by Azzedine, Hafid
ALGIERS, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- Algeria has been warning of the chaos that would be provoked in the region of the African Sahel, including on its southern borders, in case a military intervention was conducted in northern Mali.
Yet, Algiers seems heading towards accepting such a military option after the international community has endorsed the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) proposal to deploy a military force to restore peace and order in northern Mali, which has fallen under the control of Tuareg separatist rebels and extremist groups linked to al-Qaida, following the March 22 military coup in Bamako.
"In case a military action is started in northern Mali, Algeria would be suffering from safeguarding its 1,400 km-long borderline, with the risk of the infiltration of al-Qaida militants and arms, in addition to the rush of Malian refugees who would flee clashes in the north of their country," Atef Kedadra, an expert on the Malian issue, told Xinhua.
On Tuesday, the African Union (AU) approved the ECOWAS' proposal to deploy 3,300-strong force to join Mali's 5,000 troops in the north. The approval is necessary for the final endorsement by the United Nations, which had adopted a resolution on Oct. 12, tasking ECOWAS to draw up a plan for military intervention to re- achieve peace in northern Mali.
"Algeria is still opposing a military intervention on its southern borders. But I believe that it has no choice but to settle in and work in harmony with the international community ... " Kedadra said.
As for the role that Algeria would play in this imminent military action, Kedadra specified that the North African nation " will safeguard its borders, which has already started, and I believe that it would have a central role in terms of taking care of the fleeing refugees."
Algeria is understood to endorse an intervention in Mali only if it is led by an African force, rather than a Western military force, and requires that the military intervention should bear the validation of the United Nations, the expert said.
But some others, like Ahmed Adhimi, are more firmly against an military option. For his part, the military expert and professor at the faculty of political sciences in the University of Algiers said via the local Echorouk newspaper that "a military intervention in northern Mali is useless," adding that "war has never brought peace, so far, either in Somalia, Iraq or Afghanistan."
"The West pushes into a military intervention in the north of Mali, in order to create a hotspot there and ultimately control the energy resources there," Adhimi said.
Meanwhile, Bachir Medjahed, a security expert and a member of the Algiers-based African Center for Counterterrorism (CRSS), told Xinhua that "Algeria will not send troops to Mali, given that Algeria's military doctrine to avoid interfering in other countries' internal conflicts."
Yet, closing the 1,400 km borderline with Mali "is not only a right, but also a duty for Algeria, to ultimately protect the country from the risk of the infiltration of militants and arms," he said.
The expert added that the North African nation believes that a political settlement of the crisis in Mali is still possible, as it is calling on for initiating a peace dialogue between the government of Bamako and the Tuareg separatist rebels.