Some of it I get. Algeria is one of the few regional neighbours who hasn’t recognised Libya’s nascent rebel government. It has clearly been hedging its bets, taking cash and keeping its lines of communications open to the Gaddafis. Maybe it’s worried about an uprising at home, and thinks backing the old regime is a way to guarantee regional stability.
Rumours have been buzzing around for the past week that Gaddafi’s wife and some of his kids had crossed into Algeria. Most experts say there is a good chance that Gaddafi himself is likely to be holed up in the desert in the south-west, somewhere within striking distance of the border.
So the news today that his wife, Safiya, daughter, Aisha and two sons, Mohammed and Hannibal, had arrived in Algeria is no great surprise. But if Algeria was the new haven of the Gaddafis, why on earth did the news come via a statement from its foreign ministry in Algiers? Surely this is not the thing you’d want announced to the world.
This will make it more difficult for the rest of the clan to enter – with Algiers now no doubt coming under massive diplomatic pressure and Nato stepping up surveillance of the border.
But maybe Algiers is playing a longer game. Is it looking for a stake in Libya’s politics? Some sort of trade with the rebels or the west? All very curious.
And the other conclusion I’d draw is that it confirms Colonel Gaddafi’s intentions: He’s staying put, organising and fighting to the end. He’s not about to join his wife and three kids, or leave his country for a haven outside. He’s going to die in Libya.