Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Security situation in the Sahel region

Delivered in Plenary - 19th January 2011

Mr President

Sadly, Salafist forces that are part of the global al-Qa’ida franchise have found sanctuary in the Sahel region, which is a vast and remote territory ideal for them for purposes of terrorist training, kidnapping unfortunate innocents – and here I extend my condolences to the families of the two French citizens recently murdered – and, of course, drug smuggling and organised crime.

This poses a vast security challenge on top of the similar problems we already face in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region, in Somalia and in Yemen. The EU must now cooperate strongly with our US allies and other democratic countries such as India and Israel, as well as neighbouring moderate Arab and African governments, in finding a joint strategy to defeat this menace to global security.

Madam High Representative, Operation Atalanta, off Somalia, has been a success. Perhaps something now needs to be considered – under a NATO hat, a French-led Common Security and Defence Policy mission, or whatever – to defeat this global threat, particularly in the region of Mali, Mauritania and Niger, which are already extremely poor countries and need every bit of help we can give them.