The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Egypt and Algeria at odds

It appears the Algerians aren't too happy about what they see as Mubarak's latest political stunt, the Egyptian leader's call for an Arab Summit in Sharm al Sheikh to show solidarity against terrorism. The Khaleej Times reports:

A high-level Algerian source said his country was not keen on attending the summit, adding that Algeria was upset on the way the summit was hurriedly organised. He pointed out that the summit was for ‘local consumption’ and seeks to serve the Egyptian agenda as the presidential election in that country gets closer. The source, who requested anonymity, said Algeria would not accept to be summoned to an Arab summit just to serve the local election campaign of an Arab country.

At a time when Mubarak's greatest achievement, seven years of terror free stability, is under fire, the Sharm al Sheikh summit is sure to generate lots of media attention, focusing on Mubarak as a bold leader leading the region against terrorism. And hosting the summit in Sharm al Sheikh, in addition to sending the message that Sharm is bouncing back, will provide a much needed boost to the resort's economy, which will also benefit Mubarak politically. So no doubt there is political capital to be gained domestically here. Sort of like Bush's landing on the aircraft carrier, or his speech before both houses of congress after 9/11.

Then again, Arab leaders have been coming under fire, rightly so in many cases, for not taking a strong enough stand against Islamic extremism. It seems that anti-terror summits such as those planned for Sharm shouldn't be discouraged, especially by Algeria, which has its own distinguished history of Islamic militancy. And if this is true, are we to understand that Bouteflika is against the reelection of Mubarak?