The Russian invasion of Ukraine is perceived globally as the greatest test to the relevance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, – an intergovernmental military alliance among 28 European countries and 2 North American countries.
After all, it was formed after the 2nd World War as a defense wall against the Soviet Union led by Russia.
A top US Army General has however warned it would be foolhardy for NATO not to keep a keen eye on the unfolding security situation in the Sahel.
Speaking at a digital press briefing at the just ended African Land Forces Summit 2022, (March 21-March 25) Maj. Gen. Andrew M. Rohling, Commander, U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa says the greatest threat to the Southern NATO allies, specifically Spain, France, Italy, Greece, lies not only in the threat from Moscow, but even more on the security issues coming from the Africa Sahel.
“If I would have asked our southern NATO Allies where their largest security threat is, they would have not talked as much about activities in regards to Russia, they would have said that it’s the security threat that emanates from the Sahel and Africa is one of their largest concerns, specifically in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, those that are bounded by the Mediterranean on the north and with Africa and the Mediterranean on the south,” he said, speaking to Timescape Magazine’s question as to the types of security linkages between NATO and Africa.
“So, for a long time, the security concerns of Africa have been a concern of our European allies. So, despite what’s happening in Ukraine, our European allies have a vested concern and interest in Africa, and they’re here (at the Summit) as part of our allies and part of our partnership across Africa to help further security and stability in Africa. So, despite current events, it remains – the security and stability of Africa remain as important to our European allies today as it did before,” he warned.
The Africa Sahel that spans from Somalia to the East to Senegal to the West has been the theater of war and conflict, with terrorism engulfing parts of the region in recent years. It’s triggered the flight of millions who scramble to find safety in Europe.
“What affects Europe, affects Africa,” said Maj. Gen. Chikunkha Harrison Soko, Land Forces Commander, the Republic of Malawi in response to the same question.
“What affects Africa, affects the whole of Europe. As we’re talking now, gas prices are going up because of what has affected Europe, and that will not spare Africa. Africa will be affected too. So, it’s important that we come together and discuss the issues of global peace, and it’s exactly what we’re doing at the moment,” he noted.
The African Land Forces Summit this year took place in Fort Benning in the United States, in the state of Georgia, and brought together some 300 participants from forty African countries, for training and partnership building with U.S. Army leaders.
“Land Forces Summit is to strengthen partnerships across Africa to improve regional and continent-wide security. We also want to demonstrate to our African partners that the U.S. is committed to their long-term success,” the US top military official said.
“This forum allows for candid dialogue to discuss and develop cooperative solutions to improve transnational security and stability issues and it provides an opportunity for the U.S. participants to hear issues and concerns directly from African land forces commanders,” he concluded.