The Sahel–Where Terrorism Breeds

Robert D. Kaplan is perhaps my all time favorite author. His non fiction accounts of travel blend the politics of today with the history of the ages, and it makes for compelling reading. I picked up a copy of April’s Atlantic and found his report from Niger, called “America’s African Rifles.”

He talks about the many places around the world where the US Military is training forces, such as in Niger and Chad, and about the dangers that are breeding there.

“The countries of the Sahel–which runs through Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkino Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Sudan, are among the world’s poorest and most unstable, with some of the highest fertility rates and lowest quality of life anywhere. Governments have little control beyond their capitals, and throughout the region are many of the ingredients that breed terrorists and their sympathizers; a population disillusioned with its political leadership; a dangerously high number of unemployed young men; Islamic orthodoxy on the rise. Sahelian Africa provides the two conditions essential for penetration by al Qaeda and its offshoots: weak institutions and the cultural access afforded by an Islamic setting.

The US is training troops around the world, he says, so that these troops can fight their own wars against terror in places like the Sahel and Latin America, not just in Iraq and Afghanistan.