- The Washington Times - Monday, November 7, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

We won. The dictator Moammar Gadhafi is dead. But did we really win, or have we simply shifted the battlefield into another area?

For weeks, there have been reports about the disappearance in Libya of hundreds and perhaps even thousands of weapons - from light arms to mines and explosives to shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles. U.S. and NATO teams have rushed to Libya to find these arms, especially the surface-to-air missiles. We have yet to see a report on the recovery of these weapons.

What is known for sure is that this weaponry has made its way into the Sahel Region of North Africa, as well as areas in East, West and Central Africa.

NATO’s Libyan adventure, as gallant as it may have been, was the perfect opening for opportunists and extreme groups. They now can obtain state-of-the art weaponry to resupply their arsenals. These extremists now have the arms they need to push their ideology and causes further into Africa, a continent that is slowly rising to its feet following years of neglect, mismanagement, corruption, wars and plain brutality against its people from all sides.

The players are numerous and as lethal as it gets. In the West, there is Boko Haram, based in Nigeria. In the Northwest, there is al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and in the East is Somalia’s al-Shabab. The United States recently learned of the potential creation of a supergroup of Islamic extremists in Africa. We already have increased our troop strength in Uganda from 100 to 300. Can we expect to see 1,000 troops in Africa by Christmas and 3,000 by mid-2012? Where will it stop?

It seems we are rushing out of Iraq simply to open another front in Africa. We need answers from our leaders about how they intend to use our young men and women of the military, a treasure we can no longer sacrifice.

I. JOHN PAPATHANASSIOU

Vienna, Va.

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