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, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 82.

    Again the same OLD story muslims terrorist ! why you making people stupid they dont have basic food,water what the hell they go to do with this. why they did't went to Syria?? cz nothing to steal from there Mali- algeria they got GAS, Oil, gold and diamonds... how many times you will make us fool... country is in triple dip recession, having cut here and there and we starting a new fight..

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  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 80.

    Oh dear here we go again getting stuck in to a land of countless tribal loyalties and pulling a nest of Tuareg wasps on to our heads. We see international conspiracies everywhere and once again a PM being led by the nose by his security advisers.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 79.

    As a regular visitor to Algeria it's painful to see the lack of infrastructure and the yawing gap between the haves and have nots. For a country so rich in oil and gas it is criminal that these profits are not shared with the general population. I'm guessing that none of this was on the agenda

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 78.

    wonder how many young lives will be wasted again here for no apparent reason & no gain, secure your borders end of story, stop letting everybody from anywhere to enter your once decent island

 

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