistical 
support for northern operations and have increased planning 
and operations in the Sahel. It was emphasized that the 
southern group remained linked with its northern leadership, 
but has made inroads in recruiting in the Sahel, particularly 
in Mauritania, and has increased the scope and sophistication 
of its operations in parts of the Sahel during the past year. 
USG and French participants considered whether there were 
opportunities to exploit apparent divisions within AQIM. 
Remi Marechaux, an Africa Advisor to President Sarkozy summed 
up the situation succinctly, "we feel we are losing the 
battle between improved development in these countries and 
the increasing security threats in the region." 

LACK OF CAPACITY 
---------------- 
3. (SBU) There was broad agreement among the participants 
that the focus countries of the conference (Mauritania, Mali, 
and Niger) lack the resources to fully control their vast 
territories. In addition, lack of governmental capacity 
remains a serious hindrance in terms of military/security 
effectiveness and developmental progress. The EU chair noted 
that each country posed specific challenges for partners in 
addressing security threats: 

-- Mali, where in addition to capacity constraints, there are 
questions about the government's willingness to confront and 
engage AQIM militarily, despite clear indications that AQIM 
maintains a degree of impunity within its Northern Mali 
"sanctuaries." S/CT Coordinator Daniel Benjamin noted that 
Mali is perhaps becoming more helpful, but French speakers 
consistently referred to the Malian position as "ambiguous" 
and "enigmatic;" 

-- Mauritania, which may possess greater political will for 
taking-on AQIM, but political instability following the 
recent coup hampered efforts to support its CT efforts; and 

PARIS 00001339 002 OF 005 



-- Niger, where recent un-democratic maneuvering by 
President Tandja makes it difficult to offer new assistance. 
NSC Senior Advisor Michelle Gavin underscored that our CT 
efforts cannot undercut our governance and democracy 
priorities in Africa. While remarking that President Tandja 
had already "won his gamble" to secure a third term and the 
French will focus their attention on pushing for credible 
elections, Gompertz stated that France did not have a clear 
strategy to balance its CT objectives with the urgency of 
promoting good governance and constitutional rule in the 
country. 

PROFITS FROM ILLICIT TRADE AND KIDNAPPING 
----------------------------------------- 
4. (SBU) France's MOD Director of Strategic Affairs Pascal 
Texeira noted that AQIM is commonly understood to have only 
about 150 fighters in the Sahel, but it has significant 
financial resources for obtaining weapons and logistic 
support such as vehicles and radios from profitable illicit 
trafficking networks, including arms, people, drugs, and 
other contraband. Of even greater concern is AQIM's apparent 
success in securing large ransom sums for kidnapped 
westerners. When asked, U.K. FCO Director for Africa Adam 
Wood confirmed that following the January murder of U.K. 
hostage Edwin Dyer, his country would play a more active role 
in the region, and would certainly support an AU initiative 
at the UN to rally international opposition against ransom 
payments in cases of piracy and hostage-taking, which he 
believed was being spearheaded by Algeria. Participants had 
not yet seen a draft of the resolution. 

5. (SBU) Developing a better understanding of Tuareg 
activities and motivations was seen as an important priority, 
especially since they develop ad-hoc agreements with AQIM 
elements in support of trafficking and perhaps kidnapping. 
Texeira stated that Mali views the threat of a new Tuareg 
rebellion as more dangerous than that from AQIM, and neither 
Mali nor Niger could count on Tuareg leaders to fight against 
AQIM. French and USG analysts also noted that breakdowns in 
traditional ethnic political, social and economic networks 
was potentially destabilizing. 

NEED TO INVOLVE ALGERIA 
----------------------- 
6. (SBU) A/S Carson raised the importance of getting 
Algeria involved in multi-national efforts to combat AQIM, 
and also for Algeria to work in concert directly with Mali to 
disrupt AQIM and criminal networks. "There can be no 
solution without Algeria," according to Texeira, who thought 
that Algeria would work with regional partners, but did not 
want to be implicated with "outside players." They noted 
that Algeria engages in limited intelligence-sharing and has 
made inquiries about other forms of counterterrorism 
assistance, but remains reticent about enhanced cooperation 
with potential western partners. 
Participants viewed positively Algeria's plans to organize a 
regional security summit in the coming months, but they 
agreed that there was relatively little information about 
summit objectives or the agenda. 

