Monday, 6 December 2010

UK working closely with Algeria on counter-terrorism

Following the announcement by British MP Alistair Burt at the end of his two-day visit of to Algiers on 11-12th November, the second meeting of the UK Algerian joint committee on counter-terrorism met in London for two full days of talks on 29-30th November.

Burt, who is Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), with responsibility for the Middle East and North Africa and counter terrorism, spoke effusively to the media during his visit to Algiers three weeks ago about UK-Algerian cooperation in counterterrorism.

The first, somewhat tentative meeting of the bilateral committee was held on 16-17th March 2010. The end of November meeting in London was the first full-blown 'operational' meeting of the two 'countries' delegations.

The Algerian delegation was headed by President Bouteflika's counterterrorism advisor and envoy Kamal Razzak Bara. The UK delegation was headed by the FCO's Director of Defence and Strategic Threats Simon Manley. An Al Jazeera report at the start of the meetings described Manley as having strong working relations and contacts with both domestic (MI5) and foreign (MI6) British intelligence agencies and the British Ministry of Defence, as well as internal counterterrorism security agencies.

British officials heaped praise on Algeria's record on terrorism and made it clear that the UK would not only be working increasingly closely with Algeria's DRS but that it would be providing it with material, intelligence, training and other such co-operative needs. The close working relationship between UK and Algerian counterterrorism is demonstrated by the fact that that the FCO's special advisor on terrorism in NW Africa, Patrick Tobin, is now almost permanently based in Algiers.

Major General Robin Searby, who was a member of the British delegation and the UK Prime Minister's adviser on counterterrorism for North Africa said that: "For the UK, Algeria has already great experience [in counterterrorism] and we will offer full assistance to the Algerian Government in its fight against Al Qaida in the Maghreb. The Algerian government is very strong in combating terrorism and the United Kingdom is confident and optimistic about this approach."

For more news and expert analysis about Algeria please see Algeria Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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