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Algeria, Mali Distrust Over al Qaeda Fight

Afrol News, Algeria-

Algerian troops defiling

William Ward, commander of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), visited Algeria in November 2009 and was left to meet with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika himself. President Bouteflika welcomed the deepening “strategic partnership” between the US and Algeria, based on a common interest in fighting terrorism.
The top issue at the meeting was the long-announced regional anti-terrorism cooperation. President Bouteflika made it clear to the top US military leader Algeria was taking a lead in these efforts. “Mali’s full cooperation remained elusive, however,” the Algerian President was quoted as saying.

“Mali’s policies have failed to create stability in the north. The result is a lawless environment in which smuggling, along with arms and drug trafficking, enable terrorism,” President Bouteflika had continued.
General Ward informed the President he would visit the Malian capital Bamako after Algiers. Mr Bouteflika urged Mr Ward to tell Malian President Amadou Toumani Touré that “he cannot be a friend to the thieves and victims at the same time.”
Algeria was providing military support to Mali, but President Touré was not being firm against the Al Qaeda terrorists. In the past, President Bouteflika said, Algeria had waited for the chance to debrief terrorist suspects held in Mali, only to find out later that Malian officials

were conducting negotiations for the terrorist’s release back to Al Qaeda at the same time. “It is difficult to cooperate in these conditions,” he was quoted as saying.

Algerian President Bouteflika

Also Algerian Vice-Minister of Defence Abdelmalik Guenaizia in a meeting with the US Ambassador held Malian authorities responsible for the lack of progress. With the armed forces of the four countries establishing a regional command in Tamanrasset, the military had done their job and now politicians needed to do their job, Mr Guenaizia held.

Mr Guenaizia told the US Ambassador that the situation in northern Mali presented “the greatest obstacle to combating terrorism.” The nexus of arms, drug and contraband smuggling in northern Mali created an enabling environment.

Diplomatic cables from several US embassies, published by Wikileaks, reveal that the announced concerted fight against Al Qaeda in the Sahara and Sahel region is moving ahead slowly. Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and Niger had announced a joint effort to hit back at the terrorists.


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