No wonder the Algerians stubbornly refused to help the French in their Mali adventure. No amount of French government pressure last year could persuade President Abdulaziz Bouteflika – which means the Algerian army – to march into the deserts of its southern neighbour and engage in battle once more with its al-Qa’ida opponents and their allies. But Algeria’s enemies – and, of course, France’s enemies – came to Algeria yesterday, turning the Algerian desert into another battleground. Foreigners, two of them reported dead, 41 held hostage on the In Amenas gas field, Algerian troops surrounding both the prisoners and their captors; it sounds like a replay of Algeria’s own 1990s civil war. And if precedent is anything to go by, don’t bet on a happy ending.