Algeria closes most of its land borders

In a move to address growing terrorist threats, Algeria has militarized border regions and closed many border crossings.

al-monitor Residents walk on sand dunes in the Libyan desert oasis town of Ghadames, a small town that lies on Libya's western border with Algeria, April 19, 2013. Photo by REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny.

Topics covered

terrorism, border crossing, border, algerian army, abdelaziz bouteflika

May 22, 2014

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika transferred the file of Algeria’s land border with six neighboring countries from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of National Defense, after the closure of border crossings with Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya and Algeria. As per the new [presidential] decisions, Algeria is heading toward militarizing all its land borders stretching over 6,385 kilometers (3,967 miles), except for the border with Tunisia. Algeria’s land border is now under the custody of military men after having been under the control of civilians.

The border shared between Algeria and six neighboring countries — including Morocco, the Sahrawi Republic, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Libya — has been turned into military zones that cannot be accessed without permission from military authorities.

According to the recent presidential decision, border crossings between Algeria and Libya will be closed and affairs of the border will become a military security matter. Thus, the only open border for Algerians is with Tunisia. According to an Algerian security source, security is the state’s top priority, therefore it decided to close borders with neighboring countries. Consequently, the border with Libya was closed at the three land crossings. Algerian families in Libya were warned to leave the country, while Libyan families in Algeria were also warned that they should leave Algeria.

Within the context of the president’s decision to close border crossings, the border regions between Algeria, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Libya have turned into military zones, where access is denied without a security permit from the Ministry of Defense.

According to an informed source, the army leadership has spread military units in the regions near the border crossings to prevent infiltration, especially from Libya. The army has set up 20 monitoring sites and tightened control on the southern border.

The new control points, according to a senior security source, will prevent any infiltration across desert pathways used by smugglers. They also allow a good view of the desert thanks to their high positioning. Moreover, the army units working in the far south have informed Bedouins in the area that any movement requires security clearance from the local commander of the army, the border guards or police, and that those who violate these instructions will be held accountable.

According to a reporter within the national gendarmerie, unauthorized infiltrators will first be warned. Should they not respond to the warning they will be fired upon. The general staff and the leadership of the border guards set up a new security plan. Cars and people are only allowed to pass through eight border ports that link Algeria with Mali, Mauritania and Niger. The army leadership will also fire upon vehicles moving within unauthorized sites during the night.

According to an informed source, the army banned access to the desert corridors in the southeastern border region without a prior security permit. These measures will further tighten the noose around the neck of terrorist groups in desert pathways. According to our source, these strict instructions will eliminate terrorism in the Algerian Sahara.

Ground and air forces are scheduled to go on permanent patrols to monitor the most important ports and routes as part of the latest decisions. The ground forces and the gendarmerie units in the south are using modern, recently acquired equipment, which will allow for good vision at night and detect camouflage vehicles and people hiding in the desert.

Continue reading this article by registering at no cost and get unlimited access to:
  • Al-Monitor Archives
  • The Week in Review
  • Exclusive Events
  • Invitation-only Briefings

More from  Mohammad Ben Ahmad

Recommended Articles

Iraq-Saudi border crossing reopens after 30 years
Al-Monitor Staff | Economy and trade | Nov 18, 2020
Ethiopian armed conflict may affect Nile Dam dispute
George Mikhail | Water Issues | Nov 19, 2020
Will Sudan hand over Islamists to Egypt?
Azza Guergues | Terrorism | Nov 14, 2020
'How Does a Detonator Work?' Portland man indicted for publishing Islamic State newsletter
Al-Monitor Staff | Islamic State | Nov 6, 2020
Egypt to dismiss public servants with alleged ties to Muslim Brotherhood
A correspondent in Egypt | Courts and the law | Nov 16, 2020