Britain says to act on North Africa terror threat

LONDON Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:12pm EST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Monday it would increase counter-terrorism and intelligence aid to Algeria and consider giving more help to France to fight Islamists in Mali, but ruled out any prospect of direct British military intervention in Africa.

Prime Minister David Cameron last week warned of the need to tackle a "large and existential terrorist threat" from different parts of the world. But a wariness about getting bogged down in another Afghanistan-style conflict may be restraining Britain.

Addressing parliament after last week's hostage-taking and siege in Algeria in which 37 foreigners - including at least three Britons - were killed [ID:nL6N0AP4TU], Cameron said a "patient, intelligent, but tough" approach was the best way to defeat terrorism.

"We will contribute British intelligence and counter-terrorism assets to an international effort to find and dismantle the network that planned and ordered the brutal assault," he said, referring to the hostage crisis.

Battling to slash a big budget deficit and now trying to slim down its armed forces, Britain can ill-afford another major military intervention. It is preparing to withdraw its troops from a long and costly mission in Afghanistan in 2014.

Cameron emphasized the "long-standing and deep" root causes of terrorism and pledged to help bolster democracy and the rule of law in places at risk of Islamist militancy.

Aside from participating in the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan, Britain was also the United States' main ally in the 2003 Iraq war.

"I think we've learned lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq - you can get yourself into something and find it's very difficult to get out," said Eric Grove of the University of Salford's international security and war studies department.

The U.S. response to the Algeria crisis has so far been cautious and relatively low key.

Cameron said North Africa was becoming a "magnet for jihadists" and experts fear it could eventually become a springboard for attacks on the West, drawing comparisons with al Qaeda's use of Afghanistan as a safe haven.

However, with mixed results at best after more than 10 years of fighting Taliban Islamist insurgents in Afghanistan, the question of how to constrain militant Islam remains fraught.

"The concern is - similar to Syria - that you end up with a type of Afghanistan ... in the region, where, out of reach of the West, a very strong Islamist culture embraces an al Qaeda narrative," a senior Western intelligence source said, referring to Syria's civil war where jihadists have become prominent among rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

"But there is a huge dose of uncertainty on how the situation develops. The question is: do you just let it all happen or do you do something? And then what do you do?"

NO MALI INTERVENTION

Jihadist militants asserted that their attack on a natural gas complex in the Algerian desert was in response to French military action against Islamist insurgents in neighboring Mali. But experts say the scale and sophistication of the attack indicate it was planned earlier.

Perceptions of a link between the Algeria hostage crisis and the French military mission had raised expectations that Western powers could increase their involvement in the Mali intervention, including providing combat troops.

Cameron's spokesman said Britain had pledged "tens, not hundreds" of troops to a European Union mission to train Malian government forces but he ruled out direct military intervention.

The prime minister instead pledged to consider increasing military aid to French forces. Britain is already providing France with two C-17 military transport aircraft for Mali.

"We'll be looking at other transport and surveillance assets that we can let the French use to help them in what they are doing," Cameron said. The government's security council is to discuss the issue on Tuesday.

More broadly, Cameron said he would use Britain's presidency of the Group of Eight industrialized nations this year to ensure the issue of terrorism and the Western response to it is "at the top of the agenda".

(Additional reporting by Andrew Osborn and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (1)
DeanMJackson wrote:
The article reads, “Cameron said North Africa was becoming a “magnet for jihadists” and experts fear it could eventually become a springboard for attacks on the West, drawing comparisons with al Qaeda’s use of Afghanistan as a safe haven.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the “terrorist” attack in Algeria was conducted by the United States for the express purpose of increasing Western presence in Africa. Why? Because the “War on Terror” is a cover for the still on going Cold War (the “collapse” of the USSR was a strategic ruse under the “Long-Range Policy”, the “new” more subtle strategy all Communist nations signed onto in 1960 to defeat the West with), and naturally the West doesn’t like China (always the ally of the USSR) in Africa monopolizing strategic minerals and searching for oil.

Unfortunately for the West, its leaders are either traitors or worse…incompetent, because (1) Moscow and Beijing wants the West’s militaries outside their respective countries, where such militaries can be easily destroyed piecemeal (the carnage and destruction the West is perpetrating around the world proves to the targeted nations suffering such trauma that the West itself is contemptible. Those targeted nations will join with the Communists if for no other reason than to stop the never-ending wars and resulting carnage.) ; and (2) Moscow and Beijing’s time scale for neutralizing the United States won’t take decades (once China initiates the next major disinformation operation under the “Long-Range Policy”…the fraudulent collapse of the Chinese Communist government…Mexico will internationalize the manufactured “drug wars” there, which by that time such “drug wars” will have spread throughout Mexico. Mexico will ask its ally China, now “democratic” China, to “assist” it in combating the “drug cartels”. Needless to say, China won’t be in Mexico to assist Mexico combat the “drug cartels”, for the “drug cartels” were created by Mexico City (in consultation with Moscow and Beijing) for the express pretext of soliciting Chinese ground troops on Mexican soil.

In order to keep United States military forces busy outside of America while Chinese troops are consolidating their presence in Mexico, Moscow and Beijing (in collaboration with non-Communist nations being destroyed by the West’s fake “War on Terror”) will initiate decoy wars (or eruptions of current Western military campaigns abroad) in various hot spots of the globe: the Korean Peninsula; Falklands; Iraq; Afghanistan; Persian Gulf (a sink hole for United States naval vessels); Balkans; etc.

Jan 21, 2013 6:44pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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