Monday, 19 November 2012

Algeria warns against intervention

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's security advisor, Kalel Rezzag Bara, speaking on local national radio on 10 November, warned that military intervention in Mali was currently a useless step as it would only worsen the situation. He said that a peaceful settlement of the Malian crisis was still possible and that “It's necessary to reach an acceptable agreement to avoid the spill over of the Malian conflict into neighbouring nations."

Bara also said that the international community should distinguish between Tuareg rebels, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), who carry political claims and terror groups belonging to al-Qa'ida organisation and drug trafficking gangs. Interestingly, as part of Algeria's attempt to muddy the waters Bara included the Islamist groups Ansar al-Din alongside the MNLA when the former is in fact largely a creation of the DRS. Its leader, Iyad ag Ghaly has been a close associated of the DRS since the 1980s and is even spoken of in some quarters as “Algeria's man in Mali”.

Ansar al-Din, created in December 2011, is playing the lead role amongst the Islamists. The key question is whether Algeria still has effective control over it and whether the international community will believe its recent more conciliatory remarks. Kamel Bara is doing his bit in trying to get the international community to see Ansar al-Din as more allied to the Tuareg rebels than AQIM which has not been the case. Ansar al-Din's more conciliatory moves are part of Algeria's desperate moves to achieve a peaceful settlement and so prevent military intervention.

We should add that Ansar al-Din - along with AQIM and the DRS – heads the list in the International Criminal Court's (ICC) preliminary investigations into war crimes in northern Mali.

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

© 2012 Menas Associates

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