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U.S. prompts Mauritania to hosts NATO exercise as Al Qaida regional threat widens

Special to WorldTribune.com

CAIRO — Mauritania has launched a border security exercise with NATO
allies.

Officials said Mauritania launched a military exercise on Feb. 19 near
the border with war-torn Mali. They said the exercise, dubbed
Flintlock-2013, included 20 countries including Canada, France, Germany,
Italy and the United States.

A Malian soldier participates in the Flintlock joint-training exercise.  /U.S. Air Force photo

A Malian soldier participates in the Flintlock joint-training exercise. /U.S. Air Force photo

“This is a multinational military exercise established at the initiative
of the United States and meant to enhance operation capabilities,”
Mauritanian military spokesman Col. Mohammed Ould Jiddo said.

The three-week exercise was attended by observers from around the Arab world, including Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. Officials said the U.S. African Command was directing Flintlock, meant to focus on counter-insurgency.

“This exercise will not affect the military’s readiness or efforts to
secure the borders,” Jiddo told a news conference on Feb. 18.

Jiddo said the latest edition of Flintlock, which contains 1,100
soldiers, was “by far the most important” exercise. He said the maneuvers have been enhanced to include air and ground forces.

France has been deemed a leading military ally of Mauritania and helped
in operations against Al Qaida. Officials said Al Qaida Organization in the
Maghreb was moving operatives from Algeria and Mali to Mauritania.

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