Desert brethren

Dec 19, 2012, 3:20 PM EST
French President Francois Hollande, left, and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stand in a car as they drive through Algiers Wednesday, Dec.19, 2012.
(AP Photo/Anis Belghoul)

After a brutal crackdown by France as Algeria fought for independence half a century ago, French President Francois Hollande's state visit Wednesday is meant to convey a new era of equal standing as partners. Whether hardliner islamists on the Algerian right -- or French conservatives opposed to acknowledgment of any gruesome excesses -- can sabotage the relationship will be key for maintaining an alliance against terrorism, and working together on France's plans to intervene in Mali's militant-plagued north.