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January 21, 2013

Death Toll Continues To Climb In Algeria

Posted in: Uncategorized

David Cameron

David Cameron predicts decades of struggle in North Africa

In what may be a case study on how not to handle a hostage crisis, the death toll from the Algerian government’s raid on the BP natural gas plant has risen:

The death toll from the bloody terrorist siege at a natural gas plant in Algeria has climbed past 80 as the country’s forces searching the refinery for explosives found dozens more bodies, many so badly disfigured they could not immediately be identified, a security official said…

The government said after the assault that at least 32 extremists and 23 hostages were killed. Then, on Sunday, Algerian bomb squads sent in to blow up or defuse the explosives found 25 bodies, said the security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation…

Algerian spokesman Mohamed Said said Sunday that he expects the death toll to rise.

“I am very concerned that this preliminary death toll will be, unfortunately, revised upwards in the coming hours,” he said.

The standoff and subsequent bloodbath have lead to less sanguine attitudes among the countries looking to import Algeria’s energy resources with British Prime Minister David Cameron predicting a generation long struggle in North Africa:

The West faces a decades-long battle to defeat al-Qa’ida in North Africa, David Cameron warned today, as he signaled a dramatic shift in the UK’s fight against terrorism…

Britain will use its chairmanship of the G8 to focus militarily and diplomatically on the Sahara region, following the hostage crisis which claimed the lives of up to six Britons. One Middle East expert likened the long-term impact of the atrocity in Algeria to the 9/11 attacks…

Mr Cameron spelt out the scale of the challenge posed by al-Qa’ida-affiliated groups operating in the region. “It will require a response that is about years, even decades, rather than months,” he said. “And it requires a response that is painstaking, that is tough but also intelligent, but above all has an absolutely iron resolve. And that is what we will deliver over these coming years.

“What we face is an extremist, Islamist, al-Qa’ida-linked terrorist group. Just as we had to deal with that in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, so the world needs to come together to deal with this threat in North Africa… We need to work with others to defeat the terrorists and to close down the ungoverned spaces where they thrive with all the means that we have.”

Cameron’s rather transparent call for a new imperialism notwithstanding, questions remain on the role the United States will play with AfriCom. Will America join Cameron’s crusade?

North Africa is home to a considerable amount of energy resources as well as groups easily classified as Islamist which of course always means they can be construed as Al-Qaeda linked. The real question is, given the involvement of China in North Africa, if the U.S and British powers still have the muscle and resolve to dictate the terms of how the North African energy market operates. Drones won’t be enough.

Photo by bizgovuk under Creative Commons license

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