On December 10 the Ministers of Defense of the 5+5 Initiative held a meeting in Rabat to assess the current situation in Mali and to seek ways of how to resolve the insecure situation prevailing in that part of Africa. Apparently the situation in Mali and the entire Sahel region is of great concern to all countries of the north and south of the Mediterranean.
According to the Spanish Minister of Defense, Peter Morenés “the concern is now clear to all participants (Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and Malta over Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania), that was not so obvious only three months ago. ”
The European ministers explained to their southern partners the common European objective to find a solution to the conflict in Mali: first, to encourage internal political dialog, second to train the Malian army, and finally, if the dialogue fails, to prepare a military action with the total approval of the UN Security Council.
“We received clear support (in this strategy) from Morocco and Mauritania” said Morenés, however Algeria, “which is a key country” does not see things the same way but “match in the concern.”
According to the minister, the reluctance of Algeria could be resolved in a future visit to Algiers by French President Francois Hollande “and that progress will be made in coordination, in case Algeria agrees, it would be good to take effective action” he said.
For its part, the Moroccan Delegate Minister of Defense, Abdelatif Ludiyi, said that ” the crisis in Mali cannot be resolved only through a security approach but we should think collectively of concrete to develop the northern region of Mali.
It is in this region, known as the Azawad, where there have been strong three jihadist groups, including al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, escaping the control of the central government in Bamako.
Apart from the question of Mali and the Sahel, the main agreements signed today in Rabat by the defense ministers were those relating to mutual assistance within marine pollution, the creation of a procedural manual in search and rescue operations and creation of a common website.
They also agreed to support future development of new projects on a central “information and waste of war cleaning” networking and common action in disaster and relief operations common in this context.
The presidency of the 5 +5 Initiative went from Morocco to Portugal.
The “5 +5 Initiative” was created to promote mutual understanding of the member countries, to build understanding and trust between them and develop multilateral cooperation to promote security in the Western Mediterranean, through the development of practical common interest, agreed upon in an annual action plan.
The sub-regional, 5+5 Initiative began in 1990, while its defence dimension was developed in 2004. On 21 December 2004 the Ministers of Defense from Algeria, Spain, France, Italy, Libya, Morocco, Mauretania, Portugal and Tunisia signed a Declaration of Intentions in order to create a new Mediterranean security initiative, restricted to the western part of the Mediterranean basin, called the 5+5 Initiative. The initiative aims to develop multilateral co-operation by carrying out practical activities within the context of an annual action plan to strengthen mutual understanding and confidence for the purpose of fostering Western Mediterranean security.