Algeria is battling a vicious attack on its oil & gas infrastructure from terrorists whose aims remain unknown. Many foreigners have been taken hostage which includes many western citizens. Given the history of Algeria’s militant past and two decade insurgency (which started when Islamic Front won the elections but was forced away from taking over the government) , it is not uncommon for the country to face terrorist attacks. But it is the first time that an oil & gas installation has been attacked and such a large number of foreign hostages have been taken hostage.
There could be three possible reasons for this and any other attacks that are country happening in Islamic Maghreb.
1. The installation in question is near the border between Algeria & Libya which gives rise to the possibility that attackers, though thought to be mostly Algerian nationals, came from Libya. Gaffafi’s government was staunchly against militant Islam and by killing him; West has left a large vacuum & swath of ungoverned land in Sahara desert. It will take years for Libya to bring de -facto city states all over coastal Libya under control of the central government but until that time, these rebels will find refuge with their sympathizers within Libya.
2. There is also the Mali factor. France with the help of Britain has launched an offensive in Northern Mali to save the whole country from falling in the hands of Islamist rebels who initially wanted independence for Tuareg areas but now are aiming to capture whole of Mali. That presented a very acute challenge for the West and especially for France which has a long colonial history with Mali. Given the fact that this attack started with days of French offensive could signal that attackers were trying to prove a point and making sure that West knows the price it may have pay to for thwarting an Islamist takeover in Mali.
3. The fact that all pro west government are managing to hang on but all the anti west governments (apart from Egypt) are under attack by the so called Arab Spring has spread resentment all over the Muslim world and it is thought rightly or wrongly that most of these revolutions are manufactured revolutions to target any governments who are perceived to be anti western in their outlook. Regime change seems to be only happening where it is convenient.
It may not ever be possible for the outside world to know what triggered this attack as all those who took part in this attack will be killed and even if any of them are captured, it may not be convenient for the government of Algeria to give out all the details of reasons behind this attack.
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