World Bulletin / News Desk
Algeria has identified drug trafficking as a top national security threat linked to militancy in the region and put its powerful army in charge of fighting it, interior minister Daho Ould Kablia said.
"We are waging a war. It is a war against a new form of terrorism: drugs trafficking," Ould Kablia told the APS state news agency late on Wednesday.
A top energy supplier to Europe and an important player in the fight against the spread of militancy in the Sahara, Algeria is concerned about the link between extremism and rising drugs trafficking particularly in the Sahel region of North Africa.
Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on an Algerian gas plant in January, used to provide security to drug traffickers in Algeria in return for money, a security source knowledgeable about militancy in Algeria's Sahara said.
Putting the army in charge sends a strong signal that Algeria is taking the problem seriously, observers said. Fighting drug trafficking was formerly the job of the National Gendarmerie, Customs, and Border Patrol.
"Smuggling provides armed groups and AQIM (al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) in the Sahara the financial means to buy weapons, and hire new militants," security expert and editor of Ennahar Anis Rahmani told Reuters.
"Obviously the only force capable to counter the growing smuggling activity that includes drugs trafficking is the Algerian army."
Nearly 78 tonnes of cannabis resin were seized during the first 6 months of 2013 versus 71 tonnes during the same period last year, according to the National Office for the Fight Against Drugs and Addiction.
Most of the cannabis and cannabis resin come from neighboring Morocco, Algerian officials say.
"We consider that drugs trafficking is now Algeria's number one security threat, and terrorism is in the second position," a top security official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliyev says Kiev's action will not affect payment of wages and pensions.
The businessman, an Indian national, resigned his post of managing director of Galfar Engineering and Contracting after his January conviction and sentence
UAE asked all its citizens working with Qatari media outlets to resign from their jobs immediately, while Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Information has issued a decision banning Saudi writers and columnists from writing for Qatari newspapers
Erdogan said Turkey was prepared to help the international contact group given his country's close relationships with Ukraine and Russia
Obama has said a referendum on Crimea would violate international law and the Ukrainian constitution while Putin defends Crimea's decision to hold referendum
"The fact that we are unable to find any debris so far appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet," said the source
Moussa Abu Marzouq moved to Cairo from Damascus after the popular uprising against Bashar al-Assad.
The source said the nuns had been transferred to the Lebanese town of Arsal earlier in the week and were on their way to Syria
The attacker approached a main checkpoint at a northern entrance to the city and detonated the minibus
Libya's prosecutor-general Abdel-Qadir Radwan on Saturday authorized the use of force against the tanker.
The clash occurred when militants approached the compound in Lawdar town with suicide belts, hand grenades and explosive devices
Jarba urged Arab countries to designate Lebanon's Hezbollah group and ISIL as "terrorist organizations"
Acting Defence Minister Ihor Tenyukh said the only troop movements that might be seen would be from one base to another to take part in the training exercises.
Malaysian investigators, assisted by the FBI, are probing the identities of four passengers in particular, two travellers with European passports, possibly Ukrainian, in addition to two travelling on stolen Austrian and Italian passports
The two-day Arab summit meeting will kick off in Kuwait on March 25. Qatar's top diplomat a no-show at Arab FMs meeting afterSaudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Doha
Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, vice president since 2009, had been a top commander in the Northern Alliance, a group of anti-Taliban militia leaders, during the civil war