Friday, April 12, 2024

Terrorism spreads to Algeria

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ON SUNDAY, United States President Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term in office. He will have to shoulder the power and burden of the presidency in an increasingly turbulent world darkened by domestic discord and crises abroad.
Obama has already said that he would root his second term in the crusade to build a more equitable economy which powered his triumph over Republican Mitt Romney but he is destined to face stiff resistance.
Many analysts feel that Obama’s legacy will be determined by the way he handles the huge financial crises facing the United States which will impact on the economies of the rest of world which are reeling under the impact of the global crisis.
Though Obama is well revered globally, there seems to be a “curse” that often strikes during the second term: Richard Nixon resigned; Bill Clinton was impeached; George W. Bush’s image was shattered by Iraq and Hurricane Katrina and Ronald Reagan’s legacy was marred by the Iran-Contra scandal.
While Obama contemplates his second term, the situation in northern Africa would be high on his agenda. France’s military intervention in the African nation of Mali has set off a chain reaction of events in other countries, such as Somalia and Algeria, with the potential to expand even further.
France’s President Francois Hollande has defended his country’s decision to send several hundred troops to Mali to battle Al-Qaeda-affiliated insurgents as the right move, and one that was absolutely “necessary”.
A horrific hostage drama at an oil facility in the deep south of Algeria has been the most spectacular instance of fallout from the French decision. Islamist militants took hostage many people of differing nationalities, setting off alarm bells in the West as they confront this latest act of transnational terrorism.
Though we were lukewarm on Western enthusiasm for the so-called “Arab Spring”, it has created a political vacuum in these countries in nearby Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, particularly Libya, where there is an abundance of weapons and a deficit of state power.
The rise of radicalism in Mali, Chad, Algeria, Niger and many other parts of Central African is too serious an issue to be dealt with on a pick-and-choose basis. Too much gun diplomacy in Africa has led to fragmentation of political forces.
Whatever the historical roots of these developments, “Arab Spring” countries must shore up their defences. A joint effort is needed by former European colonial powers to help Algeria police its vast territory, and especially the porous areas in the Sahara.
If they fail to do so, political and economic destabilization will be the inevitable result. It’s time to produce a true global strategy to combat terrorism in all regions of the world.

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