THE El-Khabar newspaper in Algeria has reported on the preparations of imperialist countries to launch a military campaign against Islamist militias in Libya.
It states: ‘Algerian President Bouteflika last Friday summoned the members of the Higher National Security Council to an extraordinary meeting on two points: the first was the expected war in Libya which is set to be waged by Western countries who have asked Algeria for logistic facilities and open air corridors and the second was the extent of the cooperation Algeria should provide for a global war against ISIS.
‘A senior Algerian official conveyed to French officials a brief message on behalf of President Bouteflika, which said: “Algeria cannot justify to its people offering military facilities for a military air campaign in Libya.”
‘The commanders of the main branches of the army and the Information and Security Directorate were then invited to attend a meeting with President Bouteflika which will be held on Sunday to make a final decision.
‘Algeria has been informed that the French army and armed forces command have begun preparations for new military operations in Libya with the participation of US forces.
‘A senior security source said that military operations planned the destruction of more than 800 targets in Libya including the camps of jihadist militia battalions and their training centres, arms depots and supply lines.
‘The source added that air strikes would aim at forcing out the jihadist groups from the biggest Libya towns and drive them away from vital installations; airports, ports and oil fields.
‘More than 100 planes will participate in the military operations in Libya in addition to unmanned aircraft, two commando battalions and helicopters as well as frigates and missiles.
‘Preparations for a military intervention in Libya are being made in Paris and Washington.’
Meanwhile, the presence of Army General Pierre de Villiers, chief of staff of the French armed forces in Algeria, continues to fuel speculation around whether or not Algieria will participate in a possible French military intervention in Libya.
While he has been in Algeria, France’s most senior military officer has asked to visit the special troops school at Biskra, in the 4th Military Region.
The importance attached by Paris to the Algerian armed forces, and more particularly the paratrooper commando units of Biskra, whom it considers distinguished themselves in the assault on the armed groups that attacked the Tiguentourine gas site in the wilaya (province) of Illizi, is very high.
These elite troops are rumoured to have participated in operations located in Libyan territory in cooperation with the French and Americans.
In a joint statement, the chiefs of staff of the two countries said they ‘will address questions of mutual interest and exchange analyses and viewpoints on current problems of interest to the two countries’.
If the decision on whether or not to intervene depends entirely on politicians, the fact remains that official statements must be treated with caution, bearing in mind the Malian precedent and Algerian intransigence regarding a foreign intervention on its borders.
At that time we heard the same talk as today and ultimately Algerian skies were opened up to French fighter planes to carry out strikes in northern Mali.
The news was kept quiet by the Algerian side and people only found out thanks to the French press.
The French defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, let the cat out of the bag in an interview granted to French newspaper Le Figaro, in which he called for the ‘mobilisation of Brussels and bringing the matter before the UN General Assembly’.
He talked about the ‘jihadist’ threat, calling for a ‘large-scale military operation’ to liberate Libya while highlighting the danger to ‘the democratic political process’ created by ‘the deterioration of the security situation’.
Speaking more particularly of the Libyan south, he compared it to a terminal where terrorist groups come to stock up on supplies, ‘including weapons.’
If France manages to put the Libyan issue on the agenda of the UN Security Council, Algiers will logically have to yield to the UN resolution if the military intervention under its aegis is approved.
Only when an agreement is made will the Algerian people find out to what degree the government is willing to cooperate with the French government.
Elsewhere, Egyptian Foreign Minister Samih Shukri arrived in Madrid late on Monday to take part in the ministerial conference on stability and development in Libya that will run for two days.
Foreign ministers from Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Mauritania, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Malta, Greece and Cyprus, as well as representatives from the UN, Arab League, the EU and Union for the Mediterranean will attend the conference.
Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman ambassador Badr Abd-al-Ati said Shukri will be keen on affirming the Egyptian stance regarding Libya and will address the conference on the Egyptian initiative adopted during the recent ministerial conference of Libya neighbours held in Cairo late in August.
The Egyptian initiative reiterated respect for Libya’s unity and sovereignty, calling for ‘holding political dialogue among various parties to reach national reconciliation’ and ‘supported the state’s legitimate institutions’.
Shukri held meetings before his visit to Madrid with a number of top Spanish officials, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Magallo.
The talks covered bilateral relations and Egypt’s efforts to introduce economic reforms.
Egypt’s Defence Minister Sidqi Subhi met on Monday with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on Monday. The meeting touched on developments in the Middle East and across the world as well as ways to promote military cooperation.
The French minister expressed appreciation for Egypt’s government and people. He voiced hope that Cairo will restore its leading role at the regional and international levels. The Egyptian army’s Chief of Staff Mahmud Higazi and army officials were present at the meeting.
• French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday that talks with Egyptian Defence Minister Sidqi Subhi were constructive. Le Drian said his talks with Subhi tackled ways to boost bilateral military cooperation especially in the field of armament.
He paid tribute to ties binding his country and Egypt especially in the military field. He said both countries are keen on boosting security cooperation in combating ‘terrorism’ in the Middle East.
• A British defence minister arrived in Cairo from Turkey on Tuesday. He is expected to hold meetings with top Egyptian officials to discuss issues including the ongoing crisis in Libya.