TREAT OF SPREADING RADICALISM 
----------------------------- 
7. (SBU) The potential spread of AQIM (or some other brand 
of radicalized and violent Islam) in Africa was also a 
recurring issue. In particular, participants expressed deep 
concern that northern Nigeria is at risk of such influence. 
AQIM personnel or facilitators had also reportedly been 
identified in Niger and Senegal recently. Guinea-Bissau and 
Guinea are also at risk should AQIM make greater inroads into 
the West African narcotics trade, according to Gilles de 
Kerchove, the European Union Council's Coordinator for 
Counter Terrorism. Part of the problem is that 
disenfranchised young men from the southern parts of the 
Sahel are moving north and joining the group. 
Participants agreed on the need for a greater understanding 
of how AQIM successfully recruited militants/fighters/suicide 
bombers, especially from 
Mauritania. (Note: during a lunchtime conversation, 
France's Ambassador to Mauritania explained to INR Analyst 

PARIS 00001339 003 OF 005 


Bernadette Graves and Embassy Paris Africa Watcher that he 
sees no clear trend, nor does he understand the reasons for, 
AQIM's apparent success in recruiting young Mauritanians. He 
notes that these recruits have come from a variety of 
backgrounds and ethnic groups and the trend does not fit the 
commonly held view of Mauritania as a moderate, tolerant 
Muslim country with Sufi traditions. End note.) 

DONOR COORDINATION 
------------------ 
8. (SBU) One of the goals of the conference, and a recurring 
theme, was to improve assistance co-ordination among donors. 
The U.S., France, and the EU provide a range of military and 
security training in the region. Assistant Secretary Carson 
discussed the background and goals of the U.S. interagency 
Trans-Saharan Counter Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP). He 
noted that TSCTP was a broad-based holistic approach to 
supporting regional CT efforts that includes military and law 
enforcement capacity-building, public diplomacy/strategic 
communications, and support for local and national good 
governance. USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Earl Gast 
observed that development indicators in the Sahel are among 
the worst in the world and USAID involvement in USG 
counter-extremism programming reflects that the regional 
vulnerability to terrorism is increased by the lack of 
employment opportunities for youth and poor or nonexistent 
governance and service delivery in large swaths of territory. 

9. (SBU) France is focused on responding to Mali's request 
to assist its efforts to establish four forward operating 
bases in its northern frontier. It is also exploring how to 
support efforts to improve Malian administration and local 
governance in the north and improve customs and border 
security. Gompertz stated that France has security dialogues 
with Niger and Mali and would soon initiate discussions with 
Mauritania. The French also highlighted the urgency of 
assisting countries with judicial reform, training of 
prosecutors and magistrates, and criminal procedures. 

10. (SBU) The EU completed an assessment of Mali in July and 
will visit Mauritania in October, but has postponed plans to 
visit Niger due to the current political situation. Future 
assistance may include border surveillance and customs 
services, and Sweden's Ambassador for Counter Terrorism Carin 
Wall highlighted the EU's desire to collaborate more closely 
with other actors, "not least the U.S." 

11. (SBU) All three donors have or are considering programs 
in judicial processes and law-enforcement. A/S Johnson 
explained that the U.S. will likely establish a Regional 
Security Training Center in West Africa, and the EU noted 
that it is considering something similar: a Sahel-based 
"multi-functional" regional training center focusing on 
military, law enforcement, and border control and customs 
capacity building. The EU and French representatives 
highlighted the importance of building academies and 
"clearinghouses" to provide training to a range of security 
organs. 

12. (SBU) The participants agreed to collect and share 
detailed information about the specific programs and projects 
each is pursuing or considering in the region as the first 
step for further consultations and coordination. Towards the 
end of the event, A/S Carson encouraged the participants to 
find the time and means to expand this type of dialog into 
other areas in need of greater mutual understanding and 
coordination in Africa, including the way forward in Somalia, 
Sudan, and the Great Lakes, and also for transboundary issues 
such as demographic pressures, democracy, and development 
priorities. A/S Johnson added judicial reform, including 
best practices in corrections as another timely need. 

