As Libyan rebels continue to hunt for Moammar Gadhafi near his hometown of Sirte, the one-time Libyan strongman's wife and three of his children have entered Algeria, the official Algerian Press Agency reported Monday, citing an Algerian foreign ministry press release.
Gadhafi's second wife "Safia, daughter Aisha, sons Hannibal and Mohamed, accompanied by their children entered Algeria at 08h45 AM [Monday] via the Algerian-Libyan border," the news agency reported. The "UN secretary general, UN Security Council and Mahmoud Jibril, head of Executive Council of Libyan National Transition Council were informed, the release added."
The Algerian Embassy did not immediately respond to a query from The Envoy about the report.
An American analyst on North Africa issues who blogs pseudonymously under the handle "the Moor Next Door" told The Envoy in a telephone interview Monday that it's not so surprising Gadhafi relatives would seek refuge in Algeria. Two of Gadhafi's sons already live there, the analyst noted; one son is married to an Algerian, while the other lives in Algiers.
Furthermore, he said, Algeria has maintained a more studiously neutral posture toward Gadhafi's regime than other regional powers have. Many Arab nations have long been hostile to Gadhafi and the Arab League voted to approve the NATO-led no-fly zone against Gadhafi; Algeria, meanwhile, has pursued the African model of nonalignment in the Libya crisis. The African Union has not approved of the international intervention in Libya and has still not recognized the Libyan opposition National Transition Council, as the United States, Europe and most Arab nations have.
"To sort of understand where Algeria is coming from, the Algerians have repeatedly claimed that they were in contact with both sides of the conflict," the analyst said.
Meanwhile, Gadhafi's own whereabouts remain a mystery. Reports over the weekend suggested rebels were getting some NATO help in their bid to take his hometown of Sirte, Libya.
Separately, the State Department announced Monday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will go to Paris for a meeting later this week of the international Contact Group on Libya--the coalition of powers involved in the Libyan intervention.