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Sat Jan 19, 2013, 12:33 AM

Algerian Stance Spoils U.S. Strategy For Region

Source: Washington Post

Craig Whitlock, Published: January 18

LONDON — The hostage crisis in Algeria has upended the Obama administration’s strategy for coordinating an international military campaign against al-Qaeda fighters in North Africa, leaving U.S., European and African leaders even more at odds over how to tackle the problem.

For months, U.S. officials have intensively lobbied Algeria — whose military is by far the strongest in North Africa — to help intervene in next-door Mali, where jihadists and other rebels have established a well-defended base of operations. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other high-ranking U.S. officials made repeated visits to Algiers in the fall in a bid to persuade the oil-rich country to contribute troops to a U.N.-backed military force in Mali.

But Algeria’s unilateral decision to attack kidnappers at a natural gas plant — while shunning outside help, imposing a virtual information blackout and disregarding international pleas for caution — has dampened hopes that it might cooperate militarily in Mali, U.S. officials said. The crisis has strained ties between Algiers and Washington and increased doubts about whether Algeria can be relied upon to work regionally to dismantle al-Qaeda’s franchise in North Africa.

“The result is that the U.S. will have squandered six to eight months of diplomacy for how it wants to deal with Mali,” said Geoff D. Porter, an independent North African security analyst. “At least it will have been squandered in the sense that the Algerians will likely double down on their recalcitrance to get involved. They’ve already put themselves in a fortress-like state.”

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/algerian-reticence-spoils-us-strategy-for-region/2013/01/18/7af23fbe-617c-11e2-89a2-2eabfad24542_story.html



I concede that this article will be locked out of LBN as "Al Gore exercises Apple stock options worth $29 million" takes precedence...but I'll put this up just the same.

Will repost in the morning...if needed in GD.

19 replies, 3398 views

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Arrow 19 replies Author Time Post
Reply Algerian Stance Spoils U.S. Strategy For Region (Original post)
Purveyor Jan 2013 OP
Alamuti Lotus Jan 2013 #1
SleeplessinSoCal Jan 2013 #2
karynnj Jan 2013 #17
marshall Jan 2013 #19
Fire Walk With Me Jan 2013 #3
bhikkhu Jan 2013 #4
dipsydoodle Jan 2013 #5
Selatius Jan 2013 #8
dipsydoodle Jan 2013 #10
bhikkhu Jan 2013 #12
dipsydoodle Jan 2013 #6
dipsydoodle Jan 2013 #7
Mr.Bill Jan 2013 #9
leveymg Jan 2013 #11
dipsydoodle Jan 2013 #13
leveymg Jan 2013 #14
dipsydoodle Jan 2013 #16
OldRedneck Jan 2013 #15
daleo Jan 2013 #18

Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 12:48 AM

1. Algeria has been fighting one of the parties (AQIM, as it is now called) for years

 

correspondingly, the slightly dressed up military dictatorship in Algeria has little interest in French adventurism compared to their English and American patrons. This troika has been trying to pressure the Algerian military to invade Mali since day four of the present rebellion (*), with roughly the same "get bent" reply they appear to be receiving now.


(*)--day's one and two were spent finding Mali on the map, on day three the leaders asked their bankers how much money they were plundering from Mali's gold mines, and thus on day four sprung into action.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 01:18 AM

2. Do we know who actually has the most leverage in North Africa?

I'm assuming that this isn't just a matter of the state and defense departments. John Kerry had better be up to the task. I feel somewhat assured by his credentials when it comes to keeping the peace and foreign relations.

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Response to SleeplessinSoCal (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 06:49 PM

17. Though I admire Kerry immensely, one thing that the US needs to realize is that

only when the needs and goals of other country's are bettered by the action the US wants. There have been many times where Kerry has spoken in terms like this - so, it may be that he will work for win/win solutions and a humbler foreign policy.

There is no one I trust more than JK, but I think there will be situations where some areas of the world will not want what we do.

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Response to karynnj (Reply #17)

Sun Jan 20, 2013, 03:17 PM

19. There are many cultural differences

We have to learn to accept things that differ from our ways and values, such as Algeria's solution to the hostage crisis. Not everyone does things the same way.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 01:37 AM

3. Say. Algeria has OIL. And Mali has uranium, Gold, Petroleum, Strategic Minerals...

 

Braving Algeria Desert, Oil Firms Reaped Rewards

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323468604578247972035827746.html?mod=europe_home

Sorry, there's a paywall, but the headline presents the gist.


TruthBeckons ‏@BeckonsTruth

"The War on Mali. What you Should Know: An Eldorado of Uranium, Gold, Petroleum, Strategic Minerals …"
http://fb.me/2z4s0BASH

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 02:03 AM

4. So there were over 700 hostages, and the Algerian army rescued about 670 of them

I hope the few remaining are freed as well, but so far it sounds like they took care of things very well.

So they made a quick decision and acted decisively without asking for permission from the traditional white patriarchy...s'what the WSJ's "analysis" sounds like to me.

From an Algerian perspective, I think the strong and independent response is exactly the signal they needed to send to the militants - that they aren't weak and they aren't puppets.

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Response to bhikkhu (Reply #4)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 04:45 AM

5. It would seem from analysis and reports here in the UK

as broadcast by our tv news stations that Algeria's policy is based the perception that hostages can be assumed to be dead and only hitting their captors almost immediately, without negotiation, helps prevent a reoccurrence of events. In general the UK ex-hostages on their way back to the UK were full of praise for the Algerian recovery effort.

