Algeria: Home Deadly Home

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October 3, 2015: The government decided to keep the Libyan border closed until the two rival Libyan governments agreed to a unification deal the UN has been pushing. At that point the border will be reopened when the new government demonstrates that it is capable of policing its side of the border and dealing with all the Islamic terror groups operating there.

Meanwhile back in Algeria the government is facing a growing problem with the budget. Oil and gas income has fallen by about half since 2011. That’s some $30 billion less each year and this year the shortfall is expected to be $35 billion. Oil and gas are nearly all (97 percent) of the country's export revenues, and 40 percent of GDP. The 2015 budget keeps spending levels largely the same and to do that the shortfall has to come out of the reserves. This cannot continue for long as Algeria only has $150 billion in reserves and not much in the way of credit for big loans to cover budget deficits. The government has decided to raise taxes (especially on fuel, Internet access, electricity and imported computers) but that will not eliminate the problem of long-term low oil prices.

These cash shortages make budget reforms and dealing with corruption more urgent. For example, corrupt officials enable over $40 billion in untaxed goods to be smuggled in each year. While the army and police concentrate on the small operators bringing goods in overland in the south or from Morocco, the big money is in bribed officials allowing shiploads to come in untaxed through the major ports. The government has been going through the motions of cracking down and most Algerians know this is all for show.  The budget crisis puts more pressure on the government to follow through on corruption crackdowns. The business community, especially foreign firms, are also keen to see less corruption. If the low oil prices continue the government may not have any choice in dealing with the ancient and endemic corruption.

While the number of Islamic terrorist incidents continues to decline small groups of AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) are still hiding out in the coastal mountains east of the capital. This has been so for years and troops and police are constantly searching the thinly populated mountains and forests of these coastal provinces. This limits the mobility of both Islamic terrorist groups and reduces their ability to attack the security forces or each other. There are still violent contacts and even more evidence that the armed groups are out there.

Because there are few Islamic radicals left in Algeria the security forces spend a lot of their time along the Tunisian, Libyan and Mali borders dealing with terrorists coming or going to those places. These troops can often hear gunfire and explosions across the border of Mali, where peacekeepers and local troops are trying to deal with rebellious Tuareg tribesmen not satisfied with the most recent peace deal. Algerian troops are particularly alert on the Mali border because Algeria has long been popular with smugglers of all sorts of stuff (including weapons and Islamic terrorists). Over the last decade most of the Algerian Islamic terrorists were killed, captured, ran off to Europe, or south into the desert and across the southern borders into Black Africa. Despite that many want to come back and occasionally some do just that.

Islamic terrorists returning home have heard of the risks. Inside Algeria too many civilians remain hostile to Islamic radicalism and will phone in a tip via the growing cell phone network. Algeria has become a very dangerous place for Islamic terrorists. Algerian Islamic radicals tried to capitalize on the 2011 Arab Spring unrest in neighboring Tunisia and Libya and the 2012 Tuareg rebellion in Mali. But in all those countries the popular uprising was against the local dictators, not for Islamic radicalism. The uprisings weakened the local security forces and made it easier for Islamic radicals to move around and recruit. Algeria increased its border security to help deal with the growing number of Islamic terrorists in Mali, Tunisia and Libya. Mali and Tunisia have made real progress in eliminating (arresting. killing or driving out of the country) most of their Islamic terrorists. Libya is the favorite sanctuary for Islamic terrorists and has so far been difficult to clean up.

Many expect another, and larger, Arab Spring in Algeria eventually but so far the geriatric government is making concessions and trying to reform itself. This is delaying another revolution not eliminating the possibility of one.

September 22, 2015: Egypt and Algeria are calling on the Libyan Tobruk government to halt its offensive in Benghazi. This would put more pressure on the rival Tripoli government to get its dissident factions in line and agree to the UN sponsored peace deal.

September 17, 2015: France revealed that Algerian Islamic terrorist recruiter Said Arif was killed by an American UAV missile attack in May.  Said Arif belonged has belonged to al Qaeda affiliated groups since the 1990s and was killed while in Syria while working for a Syrian Islamic terrorist rebel group. A growing number of Algerian men have been joining Islamic terrorist groups in Syria and that is largely due to the efforts of Said Arif, whose recruiting efforts bring in new recruits from many Moslem countries. In the past Said Arif had been very active in France, which wanted him in connection with several Islamic terrorist related deaths. Said Arif began as an Islamic terrorists in Algeria where he had served in the army as a junior army officer before deserting. He soon fled the counter-terrorism effort in Algeria and sought out al Qaeda.

September 9, 2015:  Some 50 kilometers east of the capital troops searching for Islamic terrorists encountered two, who opened fire rather than surrender. The two Islamic terrorists were killed and an AK-47 and ammo seized.

The U.S. has put another Algerian Islamic terrorist (Abu Obaida Yusuf al Annabi) on its wanted list. Al Annabi is a leader in AQIM and increasingly active on the Internet, where he often appears in video and audio messages calling for more recruits and Islamic terrorist violence. Al Annabi has frequently called for attacks in France and is wanted in France for terrorist activities. Like many other Algerian Islamic terrorists al Annabi got his start in Algeria but fled the increasingly effective counter-terrorist efforts there.

 

 

 

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