NATO is concerned about Moscow’s and Beijing’s influence in Africa

NATO on Thursday expressed concern about the growing influence of Moscow and Beijing on its southern flank, particularly in Africa, and warned of the risk of destabilizing those areas.

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The last session of the Atlantic Alliance Summit, which ended in Madrid on Thursday, focused on “threats and challenges in the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahel” in the morning.

In particular, the countries of the alliance dealt with the issue of “Russia and China’s search for political, economic and military advances in the south” of the territory of the NATO countries, said the secretary general of the alliance organization, Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg, closing the session.

He explained a “growing challenge” that NATO wants to meet, in particular “by providing more help” to its partners in the region, and in particular announced a support plan for Mauritania to help this African country secure its borders and fight illegal immigration and to help terrorism .

The growing presence of Russian Wagner Group mercenaries in Mali or the Central African Republic has been denounced by several Western countries.

For its part, China is gaining influence in the region, particularly in economic terms.

NATO’s new roadmap, which has not been revised since 2010, mentions for the first time the “strategic interest” of the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahel.

“The insecurity in these regions directly affects the security of the allies,” emphasized Stoltenberg.

Among the unconventional threats that represent a particular risk in these regions, NATO names terrorism, but also the “instrumentalization” of illegal immigration.

Spain, which had made addressing threats on NATO’s southern flank its top priority for this summit, welcomed the Alliance’s decision to pay attention to it.

“We have ensured that the southern flank (of NATO) is not forgotten” in the alliance’s roadmap, welcomed the Spanish head of government, the socialist Pedro Sánchez, on Thursday.

Madrid is particularly concerned that instability in the Sahel region, where several jihadist groups are very active, will lead to a surge in illegal immigration.

Located just a few kilometers from the African coast, Spain has become one of the main gateways for illegal immigration to Europe.

The enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, located on Moroccan territory, are particularly exposed to migratory pressure, which sometimes leads to scenes of violence.

At least 23 African migrants died on June 24 trying to enter the Melilla enclave, accompanied by around 2,000 people.

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