Mauritania and Mali have apparently patched up their diplomatic rift from earlier this year.
The armies of Mali and Mauritania for the first time have set up joint patrols in the northern Mali desert to boost the fight against Al-Qaeda militants, an AFP journalist witnessed Saturday.
Several hundred armed Malian soldiers and vehicles joined Mauritanian troops who arrived last week, close to 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Timbuktu.
“You see, we are brothers, our goal is the same: to ensure the security of our people, to not leave the land to terrorists, preventing the organisation from attacking,” a Mauritanian soldier told AFP.
“Today we are in the Malian desert. Tomorrow, together we can, we will go into the Mauritanian desert. The problems of Mali are the problems of Mauritania and the problems of Mauritania are those of Mali, ” said a Malian officer.
These joint patrols, the first ever held between the two armies will continue “for as long as it takes,” a source close to the two armies told AFP.
The partnership is potentially an unequal one, as Mauritania’s prior solo ventures into northern Mali might indicate Mauritania’s willingness to chase AQIM there with or without the Malian government’s permission. Still, this cooperation could yield greater success for both countries and their counterterrorism efforts.