That Algeria didn’t inform the U.S.—much less collaborate with it—before launching the raid should come as no surprise. Since 9/11, both the Bush and Obama administrations have tried to cultivate a relationship with Algeria’s military, intelligence, and security ministries. There have been occasional successes. Algerian officers have trained with the U.S. military; U.S. intelligence agencies shared overhead imagery of Algeria’s vast border; and the two sides at times cooperated against a common enemy, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group’s North African affiliate.

But in general, distrust has been a hallmark of the strained relationship between the U.S. and Algeria. Under President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the Algerian military has never agreed to the large kinds of defense aid packages other North African allies like Morocco and Egypt accepted. Known as foreign military financing, these kinds of grants can theoretically give the U.S. leverage over—and insight into—foreign militaries. (Algeria’s primary weapons supplier is Moscow, a relationship that goes back to the Cold War, when the Russians trained Algeria’s intelligence service and military.)

Algeria has also at times chafed at U.S. decisions. In January 2010, the Transportation Security Administration included Algeria on a watch list of national passports that would receive more scrutiny at airports following the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Dec. 25, 2009.