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Main focus of Monday, January 21, 2013

Bloody end to hostage crisis in Algeria

In the Algerian desert, the search goes on for missing hostages. (© AP/dapd)

The Algerian army on Saturday ended the hostage drama at the In Aménas gas field by storming the plant. At least 80 people have lost their lives there since Wednesday, including several dozen hostages. Commentators warn of the new threat posed by radical Islamists in the region since the toppling of the regime in Libya, and see the force of arms as the only effective instrument against this terror.

La Croix - France

Europe must fight terror

In the last few days several countries have criticised the Algerian leadership for its lacking willingness to negotiate in the hostage crisis of In Aménas.The Catholic daily La Croix stresses that you can't negotiate with terrorists and calls on European countries to do more to fight terror: "There is no 'clean' way to fight terrorists. If we agree to negotiate, are we not inviting terrorists to take new hostages for the next round of horse-trading? Openly agreeing to negotiate with them means agreeing to pay ransoms that will finance new networks and pay for new weapons. ... Refusing all negotiations and counter-attacking immediately, as the Algerian authorities decided to do, means running the risk of hostages being killed by their abductors or in the course of fighting. ... The fight against terrorism - from Iraq to Afghanistan - has shown its limits. That being the case, it can only be lamented that the countries of Europe are showing such reserve faced with an enemy that threatens them all." (20/01/2013)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Libyan coup paved way for hostage crisis

The hostage crisis in Algeria was only superficially connected to the military operations in Mali, the liberal-conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung contends, arguing that the terrorists took advantage of the general commotion in the Arab world and in particular in Libya: "The attack on the plant of In Aménas was too big an operation to have been launched on the basis of a spontaneous decision. The French intervention in Mali may have provided nothing more than an opportune moment for a strike which had long been in planning. The attack had less to do with Mali than with the overthrow of the regime in Libya. It opened up Gaddafi's weapons arsenal, allowing Algerian terrorists to stock up on arms, and also opened up the borders, providing new places of refuge for terrorists in the neighbouring countries." (21/01/2013)

The Guardian - United Kingdom

Cameron's impatience on foreign policy

At least three British citizens were among those killed in the hostage crisis in Algeria. In his statement on Sunday, Prime Minister David Cameron called for a "global response" to the terrorist threat. For the left-liberal daily The Guardian this is a telling example of Cameron's impatience on foreign policy issues: "Cameron's instinct is to roll up his sleeves and have a bash on the grounds that it must be better than doing nothing: pick a fight with Brussels, send in a taskforce, shake things up, kick some tyres. There is undeniably something of the bull in the china shop about it, as Kofi Annan seemed to be hinting when he described the unrest in Mali as collateral damage from that same war in Libya. But then again, the humanitarian catastrophe now unfolding in Syria confirms that while intervening sometimes carries a terrible price, so can doing nothing. As defence and foreign budgets shrink, while public resistance to anything that threatens mass casualties grows, we will need to get far smarter about where and how the west uses what muscle it still has." (20/01/2013)

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