Algeria: Jihad For Jobs


July 31, 2008: Algeria's biggest problem is not Islamic terrorism, but decades of socialism. Like many post World War II Arab countries, Algeria believed the Soviet propaganda that "socialist economics," as practiced in Russia, brought quick prosperity. It didn't, and the state control over so much of the economy created economic stagnation, poverty and unemployment. When television showed up in the 60s and 70s, and people could see for themselves how much more affluent people were in market economies (Europe and the United States), opposition to socialism arose. But the old revolutionaries (who led the fight against French colonialism in the 1950s and 60s) liked things just the way they were. That's because the Soviet version of socialism was remarkably similar to how Algeria had been ruled for centuries before the French showed up in the 1830s. Back then, the nation was ruled by an aristocracy, that controlled the economy as well. Very convenient, at least for the minority in charge. Over the last few decades, most Algerians have figured this out, and realized that they have been screwed. They want justice, and jobs. The Islamic radicals promised to make things right via a religious dictatorship. That turned into a bloodbath, and was eventually rejected.

There is still a pushing and shoving contest between the government (mainly the families of the old revolutionaries, and their henchmen) and the majority of Algerians. For those in their twenties, unemployment is over fifty percent, and there's a growing anger that will be expressed one way or another. Probably with some kind of violence. The new aristocracy does not want to give up their wealth and power. Some in the government are urging massive and rapid reforms, but they are not getting a lot of cooperation from their fellow bureaucrats. The future looks bleak, bloody and violent.

July 29, 2008: In two separatist incidents, two terrorists and a soldier were killed.

July 27, 2008: On the outskirts of the capital, an Islamic suicide bomber on a motorbike attacked an army convoy. He managed to kill himself, and wounded 13 soldiers. Another bomb was found nearby, and defused.

July 21, 2008: Mali, and its Tuareg tribal rebels, have agreed to a ceasefire. The Tuareg and Berbers (a similar people who are a large minority in Algeria) are remnants of the pre-Moslem people who continue to resist the imposition of Arab culture on region.

July 19, 2008: In Mali, Tuareg rebels attacked a police station and kidnapped three policemen. The Tuareg rebels already hold 92 policemen prisoner. These hostages prevent the government from attacking Tuareg villages, or in getting too violent in going after Tuareg rebels.

July 17, 2008: The U.S. has frozen the assets of four Algerian al Qaeda leaders (Salah Gasmi, Yahia Djouadi, Ahmed Deghdegh, and Abid Hammadou). This is part of an American program to interfere with terrorist financing any way they can. In the past, al Qaeda leaders were often able to freely use the international banking system, which made it easier to finance terrorist operations.




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