What is the UK doing in North Africa?

 

Algeria had, until recent days, scarcely featured on the mental maps of most British politicians. No prime minister has visited the country since it became independent in 1962.

On his visit to Algiers on Wednesday, David Cameron will stress the strategic importance of one of the largest countries in the world in what he has called "the generational struggle" against al-Qaeda in North Africa.

The prime minister and his Algerian counterpart will pay their respects to those who died in the hostage crisis in the desert. They will also discuss deeper security co-operation as British and French force numbers are increased in neighbouring Mali.

David Cameron insists he is not contemplating another conflict like that in Libya, let alone another Afghanistan. His aides are stressing that the troops being sent to the region are to be used for training, logistics and intelligence, and not combat. They talk of a temporary operation.

Some will point to the fact that where once the talk was of "tens of" British troops it is now hundreds and note that the defence secretary said in the Commons on Monday that it was not the government's "intention" for British troops to play a combat role.

This trip is bound to heighten the demands on the prime minister to say not simply what he is not planning in North Africa, but to explain more about what exactly he is.

 
Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 42.

    37.WANAITT

    "You obviously missed the UK wanting to "defend", when there was no threat and declaring they were willing to go to war, and deploy weapons in the region."
    ===
    Is that it ? Given the history and the diplomatic posturing from the Argentinian president, this should surprise no one. Hardly an agitation to war, just exaggerated left wing tripe.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 41.

    16. WANAITT "Govt! It did its best to agitate the Argentinians into a war, now looking to create conflict elsewhere for its jingoism!"

    Which planet did you come from? Argentina invaded the Falklands! we defended.

    It is however a good question why are we in North Africa the only answer I can think of is Obama & the USA because they don't want to follow the French anywhere (Vietnam!!)

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 40.

    What is the UK doing in North Africa?

    Getting dragged into another one - but unlike Afghanistan - I think North Africa is too close for it not to be in UK national interest not to help a sovereign nation who needs our help & asks for it.

    If Britain does not play its part - 'others' will step in & supply weapons & position will get worse & worse.

    Cameron is keeping UK involvement small

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 39.

    "What is the UK doing in North Africa?"

    Whatever else, presuming on faith of our military, dubiously claiming flag of democracy, failing to divest us of image of hypocrisy, even in 'good fights' leaving us open for use as recruiting-sergeant for others' 'good fights'

    Demonstrating democratic deficit, corruption of all however talented, away from 'start of wisdom': know & choose equal partnership

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 38.

    WHAT IS THE UK DOING IN NORTH AFRICA?

    Trying to play the worlds policeman, meddling and spending more taxpayers money.

    Blair was advised, not that long after the 11 September attack, that he should not drag Britain into Afghan & Iraq but get aid into Africa, especially the north.

    We all know what he chose to do: make enemies instead of friends.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 37.

    33.
    Strictly Pickled
    "ReallyWhen was this ? "

    You obviously missed the UK wanting to "defend", when there was no threat and declaring they were willing to go to war, and deploy weapons in the region.
    But then most Tories miss these signals don't they just like in the 80s, which enabled them to win an Election on the back of it. That is the only way this Govt will be in Office, and they know it!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 36.

    #35 maybe you shoudl ask the French wh ythey got involved in Libya/Mali BUT not Iraq/Afghanistan ?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 35.

    I can only repeat Nick's question. Echo it even.

    What is the UK doing in North Africa? ... ca ca ca.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 34.

    Perhaps Cameron is a massive fan of Afrobeat and Afroblues... and wants to ensure their survival.

    Perhaps not.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 33.

    16.WANAITT
    "this useless insular Govt! It did its best to agitate the Argentinians into a war,"
    ===
    Really ??? When was this ? And what happened ?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 32.

    #27 mean while russia/china are supporting/proping him up along with the like of Zimbabwe

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 31.

    #29, IR35
    You're right to raise the issue of China's penetration of Africa, and it's significant resources grab.
    The other issue is to remember that the Arab world once extended across the whole of N Africa and halfway up Spain.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 30.

    Whats the UK doing in N Africa?

    Knowing Westminister they are probabaly seeing if we can cram some more dissaffected terrorists into our ever expanding immigrant ghetto's.
    After all what we are good at is importing the worst whilst we wave bye,bye to our best.
    After pakistan/afghan,somalia ConDemLab are in desparate need of more voters so the welcome mat will be out no doubt.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 29.

    #27 and what CHINA is doing is not a problem then ?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 28.

    It's worth noting that a good way give some detail to that mental map is to re-visit Michael Palin's 'Sahara'. His typically insightful, humane and witty observations have an added poignancy when you consider that he appears to have been wandering around this Islamic dominated region at the time an extreme manifestation of that religion was crashing in to the twin towers.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 27.

    Today, Libya is a catastrophe with no real journalists covering. Meanwhile, NATO’s attempts at destroying Assad’s Govt by funding "activists" has led to strengthening Wahabism. No wonder it’s difficult to work out what's going on in N. Africa. Tragedy at Ain Amenas is reminder of how misguided NATO is in attempts to steal resources, create chaos, & keep China out.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 26.

    15. pietr8 Problem is terrorism not Islam

    Question is pietr what is driving motivation? In Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, Algeria objective of the militants is to spread Sharia law & hence strict Islam. One quote from Mali Islamists was 'The people will have to accept Sharia law whether they want it or not'. Shying away from motivation behind terror will not help us stop it spreading.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 25.

    What is the UK doing in North Africa?
    Same thing they were doing in Afghanistan & Lybia - looking to get a piece of the action in order to get a piece of the resources. and of course supporting UK's good friend, the United States of America.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 24.

    If our troops weren't being deployed in non combat roles in various parts of the world, they would be employed doing endless drill and press ups.

    What do the deniers thisnk they ARE paid for, doing nothing.

    Non commen sense prevails in the anti's

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 23.

    Mission creep as predicted last week,or a creep looking for a mission since he`s given up on the economy

    We`ve handed Libya to Al Qeeda,Benghazi is a no go area for the British and Americans so what version of the Arab Spring is he now supporting.There seem to be 57 varieties.Morsi is hedging his bets,,openng a dialogue with Amerdinejad and Hezbollah, in case Assad falls to Jihadists

 

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