U.S. Marines will train Mauritania's military in counter-insurgency tactics this month as the Islamic state straddling the Sahara confronts what diplomats see as an increased threat from al Qaeda.
Next week's arrival of the U.S. military instructors falls under Washington's Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP), which seeks to help African armies bolster their defences against possible Islamic militant violence.
Although scheduled, the American military training mission comes three weeks after two attacks in Mauritania -- one killing four French tourists, another Mauritanian soldiers -- attributed to al Qaeda members.
Color me unsurprised (but in a healthy way):
"If the Mauritanian government says it needs help in this capacity, you will probably see a receptive attitude from most of the West," one Nouakchott-based Western diplomat said.
Personally, I am much less cynical (and hostile) that most of my colleagues about the prospect of U.S. military training armies of other countries for a limited period of time.