The move comes after several warnings from the head of Morocco’s BCIJ, Abdelhak El Khiame, that the unstable region is a breeding ground for terrorism.
Essaouira – The White House has announced the official appointment of an envoy to the Sahel region as part of Washington’s international efforts to clamp down on terrorism and extremism.
Spokesperson for the US Department of State Morgan Otagus broke the news on Twitter on March 8.
The White House “is pleased to appoint Dr. J P Pham as the first-ever US Special Envoy for the Sahel Region,” reads the tweet.
The tweet underlined that the new position is designed to “maximize US diplomatic efforts in support of security and stability in the Sahel.”
Peter Pham previously served as an envoy in the Great Lakes region and is expected to clamp down on the spread of violence and extremist ideology in the increasingly precarious Sahel.
The US move to appoint an official envoy in the region comes after a series of warnings from Morocco about increasing instability in the Sahel.
Head of Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ), Abdelhak El Khiame, last year expressed his deep concerns over the security threats in the Sahel, saying terror groups continue to jeopardize the stability of the region.
El Khiame emphasized that the Sahel has become “a fertile ground for terrorism,” calling for increased international cooperation to stop the spread of extremist ideology and violence in the region.
In late August 2019, General Stephen T. Townsend, commander of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), visited Morocco to meet with senior security officials. The US general praised Washington-Rabat cooperation, calling Morocco a “strong” counterterrorism partner in the region.
General Townsend commented on the relationship between the two countries, underlining that it is “based on a mutual commitment to security and sustainable development in the region.”
“By training together with other African partners, the US military and the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces can improve our ability to work together and provide a safe, more prosperous future for the region,” he emphasized.
Just last month, Europa Press Agency reported that US security services had placed a $5 million bounty on the head of former Polisario soldier Abu Walid al-Sahrawi. The former member of the breakaway group in Morocco’s Western Sahara now heads the terrorist cell known as the Islamic State in the Great Sahara (ISGS).
The ISGS is the “main jihadist threat in the Sahel, where in recent months it has carried out a series of terror attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger,” reports Europa Press.