North Africa conference draws friendly debate, discussion

November 17, 2010

McDaniel College’s Department of Political Science and International Studies hosted a group of noted national and international experts this week for an all-day conference, “Violent Extremism in North Africa and the Sahel.”

View the photos online here.

McDaniel College and the CNA Center for Naval Analyses – a federally funded research and development center for the Navy and Marine Corps – co-sponsored the conference, which centered on discussing efforts to revamp U.S. security interests in North Africa.

Anouar Boukhars, assistant professor of International Relations at McDaniel, coordinated the conference with a $10,000 grant from CNA.

“The dramatic rise in terrorist attacks in North Africa since 9/11 has boosted the geostrategic importance of the region,” Boukhars said.

Audience members included students and guests such as Mourad Belguedj (man in red striped tie), a senior analyst with the World Bank.

With an audience of about 100 students, faculty, community members and journalists, the conference led to friendly debate and discussion about topics that ranged from “Radicalization Trends in the Maghreb” to “U.S. Responses to the Shifting Security Challenges and Strategic Opportunities in North Africa and the Sahel” to “Political, Economic and Social Trends in the Maghreb.”

“The bottom line is that the U.S. should stop putting so much emphasis on security, and instead focus on social and economic development,” said Ambassador Herman J. Cohen, former assistant secretary of state for Africa.

Other expert panelists echoed Cohen’s sentiments, with various suggestions for the most efficient way to cultivate a safer environment in North Africa.

Other experts joining Cohen on various panels included:

  • Maj. Gen. Abdeljebbar Azzaoui, director of intelligence and counterterrorism for the Kingdom of Morocco;
  • Gen. Carlton W. Fulford, former deputy commander of the U.S. European Command;
  • Lianne Kennedy-Boudali, international policy analyst with RAND Corp.;
  • Christopher Boucek, senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Program;
  • John P. Entelis, professor of Political Science and director of the Middle East Studies Program at Fordham University;
  • J. Peter Pham, senior vice president at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy;
  • Mostafa Kharoufi, former director of the United Nations Development Program in Eastern Sudan;
  • Christopher Steinitz, Middle East analyst with CNA’s Center for Strategic Studies;
  • Audra Grant, Middle East analyst for RAND Corp.;
  • Oliver Wilcox, senior advisor for the Middle East Bureau of the U.S. Agency for International Development;
  • Gary Hufbauer, the Reginald Jones senior fellow at the Petterson Institute for International Economics;
  • Stephen King, associate professor of Comparative Politics at Georgetown University;
  • Eric V. Thompson, director of the International Affairs Group at the CNA.