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Cablegate: Algeria Reacts to Crises to Its South, Recalling

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAS #0177 0551712
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 241712Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY ALGIERS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8496
INFO RUEHBP/AMEMBASSY BAMAKO PRIORITY 1079
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 9258
RUEHNM/AMEMBASSY NIAMEY PRIORITY 0001
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT PRIORITY 6830
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 3172
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 0512
RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ALGIERS 000177

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/MAG - NARDI; AF/W

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PTER ML MR NG AG
SUBJECT: ALGERIA REACTS TO CRISES TO ITS SOUTH, RECALLING
ITS AMBASSADOR TO MALI OVER AQIM PRISONER RELEASE,
CONDEMNING NIGER COUP

REF: BAMAKO 102

Prisoner Release Condemned
---------------------------

1. (U) Algeria recalled its Ambassador to Mali on February 23
in protest over Mali's freeing of four alleged terrorists,
whose release is seen as part of a deal to obtain the freedom
of a French hostage held in Mali by individuals from
al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The same day, the
GOA called in the Malian Ambassador to demand an explanation.
An Algerian MFA statement of February 23 announcing the
recall "condemned and denounced" the release as indicating an
"unfriendly attitude" and violating a bilateral judicial
cooperation agreement. On the basis of that agreement, the
GOA had requested last September (and reiterated in February,
after the hostages were taken) the extradition of two of the
terrorists who are Algerian nationals and wanted for
terrorist acts. The MFA statement asserted that the prisoner
release violated UN Security Council resolutions as well as
bilateral and regional commitments in the fight against
terrorism. The statement declared that this act will
endanger security and stability in the Trans-Sahara region
and serves the interests of terrorist groups acting under the
banner of al-Qa'ida.

Comment
-------

2. (SBU) Release of the hostages is widely reported here as
having been carried out under French pressure, and as part of
a deal to release French hostage Pierre Camatte. Other press
reports claim that some five million euros have been
transferred to persons in the Sahel, with the help of a son
of Libyan leader Qadhafi, to buy the freedom of the three
Spanish hostages. These developments violate principles that
Algeria strongly supports, i.e., no concessions such as
prisoner releases or ransom payments to terrorist kidnappers.
Embassy anticipates that this release will further delay the
holding of the summit in Bamako of regional leaders and
reinforce Algerian perception of Mali as the weak link in the
region against terrorism. End Comment.

Algeria Also Concerned Over Niger Coup
--------------------------------------

3. (U) Algeria is also following the coup in Niger with
concern, and reacted the day after it occurred. A 19
February MFA communique "firmly condemned" the coup and
appealed for a return to the constitutional order and a
peaceful, political solution to the crisis in the context of
African commitments to democracy. The statement called on
all parties in Niger to pursue a national dialogue to solve
the crisis.
PEARCE

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