The U.S. has stated early and often that the terror group Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) that roams parts of the Sahel region including Niger, Algeria and Northern Mali is considered as a direct threat to its national security. Cautious of the fact that direct involvement has produced mixed results in the past in other parts of the world, the U.S. is instead engaged in bolstering security either by training local forces or by offering technical assistance to those battling extremists around the continent.
One specific example of such assistance was evident during France’s military intervention in January. Shortly after France’s intervention, president Barack Obama announced in February that about 100 American troops have been deployed to Niger in order to provide drone surveillance as a continued effort to combat terrorism. In a letter to Congress he wrote that the troops will:
“ provide support for intelligence collection and will also facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali, and with other partners in the region.”
In line with recent developments, on Thursday, April 3, Ambassador Vicki Huddleston is scheduled to visit the University of South Florida in an event sponsored by the Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies. The conversation will be about the conflict in Mali and will be moderated by Dr. Mohsen M. Milani, the executive director of the Center for Strategic & Diplomatic Studies.
The event to be held at the Patel Center for Global Solutions, will feature an introductory remark by Lieutenant General Martin Steele, a retired United States Marine Corps and the associate Vice President for Veterans Research and the executive director for Military Partnerships.
Ambassador Huddleston has served as the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, U.S. Ambassador to Madagascar and to Mali, Principal Officer of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, and Chargé d’affairs ad interim in Ethiopia.
She was the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2009 to 2011. She has also served as the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Haiti, and Director and Deputy Director of Cuban Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. For more information about event or the Ambassador, click here.
You can click here for the interview with the Ambassador and find out the answers to questions about Mali, how it got to this position and what its future holds.