The Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative (TSCTI) is an interagency plan by the United States government, combining efforts by both civil and military agencies, "to combat terrorism in Trans-Saharan Africa. The military component of TSCTI comprises the U.S. efforts of Operation Enduring Freedom - Trans Sahara. The goal of TSCTI is to counter terrorist influences in the region and assist governments to better control their territory and to prevent huge tracts of largely deserted African territory from becoming a safe haven for terrorist groups." The first partner nations in the program included Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Nigeria and Tunisia. Current membership includes eleven African countries: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal. The goal of the alliance is not to fight in hot spots, but to provide preventative training and engagement with governments to help prevent the growth of terrorist organizations in the partner countries.[1] Exercise Flintlock 2005, a joint military exercise first held in June 2005,[2] was the first result of the new program.[3]

The Congress approved $500 million for the TSCTI over six years to support countries involved in counterterrorism against alleged threats of Al Qaeda operating in central African countries. In February 2007, President George W. Bush also authorized the creation of a new Africa Command to be established by September 2007, under which future African continental operations would be conducted.[4] TSCTI followed the Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI), which began in 2002 by training soldiers from Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad and concluded operations in December 2004.[1]

Critics of the initiative have questioned of the extent and presence of Islamic-extremist terrorism in the region and the actions and past behavior of some of the partner governments, who may be using the program to gain training, equipment and funds in order to effectively control and repress legitimate democratic movements in member states, or to fuel wars between neighboring African countries.[5][6][7] Similar questions were raised about the TSCTI's predecessor, the Pan Sahel Initiative.[8][9]

Transfer to Africom[edit | edit source]

On October 1, 2008, responsibility was transferred from the United States Central Command(CENTCOM) and the United States European Command(EUCOM)to the United States Africa Command also known as AFRICOM as it assumed authority over the African theater of operations.[10]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Statement of General James L. Jones, USMC, Commander, United States European Command, Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on 28 September 2005". Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 2005-09-28. Archived from the original on 2007-01-10. Retrieved 2007-02-07. 
  2. "New Counterterrorism Initiative to Focus on Saharan Africa". American Forces Press Service. 2005-05-16. Archived from the original on 2007-01-15. Retrieved 2007-02-07. 
  3. "Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative [TSCTI"]. Retrieved 2007-02-07. 
  4. "Africa to Get Its Own US Military Command". 2007-02-01. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  5. "Desert Faux: The Sahara’s Mirage of Terrorism". Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF). 2006-03-02. Retrieved 2007-02-07. 
  6. "US targets Sahara 'terrorist haven' " by Catherine Fellows, Mauritania. British Broadcasting Corporation, Monday, 8 August 2005. Retrieved 23 July 2007.
  7. "Islam in Northern Mali and the War on Terror" by David Gutelius. Journal for Contemporary African Studies, January 2007.
  8. "US creates African enemies where none were before" by David Gutelius, Mali. Christian Science Monitor, July 9, 2003
  9. "War on Terror and Social Networks in Mali" by David Gutelius. ISIM Review, Spring 2006.
  10. "Africans Fear Hidden U.S. Agenda in New Approach to Africom". Associated Press. 2008-09-30.,2933,430564,00.html. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Reeve, Richard (14 August 2009). "Filling the vacuum - Mystery of AQIM in the southern Sahara". Jane's Intelligence Review.  (14-Aug-2009)

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