General Dah Sidi Mohamed El Agheb, Commander of the Joint Military Academy of Mauritania, visited Nato Headquarters on 26 June 2023.

Agheb met with several allied representatives and members of Nato’s International Staff and International Military Staff, with whom he shared views on the latest security developments in the Sahel region and on opportunities to enhance Nato’s co-operation with Mauritania.

“The Sahel region is a theatre of complex and interconnected challenges. The deteriorating situation in the Sahel region matters to Nato’s collective security.

“Mauritania is an essential Nato partner and a key player in the Sahel region. Our relationship is built on years of trust,” said Thomas Goffus, Nato’s Assistant Secretary General for Operations.

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is located on the north-west African coast. The southern portion of the country comes within the Sahel – a region between the Sahara to the north and the Sudanian savanna to the south and stretching from the Atlantic to the Red Sea.

Earlier in June, Agheb, together with representatives from Nato’s Operations Division, visited the Royal Military Academy of Belgium, where he met with the Academy’s Commander, Admiral Yves Dupont, and discussed ways to strengthen co-operation amongst foreign military academies. 

The Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) is a partnership forum that aims to contribute to security and stability in the wider Mediterranean region, and promote good relations and understanding among participating countries and Nato allies.

Currently, the following non-Nato countries take part in the Dialogue: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.

Nato’s interest in the Sahel region

According to an unclassified Nato report, ‘Strategic Foresight Analysis Regional Perspectives Report on North Africa and the Sahel, issued publicly in May, there is a need for Europe to take an interest in the stability in the region.

The report described Europe’s growing interest in the region’s instability and the need to strengthen ties with the region, which has led to stronger ties with Mauritania. The hot and arid landscape, coupled with operating Jihadist insurgent groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State, indirectly impacts European security.

“Overall, the most significant trends affecting all other trends in North Africa and the Sahel are expected population growth, climate change, and challenges in politics and governance. The confluence of these trends could significantly challenge governments, economies, societies, and food and water resources, contributing to instability and uncertainty in certain countries in the region for at least the next two decades.

“Regarding the future of migration, the nexus of numerous trends points to significant migration flows, regular and episodic, fuelling regional instability in North Africa, impacting European peace and political stability, and potentially the cohesion of the Nato alliance.

“The increasing involvement and associated competition of Russia and China politically, economically, and socially in the region could result in greater potential for conflict, impact freedom of movement/ freedom of navigation, contest Western influence, and potentially challenge Nato security.

“Though this situation is unlikely to cause any events related to collective defence for Nato, it will require careful consideration and attention.”