Is a N. African security bloc in the making?

Tripoli, Libya at Night (NASA, International S...

Tripoli, Libya at Night (NASA, International Space Station, 04/18/13) (Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center)

Linda S. Heard

Published — Tuesday 3 June 2014

SO-called freedom activists are beating their chests over the landslide victory of Field Marshall Abdel-Fatah El-Sissi, set to be inaugurated as Egypt’s new president next week. And they perceive the Libyan people’s backing of Gen. Khalifa Hiftar’s anti-militia onslaught as a step back from their revolutionary goals. The idea of strongmen prioritizing stability over individual freedoms is anathema to many, but the stark truth is that western-style democracy cannot flourish amid a climate of violence.
The misbehavior of the few has had a negative impact on the majority and now ordinary people in Libya and Egypt just want to get on with their lives. Many who sought democracy now equate it with anarchy, a sad truth that is incontestable among ordinary working people and owners of small businesses, experiencing pain in their pockets. They’ve rightly or wrongly concluded that there’s no democracy without stability.
That’s glaringly true in Libya that’s become awash with heavy weapons, feuding militias and foreign militants. Almost every household has a gun for self-defense. That was not how Libyans imagined their country post-revolution. They didn’t go to the streets calling for the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi in order to get a lawless land reminiscent of the Wild West or an impotent government unable to keep them safe or even to gain control over Libya’s main economic resource — oil and gas. And Egyptians didn’t topple Mubarak to get serial protests, growing joblessness or unsafe streets prompting the flight of investors and tourists.
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France expels five radical imams

France last week banned four Muslim preachers from entering the country for a conference of the Union of Islamic Organisations.

PARIS: France has expelled two Islamic radicals and plans to deport three more as part of its crackdown following last month’s attacks by an Islamist who shot dead seven people, officials said Monday.

An Algerian radical and a Malian imam were sent back to their home countries on Monday, the interior ministry said in a statement.

A Saudi imam would not be let back into the country, a Turkish imam and a Tunisian radical would also shortly be expelled, and others would follow, the statement added.

At an election rally in the eastern city of Nancy on Monday, President Nicolas Sarkozy said he was sending a very clear message.

“All those who make remarks contrary to the values of the Republic will be instantly put outside the territory of the French Republic, there will no exception, there will be no leniency,” he said.

French police arrested 19 people in a crackdown on suspected Islamist networks in dawn raids on Friday as Sarkozy made the battle against extremism a keynote of his re-election campaign.

Of those, 16 were still in custody on Monday, sources close to the investigation said.

Some of the arrests were made in the southwest city of Toulouse, where gunman Mohamed Merah was shot dead by police last month after a 32-hour siege at a flat there.

Of the two deported Monday, Algerian activist Ali Belhadad had served 18 months in France for his part in a 1994 attack on a Marrakesh hotel in which gunmen killed two people and wounded two others, said the ministry.

Belhadad, who had in recent weeks re-established links with the radical Islamist movement, had been deported to Algeria, the ministry said. Continue reading

CIA and Algiers’ AQIM differences

English: Thematic Maps of Algeria' economic ac...

Image via Wikipedia

26/01/2012

The Algerian regime’s politico-military response to AQIM is causing concern among the Western powers that have military forces in the Sahel. A French general officer who wished to remain anonymous told Intelligence Online that the situation was “a big black hole”. In Washington the same view is held, and with good reason.

For several months, there has been a stand-off between the Africom command, headed by General Carter Ham, and General Ahmed Gaid Salah, the chief of staff of the Algerian Army, over Algeria’s refusal to open its air space to U.S. Air Force and CIA drones in zones where the terrorists are believed to be in hiding.

This stance is not only to do with Algeria’s refusal on principle to have a Western military presence on its soil. It is also because Algeria would rather lead the operation against AQIM itself, in coordination with the forces of neighbouring Mauritania, Niger and Mali, with whom it has set up a joint intelligence centre in Tamanrasset. The arms that have found their way from Gaddafi’s arsenals to AQIM have only strengthened Algeria’s conviction that AQIM is a regional problem that they are the best placed to deal with.

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