A visibly tired David Cameron has just completed his statement to the House of Commons on the hostage situation in Algeria. What was striking about it was the starkness of the language that the Prime Minister used. He talked about Al Qaeda in the Maghreb and other North African terrorists groups posing a ‘large and existential threat’, warned that they ‘thrive in ungoverned spaces’ and that ‘parts of Mali have become a safe haven for Al Qaeda’ and declared that if it is not confronted ‘the threat there will grow and we’ll face it as well’.
Now, to be sure Cameron made clear that he wasn’t thinking about combat troops for Mali and that instead Britain would limit itself to logistical support for the French and West African operation there. But Cameron clearly still accepts the interventionist logic. Indeed, he appears to do so more firmly with every day that he is in office.
The Algerians, though, are clearly difficult allies. All four calls between Cameron and the Algerian Prime Minister have been initiated by Downing Street and the Algerians are still refusing offers of assistance.