"LEAD FROM THE SIDE" 
-------------------- 
13. (SBU) The three-plus groups agreed that supporting 
regional CT efforts in the Sahel was an important immediate 
and long-term priority, but there was a clear consensus that 
external actors must ensure that they limit visibility of 
their activities and avoid actions that would be seen as 
undercutting regional leadership over the issue. Elysee 

PARIS 00001339 004 OF 005 


Advisor Marechaux noted that the French had not crafted a 
"Sahel plan" in order to avoid a potential backlash from 
Sahelian and Maghreb states suspicious of its intentions in 
the region. He noted that increasing the "profile" of the 
AQIM problem would likely enhance the group's Jihadist 
"credentials" and attract potential recruits from inside and 
outside the region. A/S Carson agreed: "We don,t want to 
become part of the problem by appearing to take the lead; we 
need to lead from the side, not from out front." He noted 
that raising the profile of external actors in the region 
risked alienating key Sahelian interlocutors and further 
risked assisting AQIM recruiting and resourcing efforts. 
Ambassador Benjamin agreed that it was vital to ensure that 
the counterterrorism effort had a "local face." 

COMMENT 
------- 
14. (SBU) This gathering will likely prove the kick-off to 
further discussions and closer cooperation. The French and 
the EU reps were willing to share their analysis of the 
situation, but were clearly also ready to defer to the U.S.'s 
assessment. More than one French participant who later 
joined a POL-hosted reception noted how impressed they were 
with the high level of participation by the U.S. and by A/S 
Carson's positive role as co-Chair of the event. 

PARTICIPANTS 
------------ 
15. (U) U.S. 
- Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African 
Affairs 
- Michelle Gavin, National Security Council Special 
Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African 
Affairs 
- Daniel Benjamin, Coordinator for Counterterrorism 
- David Johnson, Assistant Secretary of State for 
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs 
- Vicki Huddleston, Department of Defense, Deputy Assistant 
Secretary of Defense for African Affairs 
- Janet Sanderson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for 
Near Eastern Affairs 
- Earl Gast, U.S. Agency for International Development 
Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator. 
- Christopher Maier, Director for Counterterrorism National 
Security Council 
- Bernadette Graves, Bureau of Intelligence and Research 
- Daniel Epstein, Bureau of African Affairs 
- Victor Nelson, Regional Officer, Office of the 
Coordinator for Counterterrorism 
- Erin Barclay, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law 
Enforcement Affairs 
- Embassy Paris Africa Watcher. 

FRANCE 
Presidency of the Republic 
- Remi Marechaux, Advisor on Sub-Saharan Africa 

Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs 
- Jacques Audibert, Political Director 
- Stephane Gompertz, Director of Africa and Indian Ocean 
- Patrice Paoli, Director of North Africa and Middle East 
- General Emmanuel Beth, Director of security and defense 
cooperation 
- Charlotte Montel, Advisor of the Minister for African 
Affairs, Cabinet 
- Laurent Bigot, Head of West Africa Section, Africa and 
Indian Ocean Department 
- Jocelyne Caballero, Head of Multilateral Affairs Section, 
Security and Defense Cooperation Department 
- Martin Julliard, Head of Transnational Threats Section, 
Strategic and Security Affairs Department 
- Alice Guitton, Head of the Democratic Governance Bureau, 
Global Economy and Development Strategies Department, 
Globalization, Development and Partnerships Directorate 

National Defence Secretary General 
- General Andre Lanata, Head of International Affairs 
Section, International Affairs, Strategic and Technologic 
Affairs Department 


PARIS 00001339 005 OF 005 


Ministry of Defence 
- Colonel Benoit Houssay, Military Advisor of the Minister 
- Colonel Jean-Jacques Toutous, Head of Africa Bureau, 
Joint Head-Quarters 
- Colonel Emmanuel Maurin, Head of Regional Affairs 
Section, Strategic Affairs Delegation 
- Pascal Teixeira, Director of Strategic Affairs 
- Guy Thomas, Strategic Affairs Direction 

Ministry of the Interior 
- Michel Duclos, Diplomatic Advisor 
- Emile Perez, Head of the Police International and Technical 
Cooperation Bureau. 

EUROPEAN UNION 
Presidency of the European Union 
- Carin Wall, Ambassador for Counter Terrorism, Swedish 
Foreign Affairs 
- Daniel Wolven, Swedish Embassy in Paris 

European Commission 
- Manuel Lopez-Blanco, Director for West and Central 
Africa, Directorate general for Development 

European Union Council 
- Gilles de Kerchove, Coordinator for Counter Terrorism 

Member States 
- Adam Wood, Director for Africa, Foreign and Commonwealth 
Office, United Kingdom 
- Corin Robertson, Joint Head, Counter Terrorism 
Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom 
- Hugo Shorter, Counsellor Global Issues, British Embassy in 
Paris 
- Nina Hermann, First Secretary, German Embassy in Paris. 

16. (U) This cable was cleared by U.S. conference 
participants. 
RIVKIN