With the sacking of Malian Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra earlier this week, the latest crisis in this West African nation threatens to endanger plans for an African-led military mission to re-conquer northern Mali and rid the region of al Qaeda-linked jihadist groups.

Algeria, the wealthiest country with the strongest security services in the region, is a natural leader on regional security. Like Mali, Algeria also has a Tuareg population - a traditionally nomadic people spread across national borders in the Sahel, the remote transitional belt between the Sahara and sub-Saharan Africa. It was the latest Tuareg rebellion that led to the 2011 breakup of northern Mali.