What surprised me was the sheer distance that location was from Algiers : same distance as Algiers to London.

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Response to bhikkhu (Reply #4)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 05:21 AM

8. It seems Washington and London were unhappy with Algeria's ham-fisted and unilateral violent action.

They were likely hoping the hostage situation would be resolved without the scenario of Algerian Army and Air Force units bombing the location where the hostages were and then sending troops to overrun the location guns blazing.

On the other hand, if Algeria's military forces can reach into Mali like that and do damage to these religious fundamentalists and Tuareg nationalists, the other question on Washington's mind is what happens to all the gold and uranium resources that Mali has that Algeria could incidentally be in a position to capture. If Algeria decided to go it alone and occupy northern Mali to destroy the hideouts, they would become de facto controllers of these rich mineral resources whether Washington wants it or not.

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Response to Selatius (Reply #8)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 06:36 AM

10. Occupy northern Mali ?

Northern Mali is bigger than Afghanistan but with less than a third of the population of Afghanistan. The actual background to the issues in the north is the refusal of the Malian government to give the Tuaregs independence - the jihadists jumped on the back of that.

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Response to Selatius (Reply #8)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 12:29 PM

12. Again, "ham-fisted and unilateral violence" seems to be reserved for certain parties

and condemned when traditional white privilege hasn't gotten its share in.

In any case, a situation where 95% of hostages were rescued in a violent confrontation with heavily armed militants - that doesn't sound "ham-fisted" to me. If it had been our marines doing the job, we'd say it was the act of heroes, and expertly carried out.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 04:53 AM

6. Algeria siege: Hostage nations concerned over situation

Nations with hostages being held by militants at an Algerian gas plant have expressed concern at the ongoing siege.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the situation as "extremely difficult and dangerous".

While state media says hundreds of hostages have been freed at the remote In Amenas desert gas facility, about 30 foreigners are still unaccounted for.

State-run APS news agency says 12 Algerian and foreign workers have died since rescue efforts began on Thursday.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21095061

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 05:00 AM

7. Algerian hostage crisis: last group of jihadists hold out in gas plant

A small group of jihadists have barricaded themselves into a corner of the In Amenas natural gas plant in eastern Algeria, where they are surrounded by government forces after a fierce battle that reportedly left 30 hostages dead and a similar number still unaccounted for.

Radio France reported that seven to 10 surviving members of the Signers in Blood faction who attacked the site on Wednesday had retreated into the machine room at the sprawling desert site, adding that they were armed with explosives. But it was unclear how many hostages they still had with them.

The authorities said that more than 570 Algerian workers had been freed following a military rescue mission on Thursday and that 100 of 132 foreign contractors taken hostage at the gas field had been rescued or had escaped.

>

Cameron spoke twice to the Algerian prime minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, on Friday, to offer the help of UK special forces, and came away from his talks believing the Algerian government would not mount another unilateral all-out attack on the gas plant.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/18/algerian-hostage-crisis-jihaists

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 05:28 AM

9. Algeria - another one of the half-dozen countries

we haven't invaded because we didn't elect John McCain president.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 09:47 AM

11. The Algerian military has been locked in a bloody civil war w/Islamicists since Gulf War One ended.

The constant round of kidnappings, assassinations, coups, reprisal killings, massacres, and holy war terror bombings has been going on almost non-stop since 1991. Both sides are guilty of massive human rights abuses. The bloody rescue mission is just the latest in a long string of heavy-handed acts by the Algerian military.

Before there was the GWOT there was Algeria, and it strikes me as incredibly blind for the U.S. State Department and this Administration to be wasting a lot of time trying to enlist the Algerian military, with its appalling record, as the regional gendarme. What were they thinking?

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Response to leveymg (Reply #11)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 03:46 PM

13. US strategy for region ?

They don't think - just act in their own selfish interest.


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Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #13)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 05:11 PM

14. We don't really seem to have had one, except don't get in the way of the Saudis or the Israelis.

That's about what the regional strategy has been during the first Admin, we'll see if there is more balance and sense of direction now with Kerry, Hagel and some other key changes.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #14)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 06:00 PM

16. I was actually querying

that Africa expects the US to have its own strategy for it.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 05:48 PM

15. So?

There's one and only one way to deal with these "terrorists:" Kill 'em. Kill 'em all, kill 'em quickly.

Now, I realize some of the folks here on DU will recoil in horror at my suggestion that we just kill these sonsabitches but there's a quote, the origin of which is unclear but it speaks to the world situation today: "We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."

I served 28 years in the Army and I often was one of those rough men out on the tip of the spear.

Colonel Jessup, Jack Nicholson's character in the movie "A Few Good Men," is the villian. But he was right.

Col. Jessep: " Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to. "

I doubt that the Algerian action will do much to interfere with long-range US policy. In fact, we should be glad the Algerians acted quickly. Yes, several innocent hostages died. War has its own calculus.

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Response to OldRedneck (Reply #15)

Sun Jan 20, 2013, 03:08 PM

18. Basically, that's the way terrorists see things too

If I recall correctly, the movie was about an American soldier who was murdered by his comrades and had nothing to do with terrorism. It is true that one of the murderers wrapped himself in the flag as justification.

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