Algeria: The Conundrum

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June 23, 2014: Many opposition groups have formed a new coalition but after meeting recently found that organizing for much-needed reforms was difficult because of numerous differences. This is an old problem in Algeria thus the opposition is stuck in a cycle of high hopes and bleak prospects. The opposition is split by ethnic, religious, political and economic beliefs. This creates disputes over exactly what to do as well as how to do it. Meanwhile the grassroots anger at the corrupt government grows. The families that have ruled Algeria for half a century are focused on maintaining their political power and retaining their embezzled fortunes no matter what. This has produced the needed unity among the families despite occasional disagreements. Nevertheless the national mood has grown angrier and the trend of more and more protest demonstrations is apparently escalating. This sort of thing leads to injuries and deaths among the protestors which in turn leads to more people willing to consider armed resistance. But many Algerians still have bitter memories of the 1990s when a major uprising of Islamic conservative groups left over 200,000 dead and inflicted enormous economic damage. Fear of going through that again continues to damper enthusiasm for another revolution.

Algeria has had some recent successes in dealing with its long, largely unguarded borders. These are 6,343 kilometers long and include frontiers with seven countries. Moreover most of these borderlands are in the thinly occupied desert. Before aircraft were invented it was impossible to secure these borders. But even with aircraft a tightly sealed border remains impossible. About half that area is dangerous because of the Islamic terrorist threat in those countries. Libya, Mali and Tunisia comprise 52 percent of Algeria’s borders and the 1,376 kilometer long Mali border is particularly troublesome since it is all desert and very popular with smugglers and other outlaws from the regions to the south. Thus the Algerian effort to promote peace in northern Mail. This is having some success. Tunisia and Libya have also become less dangerous because Algeria is a hostile refuge for Islamic terrorists fleeing increasingly successful counter-terrorism efforts.

June 21, 2014: The government has agreed to buy 980 Fuchs armored vehicles from a German firm. These are six wheeled armored vehicles similar to the American Stryker. Wheeled armored vehicles are more suitable for Algeria, which has lots of roads or trackless deserts that allow wheeled vehicles to operate effectively.

June 20, 2014: Just across the border in Tunisia an army patrol encountered a landmine planted by local Islamic terrorists. One soldier was killed and five wounded. Tunisian forces have been seeking out a few dozen Islamic terrorists who, for over a year, have evaded detection in the coastal mountains near the Algerian border.

June 19, 2014: In Tunisia intelligence officials revealed they had discovered terrorist plans to target Jews and Westerners in Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria for attack during Ramadan (June 28-July 28). Tunisia is one of the more secular Arab countries and attracts more Western tourists as a result but Algeria and Egypt are also popular tourist destinations for Westerners. The Islamic terrorists are going after the tourist trade because it is an important part of the economy and the source of forbidden (according to Islamic conservatives) cultural influences.

June 15, 2014: In the capital several Mali Tuareg separatist groups signed an agreement to hold peace talks with each other and the Mali government to create a permanent settlement to the many disputes between the Tuareg and the Mali government.

June 12, 2014: Across the border in Tunisia police clashed with a group of Islamic terrorists, killed two armed men and seized weapons and documents.

June 1, 2014: The government has sent another 5,000 troops to the Libyan border just in case the recent fighting between Islamic terrorist groups and many tribal and military groups that oppose the Islamic radicalism, spills over into Algeria. So far that has not happened, mainly because most of the fighting is in eastern Libya.

 

 

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