In a recent diplomatic trip to Algeria, secretary of State Hilary Clinton lobbied Algerian authorities to support International military intervention in Mali, a nation beset by terrorist violence from Al Qaeda cells. The Algerian Government has taken a course of inaction and prudence over hasty involvement in Mali. Algerian sluggishness in addressing the security issue is preventing International peacekeeping operations from developing. Any International intervention in Mali in the near future would most likely require the cooperation of Algeria, since it’s border would provide the best access to the violence in Northern Mali. Along with the US, France (Mali’s former colonial power) and the Economic Community of West African States have shown willingness to provide military support for an intervention. Algeria has agreed to consider facilitating intervention, and will continue to hold talks with it’s neighbors and the US.

Increased US focus on North Africa comes in the wake of increased Al Qaeda operations in the region. It is now known that Islamist forces conducted a brazen, coordinated attack on the US embassy in Libya. There is evidence that the group responsible is “Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb” – a relatively new wing of Al Qaeda. Anarchy in Mali could provide a haven for Al Qaeda to conduct attacks in an already volatile North Africa.  This is especially true since former Al Qaeda safe havens – Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Yemen – have come under increased intelligence scrutiny and drone attacks with the Obama administration’s new proactive defense doctrine. It is clear that the current administration understands the importance of a secure Mali – potentially the next battleground between Al Qaeda and the US.

– Daniel