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Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Initiative (TSCTI)

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Started In:

2005

Funding:

$500 million to start, in $100 million per year increments.

Basic Goals:

The TSCTI is the name given by the U.S. government to its long-term, inter-agency plan to address terrorist threats in Africa. The overall thrust of the program is to enhance local military ability to police national borders and repel terrorist threats. A secondary goal is to enhance regional cooperation, increase information sharing, and encourage policy goals that the U.S. considers necessary to combat terrorism, like strengthening democracy and reducing poverty.

First Activity:

The Initiative's first action was Exercise Flintlock 2005, in which US Special Operations gave military training to 3,000 African troops. The new program will continue its focus on defense, but also expand to engage U.S. government agencies such as the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Background:

The TSCTI grows out of the Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI). The PSI, begun in 2002, was the first American effort to address terrorism in Africa after the 9/11 attacks (the Sahel is a geographic band that divides the Saharan desert region from more fertile northern Africa). The PSI fostered training for a rapid reaction company in Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad. The TSCTI expands the program to include Algeria, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Nigeria and Tunisia).

Responses:

Not everyone agrees that terrorism is as pressing a threat in Africa as the U.S. says it is, and a few experts have feared that the TSCTI could increase popular opposition to the US for its meddling.

Also, there is concern that authoritarian African governments are opportunistically taking advantage of the US war on terror to increase their repression at home. Similar concerns exist with respect to a number of Middle Eastern governments.

Finally, the potential U.S. dependence on African oil has raised questions about American motives for increased security in the region.

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