by Kaci Racelma
American Reporter Correspondent
February 25, 2005
ALGERIANS READY SUMMIT THAT COULD REOPEN BORDERS
ALGIERS -- Extensive security precautions will be taken in Algiers to protect public buildings against terrorist attacks at the opening of the two-day Arab Summit on March 22 here, a high level security source told The American Reporter.
The summit could bring about a thaw in Algerian-Moroccan relations and lead to the reopening of their common border, which has been closed for more than a decade, the nation's foreign minister indicated.
Algerian security forces have been on a high state of alert for several days. The success of the event constitutes a great challenge for Algerian authorities, who are eager to achieve the desired results, the source said.
Algiers, the center of the government of Algeria, is densely populated, but its crowded streets will be closely monitored in the coming weeks.
A comprehensive security plan, which is not new, has already produced positive results during the meeting of Arab labor ministers and an association of French employers.
In Algeria, where many people are still angered by the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister and billionaire Rafik Hariri, the activities of the terrorist group known as the GSPC (Groupes Salafistes pour la Prédication et le Combat, or the Salafist Group for the Preaching of War) are believed to be planning attacks, which could easily explain the total mobilization of the Algerian security forces.
What makes this a particularly important event is undoubtedly the participation of the Moroccan monarch in the summit.
This participation of King Mohammed VI is seen by both sides, Algeria and Morocco ,as a "good start towards increasing the number of meetings between the King and Moroccan President Abdelaziz Bouteflika."
Algerian foreign affairs minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem, who took part in the meeting of the Arab Maghreb Union foreign ministers in Rabat recently, said in a statement to Moroccan National Radio that "Morocco and Algeria are working for the reinforcement of mutual relations."
These new developments in the relationship between the two neighboring countries could also contribute to the reopening of their common borders, which have been closed since 1994.
AR Correspondent Kaci Racelma is a reporter for Algeria's leading daily newspaper, La Nouvelle Republique.