In Algiers, officials showed the best of themselves as they received the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday. When she landed in the Algerian capital early in the morning, her counterpart Mourad Medelci was on the tarmac of the airport.
According to members of the U.S. delegation, if the welcome was very warm, the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs went straight to the point when they were still in the car that took Hillary Clinton to her Algiers residence. Americans, by their own admission, do not expect a lot of fun in Algeria. During lunch at El Mouradia with a surprisingly fit Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algerian opinions were expressed very clearly.
The Algerian President is said to have explained with numerous arguments to the U.S. Secretary of State, that foreign military intervention in northern Mali might not only further radicalize Azawad populations, but also those of Southern Algeria where 50 thousand Tuaregs live, as well as people from Niger, Chad and East Mauritania. Algerians fear that Western military presence in the Sahel might fuel even more the ambitions of terrorist jihadists from North Africa.
During this brief visit, Abdelaziz Bouteflika has had many opportunities to explain the Algerian plans to the Americans, consisting in the deployment of an African military force without the direct intervention of Algeria on the field. A position that the State Department does not understand, aware that the non-participation of Algiers in such an intervention may doom the operation to failure.
Today, Washington and Paris seem to be alone in a risky area, and that reminds Americans of the “quagmire” of Somalia, from where they had to withdraw in haste, and pay the piper alone.