Algeria hostage crisis sparks fears of escalation across region

The Guardian reports: The attack on the Algerian gas field has raised fears of the conflict in Mali becoming an international battle bleeding across the porous borders of the Sahel and Sahara region.

It also presents a major challenge to the military-dominated regime in Algiers – still in the shadow of a decade of bloody civil war – which had been accused of having an ambiguous stance towards the Mali crisis.

Algeria will now firmly be dragged into resolving the Mali conflict, while also dealing with the return of major action by Islamist groups on its home turf.

The hostage-taking has spelled out the complexities of the unrest in the Sahel: a tangled mix of communal tensions, economic struggle, desertification, poverty, criminality, kidnapping and smuggling, which shifts seamlessly across borders.

With six days of French airstrikes failing to erode the Islamist gains in Mali, French special forces prepared to launch a land assault on Wednesday around Diabaly, 250 miles (450 km) from the capital.

France’s aim is to secure the vast desert area seized last year by an Islamist alliance, which combines al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – the terrorist network’s north African wing – with Mali’s homegrown Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (Mojwa) and Ansar Dine rebel groups. But the Algerian hostage drama at the BP oilfield far away to the north at the Algerian-Libyan border marks a turning point and a widening of the game.

Attacks on oil-rich Algeria’s hydrocarbon facilities are very rare, despite the country’s decades of fighting an Islamist insurgency, mostly in the north.

Jon Marks, associate fellow at Chatham House, London’s leading foreign affairs thinktank, said: “The attack is remarkable for a number of reasons.

“If you look at Algeria’s conflict of the 1990s, out of which AQIM sprang, the major oil and gas fields of the deep south, a strategic interest to Europe, were not attacked. Even in Algeria’s bloody history, this is the first time there has been major attack on a hydrocarbon facility.

“It shows the degree to which the events in Mali are an international Sahel and Sahara-wide issue. These groups are international: including Malians, people who came from the Libya conflict, but also from Algeria and Mauritania.”

He said the attack showed how deep-rooted those groups were. “The groups we are now calling AQIM, that the French military are targeting, have roots going back decades in the region. They have been involved in cigarette smuggling, electronic goods smuggling, guns, drugs, a lot of criminality.”

He described it as a potent “interface” where criminality meets politics in an area that is “more and more desperate”. [Continue reading…]

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One thought on “Algeria hostage crisis sparks fears of escalation across region

  1. Hillary Watcher

    Thanks Hillary! Gaddafi surrenders his nuclear weapons at your instance. You reward him, years later, by murdering him in violation of our Constitution and in violation of the Geneva Convention. “We came. We saw. He died. HA HA!!” HRC

    Did we not warn you that all those Stinger Missiles and antitank missiles were going to fall into the wrong hands. You, your husband and your boss and your cocaine cabal partners in the Bush Crime Family have bankrupted America. And now your legacy is coming to past in Mali and Algeria.

    You are so damn smart, Hillary, tell us what we are supposed to do now! We don’t even have enough money is get our aircraft carriers out of their east coast home ports. Americans are being killed or worse yet, taken hostage, in Libya and Algeria. And now the French liberators are being threatened by the very same shoulder fired antiaircraft and anti tank missles that we warned you were going to be taken from Libya!

    You are so damn smart, Hillary, what are we supposed to do now!

    Previous posting:
    Gaddafi, Bin Laden, Clinton, Obama and the rule of Law

    We are a nation of laws. We are signatories to the Geneva Convention. We flooded Libya with CIA agents instructed, among other things, to help the “Rebels” find and capture Moamar Gaddafi. And bring him to justice as provided for by our Constitution and by the Geneva Convention.

    If NATO was able to, with the assistance of the Bush/Clinton/ CIA Cocaine Cabal…if NATO was able to employ smart bombs, Cruise Missiles, radar site jamming and hundreds of CIA agents on the ground, you’d think that they would have equipped the Rebels with stun grenades, tasers and stun guns. And specifically instructed these “Rebels” that, under no circumstances are Gaddafii and his sons and his generals….

    ….under no circumstances were these people to be killed! Because…because, these people know where the 20,000 Stinger Missiles are hidden, throughout this vast desert land. Because these Stinger Missiles will surely be sold to the highest bidders…and will stalk domestic airliners around the globe. For the next thirty years! And furthermore, because we, a Nation of Laws, do not do business that way.

    Finally, I find it ironic that the disbarred Illinois lawyer/president and the lawyer wife of another disbarred /lawyer President….I find it ironic that these two lawyer politicians, who are increasingly unpopular with Citizens who “elected” them….I find it ironic that it is these two lawyers who are, once again, crowing about the role that they played in yet another political assassination! In violation of the very Constitution that they swore to protect and defend.

    Hillary Watcher
    Little Rock

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