Good morning and welcome to today’s live blog on the Middle East and north Africa.

Here are this morning’s headlines:


The death toll of hostages following the end of the four-day siege of the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria now stands at 57. At least nine Japanese people were today reported to have been killed, while yesterday Algerian troops reportedly found the bodies of 25 more hostages. Nearly 700 Algerian workers and more than 100 foreigners are thought to have escaped. Three Britons have been confirmed dead and three more, along with one British resident, are also thought to have been killed.

Some 32 Islamist militants are reported to have been killed in the raid. Six have been captured and Algerian troops are still searching for others. Islamist militant Mokhtar Belmoktar claimed responsibility on behalf of al-Qaida for the attack on the gas facility on Wednesday – which led to a bloody assault the next day by the Algerian armed forces that lasted until Saturday – in a video, and said about 40 terrorists took part in the attack.

The Algerian prime minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, is expected to give details about the siege at a press conference today. David Cameron, the British prime minister, is to address the Commons on the situation this afternoon.

• Spectacular as the hostage crisis has been, it does not mean we have returned to the dark days of the early 2000s, writes al-Qaida expert Jason Burke.

It is because militant attacks have been so infrequent – or at least distant – that this recent episode has had such an impact. Bin Laden is dead, al-Qaida’s ability to cause harm greatly reduced, and the local dynamics that now characterise the impossibly fragmented world of contemporary extremism make militant groups resilient but render complex 9/11-type attacks almost impossible to organise. Extremism remains a threat, and an evolving one, but the danger is not “existential”.


Syrian opposition leaders meeting in Istanbul have postponed forming a transitional government, the Syrian National Coalition said on Monday, in a setback for efforts to fill a power vacuum in the war-torn country. More on this shortly.

• The British government has been urged to help hundreds of Syrian students in the UK left without money and at risk of deportation amid the crisis in their homeland, which has caused the Syrian embassy in London to grind to a halt and seen sanctions imposed on their country’s banks, writes Peter Walker.


• Binyamin Netanyahu has vowed to rebuff international demands to allow a Palestinian state with a border based on the pre-1967 Green Line and its capital in East Jerusalem, as hardline pro-settler parties and factions are expected to make unprecedented gains in Tuesday’s election, writes Harriet Sherwood.

• As Obama begins his second term there is little sign of the determination to break the deadlock in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when he took office in 2008, which he then characterised as an open sore afflicting the whole Middle East, writes Chris McGreal. Instead, disillusioned former peace negotiators and Middle East policy officials expect his “dysfunctional” and confrontational relationship with Netanyahu to stagger along even if the Israeli prime minister returns to power after Tuesday’s election with a government even further to the right of the present one.

The left in Israel is its own worst enemy, writes Rachel Shabi.

All this and more throughout the day here.

Algeria hostage death toll rises – live updates – The Guardian
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