Despite denials and reassurance from Algeria and the Polisario Front, foreign intelligence services continue to point to rising instability and terrorism risks in Tindouf.
Rabat – The Canadian government has joined Spain in advising its citizens against travelling to the Polisario-run Tindouf camps in Algeria as well as the entire Sahel region, citing kidnappings and terrorism in the region.
The statement, initially issued in September, has recently been updated so that it is “valid” for December. It paints a deeply worrying picture of security in the Sahel.
While Canada’s statement validates similar warnings from Spain, the Canadian government’s statement goes further by listing Algeria itself (and not just the Polisario-run camps) as a destination to avoid this month.
The statement does not go into specifics about its listing Algeria as a place to avoid. It suggests, however, that the ongoing anti-establishment popular movements in the North African country are likely to cause more instability in post-Bouteflika Algeria.
With masses of Algerians marching every Friday since February to vent their frustration at the political survival of some faces from the Bouteflika decades and express their opposition to the upcoming elections, there is a wide belief that there is no end in sight for the country’s instability.
“Exercise a high degree of caution due to the risk of civil unrest and the threat of terrorism,” reads the statement, suggesting that the arm-wrestling between protesting Algerians and the political elite might deescalate as neither camp appears willing to relent on its position.
The warning also points to the growing instability in the Sahel region, where terrorist groups, including ISIS and Al Qaeda have established a stronghold to bounce back from their recent strategic losses in the Middle East.
With the groups’ rise in prominence in the Sahel region, Canada warns its citizens against going to “areas bordering Libya, Tunisia, Mali, Niger, and Mauritania.”
In Algeria, the North American country emphatically urged citizens to “avoid travel” to a number of provinces, including Tindouf. “There are armed groups operating in these areas. There is also threat of terrorism, banditry, and kidnapping,” said the statement.
The news comes a week after an alarmed Spain called on its citizens to avoid Tindouf. Like Canada, Spain also cited terrorism and kidnapping threats usually targeting foreign—mostly Western—nationals.
There have also been reports of Algeria addressing a warning letter to the MINURSO, the UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, about kidnappings and other security risks in the Tindouf camps. Algiers has since denied the reports, claiming it has “full control” over Tindouf.