Washington team progress report (Part V)


In March, the Washington Team’s efforts to highlight Morocco’s role as a leader for democratic reforms and peace in the region generated more than 320 positive media placements and 20 million favorable media impressions. 
The Polisario and Terrorism in the Sahara/Sahel
During March, the Washington Team continued its efforts to call US attention to the growing threat of AQIM and other terrorist groups in the Sahara/Sahel in order to shape the debate and reinforce perceptions of the Polisario’s negative role in the region. These efforts included journalist outreach, arranging briefings by Washington Team members and third-party spokespeople, and creating fact sheets and other supporting documents for distribution to target audiences. 
Following the March 2 publication by The Hill of an op-ed by Ambassador Edward Gabriel, « Stop subsidizing recruiting grounds for terrorists and traffickers, » several other media outlets republished or cited the piece, including the World247.net News network and the U.K. Foreign Office/U.K. Government Online. Also, the Italian-based online newspaper, Lettera 43, published an article about terrorism in the Sahel that cited ICTS reports and maps. 
To maintain US media attention on the continued detention of the European aid workers kidnapped by members of an AQIM-related group with suspected help from members of the Polisario Front, the Washington Team authored a blog posting on the MOTM website on March 20, “Day 150 – still hostage: Rosella Urru, two others seized by AQIM sect in Polisario camp.” This posting will be a part of a regular series of updates on the kidnapping as the situation develops. 
On March 27, the Global Post published an op-ed by Jordan Paul, “Why are we perpetuating a source of instability in North Africa?” The op-ed made the case for retargeting non-humanitarian aid destined for the Polisario to stop perpetuating the refugee camps’ deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions and urged US leadership to resolve the Western Sahara conflict. 
In late March, the Washington Team compiled a paper, “Spotlight: The case for redirecting US support for the Polisario-run camps in Algeria, which are becoming a recruiting ground for AQIM, arms and drug traffickers.” The paper provides background information and a chronology of documented incidents and reports linking members of the Polisario Front with AQIM, trafficking, and other illicit activities in the region. It will be widely distributed in April to key contacts in Congress, the media, and think tanks.
Tags : Western Sahara, USA,

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