Algerian Chief of Staff Visits USEUCOM amid Accusations of Civilian Massacres
While some French circles are campaigning against the military institution accusing it of perpetrating massacres against civilians, the Algerian chief of joint staff General Mohamed Lamari paid a visit to US-European Command (USEUCOM) headquarters in Algiers where he was received by general Fulford, said El Khabar daily on Wednesday.
Sources told the paper that the visit “was highly important,” pointing out that the bilateral military relations are getting better and better.
According to the paper, there are reasons for the improvement of the relations.
“Algeria is playing an important role in solving conflicts in Africa, and the US investments in Algeria amount to 3.7 billion dollars. It ranks Algeria in the second position right after Saudi-Arabia and before Egypt,” said the daily.
Attending the signing of a peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia in Algiers in December last year, former state secretary Madeleine Albright hailed the high level cooperation between her country and Algeria.
“I think that the kind of cooperation that was evident on the issue of Ethiopia and Eritrea is an example of how we can work together and we also are hoping to generally work on improving our relations with President Bouteflika's government and working together as best we can on a variety of problems, not only in Africa, but looking at some of the issues in the Middle East.”
Algeria falls in the area of responsibility (AOR) of the United States European Command, which covers more than 13 million square miles and includes 91 countries and territories.
The visit by the senior officer to UNEUCOM came amidst accusations of massacres committed by the army but attributed to Islamic extremists.
AFP reported on Tuesday that the army denied accusations by a former officer in its special forces that the army carried out massacres of civilians, dismissing the claims as part of a campaign to undermine the army.
Lamari said that the reports -- recently published in France in a book entitled "The Dirty War" by Habib Souaidia -- were an attempt to split ranks in the army.
General Lamari, in an order to the troops issued Monday, slammed the "mad media campaign from abroad" which he said presented "as truth, claims tying actions of the army and security services with criminal acts comparable to those of terrorists."
In his book, Souaidia, a former officer in Algeria's special forces charged with fighting Islamic extremists, supports suspicions voiced by human rights organizations that the Algerian military was behind large-scale civilian massacres between 1995 and 1998.
The book has been the center of media attention in both France and Algeria, said the agency, adding that while Algiers' press says that the Socialist International is behind a campaign to tarnish the country's image, French critics have called for an international inquiry mission to be sent to Algeria – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)