North Africa to become a battleground for al-Qaida, West is warned
Al-Qaida is poised to overrun five states in North Africa and the Middle East, creating terrorist safe havens from which the network can launch attacks on the West, Europe and America have been warned.
Mauritania, Mali and Niger have seen a steady escalation of al-Qaida activity targeting Westerners. Somalia, to their east, has disintegrated in the face of Islamist assault. In Yemen, across the Red Sea from Somalia, security forces have been waging a losing battle against resurgent jihadist armies that have claimed the lives of dozens of troops.
Amadou Marou, the president of Niger's national consultative council, has been in Europe with a grim message for leaders. "Somalia got away from us and northern Mali is in the process of getting away from us," he said.
Mohamed Abdillahi Mohamed, Somalia's prime minister, has also urged America and Europe to "step up to the plate". Aid to Somalia, he said, "is not an option, it's a necessity. We are dealing with al-Shabaab, who are extremists and seeking to take their war throughout the world".
al-Qaida's regional affiliates have expanded dramatically throughout this belt of states, exploiting the administrative weaknesses and corruption of their governments (...)