In a surprise move Algeria yesterday issued a statement recognizing Libya's National Transitional Council as the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people.
A statement issued by the Algerian foreign minister on Sept. 22 stated that “Algeria recognizes Libyan’s interim rulers as the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people,” (Reuters). Another statement said it was ready to work closely with the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC). Libya’s neighbor was one of the last to hold out in the area, having enjoyed a close relationship with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, cooperating closely in regard to the terrorist threat posed in the region by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Algeria’s move is a surprise as the country had previously said it would recognize the NTC only when it formed a “government representative of all regions,” according to Al Arabiya. However NTC interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril announced on Sunday that the formation of a new cabinet had been postponed indefinitely, before changing his mind earlier this week and promising a new government would be announced within 10 days.
The NTC was provoked when Algeria gave humanitarian leave for some of Gaddafi’s family members to stay in the country. Currently Gaddafi’s wife, daughter Aisha, and sons Hannibal and Mohammed, are all ensconced within Algeria. The NTC demanded that Algeria repatriate the Gaddafi family, saying “We are warning anybody not to shelter Gaddafi and his sons. We are going after them in any place to find them and arrest them,” the Telegraph reported. The NTC described Algeria’s decision to allow the Gaddafi family to stay as “An act of aggression against the Libyan people and against the wishes of the Libyan people.”Algeria is one of several countries in the region that has expressed concern that members of AQIM have been pillaging weapons from Libya to use in terrorist attacks. The recent suicide bombing outside the Cherchell military academy, which claimed 36 dead, was the work of AQIM and Algeria has concerns that extremist Libyan rebels who were previously active in Iraq could work with the terrorist group. However by recognizing the NTC, tensions between the countries may ease.