Source: The Tripoli Post
Army chiefs from four north African states and five from Europe, all members of the European Union forming the group of nations, known as the « 5+5 », met on Tuesday in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott, to discuss security threats in the region.
The group, previously included Libya, but its representatives did not show up for Tuesday’s meeting. The members of the group recently raised fears that extremists could take advantage of the chaos resulting from the seven-month conflict in Libya, and that the proliferation of arms raided from the vast stores of the former Libyan leader would fall into the hands of radical groups like Al-Qaeda.
A diplomatic source told AFP that the officials at the one-day meeting focused on how al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim) might pursue weapons following the Libya conflict.
Fears were also fears expressed by officials from the Sahel zone at a meeting in Algeria on September 7 that the Libyan conflict had turned the region in a powder keg, and that Al Qathafi’s arsenal risked being snapped up by al-Qaeda’s north Africa branch. They also fear that Al Qathafi’s remaining loyalists would be scattered across the Sahel.
The Five Plus Five group is a security club bringing together Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya from North Africa, and France, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain from the south of Europe, all members of the European Union. In the meeting in the Mauritanian capital, all but Libya were present.
Meanwhile, the United States is working closely with Libya’s new interim leaders to secure all arms stockpiles, amid concerns over weapons proliferation, the White House said Tuesday.
« Since the beginning of the crisis we have been actively engaged with our allies and partners to support Libya’s effort to secure all conventional weapons stockpiles including recovery, control and disposal of shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, » spokesman Jay Carney said.
« We are exploring every option to expand our support, » he told reporters on Air Force One as President Barack Obama toured western states.
US General Carter Ham, who led the first stage of the coalition air campaign in Libya, said in early April that there were fears that militants could seize some of the estimated 20,000 shoulder-launched missiles in Libya, calling it « a regional and an international concern. »