The Atlantic Council’s Michael S. Ansari Africa Center organized a briefing on Capitol Hill on “Collective Security Threats in North and West Africa” featuring a keynote presentation by former French Prime Minister François Fillon and remarks by Senator Chris Coons, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs.

Also participating in the event, moderated by Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham, was Senior Fellow Rudolph Atallah, who provided a running translation of Mr. Fillon’s comments.

In his presentation, Mr. Fillon defended the urgency, necessity, and legitimacy of the French military intervention against al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other Islamist militants who had seized control of northern Mali last year. However, he also underscored the need for a political solution to the crisis in the country through the reestablishment of the constitutional order overthrown by the coup in 2012. He called for US and European cooperation to rebuild the Malian military as well as to prevent, in the meantime, further spread of violent extremism in the Sahel, the Maghreb, and beyond.