News / Europe

Anger, Fear Sweep Europe After Algeria Attack

Anger, Fear Sweep Europe After Algeria Attacki
January 19, 2013 1:28 AM
As the hostage crisis at a remote natural gas complex in Algeria continues to play out, there is anger in European capitals and beyond over the way Algerian authorities have dealt with the situation. The attack also has sparked fears for the vulnerability of foreign-owned assets across the region - and the implications for European security. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Anger, Fear Sweep Europe After Algeria Attack
Henry Ridgwell
As the hostage crisis at a remote natural gas complex in Algeria continues to play out, there is anger in European capitals and beyond over the way Algerian authorities have dealt with the situation. The attack also has sparked fears for the vulnerability of foreign-owned assets across the region - and the implications for European security.

British Prime Minister David Cameron postponed a key speech on Europe to deal with the hostage crisis Friday. After chairing an emergency meeting with ministers, he briefed parliament.

"I offered UK technical and intelligence support - including from experts in hostage negotiation and rescue - to help find a successful resolution. And I urged that we and other countries affected should be consulted before any action was taken," said Cameron.

Dismay at Algeria's handling

Observers say that the diplomatic language masks the anger in European capitals and beyond over the way Algeria has handled the hostage crisis.

Graham Hand is a former British ambassador to Algeria.

“I think they’ve let us down. But this is not untypical Algerian behavior. It is to do with the fact that Algerians are proud, independent people, they would want to sort this out in their own way,” he said.

Hand said the attack marks a new departure for Islamist terrorists in Algeria.

“They really have not hit the oil and gas installations, of which there are many. And I think the fear must be that if this is the start of a new trend, then Algeria is going to have a huge problem,” said Hand.

Huge issue for foreign firms

It also will be a problem for the foreign companies that invest millions of dollars in resource-extraction across the Sahel, said international security consultant David Rubens.

“On a global scale, the loss of facilities is one thing, but losing 20 percent of your share price is a completely different situation. And I think that for a lot of people in the major boardrooms not far from here in central London, there are some serious discussions going on about the long-term implications. This is not a problem that’s going to go away in three weeks or three months,” said Rubens.

British oil giant BP, the co-operator of the natural gas complex, has begun pulling out non-essential workers from Algeria.

High-stakes situation remains

And as armored vehicles continue to roll off military transport planes at Bamako airport, Rubens said the French intervention in Mali - which the attackers say prompted their action - has raised the stakes across the region.

“I think the likelihood of an attack of this nature being made on a facility of this nature had to be considered a possibility,” said Rubens.
Hand said this is a critical moment for the region and for Europe.

“Libya hasn’t settled. There are still some question marks over Tunisia. Now we have Mali and we have trouble in Algeria. And I think we must not turn our backs on that region because it is only a very short distance from Europe,” said Hand.

Analysts say concerns that Islamic militancy is gaining a foothold just across the Mediterranean likely will build support for France’s intervention in Mali.

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Comment Sorting
by: Graham
January 20, 2013 7:25 AM
Peoples lives are at risk and as much as the Algerians want to do it their way, professionalism is key here if lives are to be saved. Proud and independent people does not come into the equation when lives are in the balance.

by: Ron Wagner from: Decatur, IL
January 19, 2013 1:13 PM
All energy workers should have weapons and safety training. In that location they should have all been armed and had a security check.
Former military should be used for security.

Immediate action is best. Paying blackmail is what perpetuates terrorism. It finances more of the same.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
January 19, 2013 12:18 PM
A very terrible reality; great loss of innocent lives at the hands of hardened criminal terrorists. The people of Mali have been enduring these criminals for many years. The horrific pictures that we see, of people having had limbs amputated, en vivo, because they did not want to join the terrorists is barbarity at its maximum. What should be even more concerning, is that there are protesters, in suport of these henious criminals, in some ME countries. In the EU countries, and in NA, many of their so called "analysts/experts" have been ignoring/glossing over/sweeping under the carpet/ or are just incompetents, on what is occurring in Africa. US gvmt warnings fell on deaf ears; Israeli warnings were ridiculed, and now the reality is home. France, the only EU country that took the issue seriously, was also ignored by its "EU partners". In my view the EU partnership may be morally decrepit, or full of pretend anti-terrorist orgs, because it initially absolutely failed to support France. It still provides France with meagre support. The issue of terrorism affects all nations negatively, and even the poorest people, as we see in the horrific outcome for those courageous Malian citizens that stood up to the terrorists, are affected by mutilations/killings. It is time for the EU and other Western block countries to see the reality and truly join in the fight to stop this terrorism; and not just pay lip service, with a stiff upper lip. This terrorism has very bad consequences on native ancestral populations, and over time it will just spread into Europe; and not just as a rare occurence, but an occurrence with a regular frequency. It is interesting to hear, from media reports/interviews of hostages, that at least one terrorist was fully fluent in English; essentially in a group of 30 terrorist, one is a fluent English speaker; which is no longer an unusual occurence either. This fact should also send alarm bells ringing, into the capitals of the Western block. One country, like the US or France can't be expected to unfairly carry all the load on these operations. There are similarities wrt end Roman empire times, and some large EU members = military will decadence!

by: Craig D from: USA
January 19, 2013 3:45 AM
Muslims in Nigeria are forcing Christians to convert. But, since Islam is showing itself to be incompatible with modern socially tolerant society, maybe Islam should be declared an illegal sect or religion. In the US, when a religion or sect, like the Branch Davidians, proved itself to be a danger to society, it was declared illegal and put down like mad dogs. Is that what the eventual fate of Islam must be? Maybe...

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