Human rights the best weapon against militants
The mass slaughter with which the Algerian hostage crisis ended was a reminder of the ruthlessness of Islamist miltancy, and a reminder of the increasing power of al-Qa'ida and its allies.
Anyone who thought the "war of civilisations" had finished with the death of Osama bin Laden had to think again when the Taliban destabilised not only Afghanistan but Pakistan. It was time for even deeper thinking when France felt obliged to intervene in Mali.
Recent events culminating in the deaths of scores of terrorists and hostages, were closely related to conditions in Mali. The attack was almost certainly planned months earlier, but it was the fragile Mali situation that made it possible.
On the vast desert borders of Algeria and Mali, militants can hide and plan for attacks. Defence is very difficult. The military-dominated Algerian regime has been criticised for a hasty, heavy response. But nobody can say with certainty that different tactics would have saved any lives.
The French and British have responded with strong support for Algeria. But the "war" will not be won by armies. The West must resume the search for stability and human rights in North Africa and the Middle East.