Maria Nicoletta Gaida (IPESE): Strengthening internal capacities to curb terrorism and negative foreign influence 

WASHINGTON (USA), February 2, 2024 – “Stabilizing conditions in local communities must be implemented through a concrete and timely, coordinated strategic plan that will contribute to improving social conditions in education, healthcare, providing equal opportunities for all citizens, autonomy in governance, and inclusion. These factors would overcome terrorism in all its forms and repel opportunists,” said Maria Nicoletta Gaida, founder of the Ara Pacis Initiative for Peace, the Pax Humana Foundation, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Institute for Politics and Economy of Southeast Europe (IPESE).

During her participation in the “2024 – Wakeup call for Sahel” conference, Gaida pointed out that long-term plans and mechanisms must be defined to ensure prosperity, economic stability, and the security of people living in the Sahel region. 

“This is a process that unfolds step by step, but it is the only one that leads to achieving long-term goals, the financial and cultural upliftment of this region,” Gaida stated. 

She highlighted that the Sahel faces serious crises, including extreme poverty, the negative impacts of climate change, and political instability. 

Furthermore, she emphasized that a new approach would involve a great effort in coordinating diplomatic activities, providing strategic and humanitarian aid, professional and academic education, cultural protection, and economic investments in line with local needs and aspirations.

“Conflicts and violence between and within communities seed revenge across generations, and today’s winners are destined to be tomorrow’s losers“, Gaida concluded. 

Charles Ray, former Ambassador and President of the Institute for Foreign Policy Research said that Nearly three million people are forced to flee their homes due to the impacts of climate change, and around 13 million people require humanitarian assistance. ’’Some countries, such as Mali, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso, face one of the fastest-growing displacement crises in the world, as a consequence of high population growth rates and low levels of economic development” noted Ray.

He emphasized that the UN, the US, and France have invested billions of dollars in this region, but the applied solution proved to be unsustainable and did not contribute to stability. 

“Due to abundant natural resources and demographic growth, this region has become an arena for the competition of global powers. Interest in this region is shown not only by Russia but also by China, India, Turkey, and Iran,” warned Ray, adding that “global competition makes sense only if it is healthy, does not lead to conflicts, and does not endanger an already suffering people.”

Saleem Ali, a distinguished professor of energy and the environment at the University of Delaware, addressed political conflicts in the Middle East, Russia, and Ukraine, while also pointing out crucial issues in the Sahel. “Our main goal with this effort is to raise awareness about the importance of this conflict for US foreign policy, particularly because we see it not just as some isolated effort but rather as something pragmatic and essential for US national security,” said professor Ali.

Didier Castres, former Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations of the French Army, highlighted the seriousness of the situation and potential consequences facing this region.

„Without being excessively paranoid, we are indeed facing a very serious situation, and in the absence of vigorous and coordinated actions, an area of 3 million square kilometers will be abandoned to violence and institutional chaos“, said Castres.

The “2024 – Wakeup call for Sahel” conference was held today in Washington, organized by the Transatlantic Leadership Network initiative. The conference moderator was Sasha Toperich, Executive Vice President of the Transatlantic Leadership Network.

Watch the conference at the following link.

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