Fruit of Arab Spring

Mon, Jan 21, 2013, 00:00

Just as the disintegration of Yugoslavia liberated not only democrats but demons, plunging it into fratricidal civil war, the fruits of the Arab Spring have been as bitter as they are sweet, not least in north Africa, from Yemen to Sudan and Somalia, Libya, Mali, the southern deserts of Algeria, and Nigeria.

Militant Islamists freed from jail or from under the dead hands of repressive regimes became indispensable allies to those overthrowing tyrants, and emboldened to go after broader jihadist agendas.

Borders became more porous and in entire regions central authority simply disappeared. Radicals in countries like Mali suddenly had access to fresh supplies of weapons from Libya’s rebels.

And as the US begins to boast of its success in crippling al-Qaeda’s central command in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in north Africa hybrids, linked more ideologically than organisationally to the brand, have flourished.

Among them smugglers like Mali-based Algerian jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, expelled last year from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb for his indiscipline and ancillary activities, and his Signed in Blood group which took over the Algerian gas complex last Wednesday. Their purpose: to hit western interests in protest over France’s role in Mali, to strike at Algeria’s government as part of a long war in the country’s south, and, no doubt, to burnish Belmokhtar’s credentials among former allies. And in the warped logic of terrorism, even the siege’s bloody defeat will go down as a success on all fronts.

Its costly end, which left 23 hostages and dozens of militants dead, has raised questions about Algeria’s aggressive handling of the crisis. It owes the 12 countries whose citizens were held a detailed account of the events and its actions. Yet perhaps what was remarkable was that 107 foreign and 685 Algerian hostages survived, and that they also prevented the potentially catastrophic detonation of the plant.

Sign In

Forgot Password?

Sign Up

The name that will appear beside your comments.

Have an account? Sign In

Forgot Password?

Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In or Sign Up

Thank you

You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.

Hello, .

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

Thank you for registering. Please check your email to verify your account.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.