The situation in MalgeriaTM continues to remain uncertain but the following updates should provide some color as to where they stand currently (and a primer on the initial French intervention). Critically, Stratfor warns that the escalation in Algeria will possibly lead to further militants crossing the Mali border, further endangering Westerners and energy infrastructure (which is important as Algeria is one of the largest exports of light, sweet crude oil in the world and a significant natural gas exporter to Europe).
Stratfor 3-minute Primer:
1) In general there is chaos as FranceTV put it "it is very confusing, with no official confirmation of any of the actions being reported on"
2) Up to 35 (of the 44) Hostages have apparently been killed in the Algerian rescue (retake) operation, with hostages freed (one Irishman);
2a) All 8 of the hostage-takers have apparently been killed
Who is Mokhtar Belmokhtar?
3) A US Drone is now on site to take a look for the first time;
4) The UK's Cameron was not informed before the Algerian operation (and wanted to be consulted);
5) Stratfor's concern is that Algeria's action will bring more militants across the border and threaten more Westerners and energy production
There are hundreds of smaller oil and gas fields in between, to the west of In Amenas and around the central desert region surrounding In Salah. Algeria lacks the capacity to provide a robust security presence for all of these sites, nor can it afford to suspend operations given the aggressive oil and gas production expansions planned for 2013. Algeria cannot maintain a permanent security presence at every production site across its territory, but as evidenced by the Jan.16 attack, they are capable of quickly organizing regional security forces at sites of unrest.
6) BP is pulling all non-essential staff out