Time for US to focus on Western Sahara

Article Highlights

  • Across North Africa and the Sahel, political chaos reigns and stability is in short supply.

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  • Nature abhors a vacuum, but terrorists love them.

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  • Fueled by loose weapons from Libya, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other offshoot terrorist groups have destabilized wide swaths of the Sahel.

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Against the backdrop of North Korea and the conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, and the Palestinian territories, it is understandable that within the United States, the Western Sahara is largely forgotten. It should not be. Across North Africa and the Sahel, political chaos reigns and stability is in short supply. Nature abhors a vacuum, but terrorists love them. Fueled by loose weapons from Libya, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other offshoot terrorist groups have destabilized wide swaths of the Sahel. Freedom House once categorized Mali as the most free Muslim majority country in the world, but now it teeters on the brink of state failure, victim of weapons smuggling, terrorism, and its own porous borders. Across North Africa and the Sahel, from the Red Sea to the Atlantic, the only truly stable country is Morocco, a country whose sovereignty over the Western Sahara remains at the center of a decades-long diplomatic dispute.

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