Algeria: Old Grudges Get In The Way


March 18, 2010: Government efforts to foster regional cooperation, to chase down Islamic radicals trying to hide out in desert border areas, has run into a snag. Algeria does not want to deal with Morocco (which is willing to work with Algeria). It's all about a dispute over territory bordering both countries. The "West Sahara", a large strip of sparsely inhabited desert south of Morocco, along the Atlantic coast, was annexed by Morocco in the 1960s, and this was disputed by some of the half million residents, who were backed by Algeria. The locals lost, and Algeria is a sore loser.

To justify not cooperating, Algeria insists Morocco is not a Sahel (the semi desert band of land south of the Sahara) state. While technically true, Morocco is also very much infested by Islamic radicals, and has its hands full keeping its Islamic radicals under control.  Algeria only cooperates in rare and desperate (for Algeria) cases. Much international pressure is being applied to Algeria to cooperate with Morocco. But four decades of hostility is difficult to overcome. Meanwhile, terrorists are exploiting this, using Morocco and Algeria to move drugs and weapons. The lack of cooperation between the two nations makes it more difficult to hunt down and catch the smugglers and terrorists. While the local al Qaeda franchise is turning into a bunch of apolitical gangsters, many members still yearn to kill for the cause. So when these gangs make enough money, Algerian police expect to see them trying to organize more urban terror bombings.

March 17, 2010: In the capital, a court convicted nine men of terrorist activities (from killing to recruiting) and issued sentences of from 18 months to 20 years. Some of the cases were three years old. There are few new cases




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