NAPLES, Italy – Allied Joint Force Command Naples hosted visitors from academic, military, government and non-governmental organizations for a workshop catered around security challenges to NATO’s south, April 9 to 10, 2018.
The event, titled NATO and Shared Security Challenges in the South: Understanding Drivers of Instability, comes at a moment when NATO is adapting to address security concerns the Alliance shares with partners to its south. At the same time, NATO is also preparing objectives on the south to be discussed and agreed at the upcoming Brussels Summit in July.
According to event organizers, a goal of the workshop aimed to inform preparations by addressing broad and cross-cutting themes in relation to drivers of instability in the Middle East and Africa.
A sampling of workshop topics included tracking the Middle East and North African region’s intersecting conflicts, peacekeeping in the presence of non-state actors and migrant vulnerability to human trafficking and exploitation. Several roundtable discussions were also held centered around political, strategic, economic and environmental drivers.
NATO has lasting partnerships with 12 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region for more than two decades and the Alliance has been involved in practical cooperation with the African Union for more than 12 years.
While addressing workshop attendees, U.S. Navy Admiral James Foggo, commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, pointed out that NATO’s partners are facing new threats and challenges as they seek to enhance political dialogue and practical cooperation with the Alliance. The Admiral said demonstrating responsiveness to partners is how NATO can best demonstrate its adaptation to challenges from its south.
"Which is why we have chosen to focus our workshop on the conditions conductive to state vulnerability, the drivers and sustainers of insecurity and conflict,” said Foggo. "We have deliberately adopted a broad, inclusive approach to our consideration of root causes, looking not just at hard security, but also seeking your expertise on the economic, environmental and human factors driving instability.”
Larry Gbevlo-Lartey, who works for an African Union established center for counter-terrorism, stressed during an interview that local communities have to become better structured and empowered.
"It’s a complete fight for hearts and minds of local communities, and the governments are losing…the terrorists are winning,” said Gbevlo-Lartey. "When lights go off in New York, it has nothing to do with Donald Trump. It has to do with the mayor of New York.”
The workshop occurred as JFC Naples continues to develop the new NATO Strategic Direction South Hub, which opened last September. The Hub, under the roof and lead of JFC Naples, is designed to focus on a variety of current and potential issues to include destabilization, potential terrorism, radicalization, migration and environmental concerns. A role of the new center is to coordinate and work alongside agencies outside of the NATO and national military structures as they concentrate on southern regions to include the Middle East, North Africa and Sahel, sub-Saharan Africa and adjacent areas, waters and airspace.
"It is a new way of working for an Alliance approaching its 70th birthday,” said Foggo. "I have tasked the Hub to coordinate, to consult and to communicate: to link NATO, our Allies, our partners, our partner organizations, experts from the region and from the wider international community, in order to maximize understanding and minimize duplication.”
Comfort Ero, Crisis Group’s Africa program director, oversees the organization’s work in west, central, southern Africa and in the Horn of Africa. During an interview, Ero opined that in many African crisis situations, what’s missing is early action and prevention.
The 17-year Crisis Group veteran said the workshop was a valuable experience and something she hopes will continue in the future.
"It gives everybody a chance to understand positions and where you’re coming from,” said Ero. "There is no one actor that can do it alone…There has to be a division of labor, who does what best.”
Story by JFC Naples Public Affairs Office