US beefing up counterterrorism presence in northern Africa

She mentioned three initiatives:

•The Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, which brings together civilian, law enforcement and military experts to “pursue a comprehensive approach to counterterrorism”; 

• The expansion of partnerships with civil society organizations in “specific terrorist hotspots – particular villages, prisons and schools – trying to disrupt the process of radicalization by creating jobs, promoting religious tolerance, amplifying the voices of the victims of terrorism”; and

• Efforts to reform of security services and strengthen the rule of law.

Clinton made the remarks at a meeting on the Sahel at the United Nations, which is weighing efforts to intervene in Mali after Islamist militants took over the northern half of the country earlier this year. The Economic Community of West African States this week reached agreement with Mali’s government to deploy forces in the country, and is now waiting for a U.N. Security Council mandate.

French President Francois Hollande has been leading efforts for an international response to the crisis in Mali and has volunteered French logistical support, but no boots on the ground. He met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday and discussed the possibility of naming a U.N. special envoy to the Sahel, a proposal Clinton endorsed Wednesday.

“The United States supports the appointment of a senior U.N. envoy empowered to lead a comprehensive international effort on Mali and the creation of a diplomatic core group,” she said. “This effort must include coordinating the delivery of emergency aid, helping address longstanding political grievances of ethnic groups in the north and preparing for credible elections.”