Algeria: Fear At The Top

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February 15, 2016: The government is not only faced with a growing money crises (because of the sharp and persistent fall in oil prices) but growing dissatisfaction within its own ranks. A growing number of key officials, especially in the security forces and the intelligence organizations are speaking (or leaking) what they know of how rampant corruption and government mismanagement that continues to generate new Islamic terrorist recruits. Officials identified doing this too often or publicly tend to be fired or retired, no matter how senior they are. A growing number of senior officials are facing up to the fact that government corruption and mismanagement are the major reason for the persistent high unemployment that causes so many young (and often well educated) Algerians it migrate or join Islamic terror groups. A growing number of the migrants are the kind of talented people the government wants to hire to try and revitalize the government and the economy. These migrants no longer believe the government can reform itself and this issue is causing growing discontent within the government itself. There is a sense that the government was lucky in 2011 and avoided a major uprising only because so many Algerians still had vivid and painful memories of Islamic terrorist driven uprising in the 1990s. Those memories are fading while the housing shortages, unemployment and government corruption are daily experiences.

The improved intelligence sharing agreements with European governments are paying off. With access to known Algerian Islamic terrorists European governments have an easier time finding Islamic terrorists hiding among many (over a million in the last year) Moslem illegal migrants flooding into Europe to escape violence, corruption and poverty in their homelands. Algeria notes that some of the remaining Islamic terrorists in Algeria spent time in Europe or were radicalized there. However there appear to be more Algerian Islamic terrorists outside the country (Syria and Europe) than inside Algeria, which has become a very hostile environment for Islamic terrorists.

February 13, 2016: About 120 kilometers east of the capital (Tizi Ouzou province) soldiers killed an Islamic terrorist who was armed with an AK-47 and lots of ammo. Further south (Ain Defla, 145 kilometers southwest of the capital) a search operation found more than ten bunkers built by Islamic terrorists for shelter and storing equipment. The bunkers were destroyed. Meanwhile in Boumerdes province (60 kilometers east of the capital) police found and disabled two locally made bombs.

February 9, 2016: In Bouira province (120 kilometers southeast of the capital) troops encountered an Islamic terrorist, killed him and seized several weapons, including a machine-gun and over a hundred rounds of ammo.

February 8, 2016: In the south, on the Mali border near Bordj Badji Mokhtar, troops discovered an underground storage site containing weapons (two AK-47s one machine-gun, RPG rockets, over 60 grenades plus explosives and thousands of rounds of ammo.) It was unclear if these weapons were to later be moved deeper into Algeria or into Mali, where there is more demand for illegal weapons.

February 7, 2016: The parliament passed much needed changes to the constitution, but reformers were not impressed because as long as power is monopolized by a few families (which were prominent in the 1960s rebellion against France) new laws will not change anything. That’s because some of the “new” reforms were implemented in the past but then cancelled when it suited the corrupt and dictatorial ruling families. Unless the government introduces and enforces honest voting and then obeys the law, there can be no real reform. This is a common pattern worldwide and especially in the Middle East. Everyone knows that corruption and bad government are the main cause of stagnant economies and general unrest but not enough of those in charge are willing to give up enough power to fix the problem. In part this is because of the well-founded (in history) fear that another group of corrupt officials will resume the practice of rigging elections.

February 2, 2016: A court sentenced six oil company managers to prison after they were convicted of corruption. It is common knowledge that there is a lot of corruption in the state oil company (Sonatrach) because oil and gas exports account for 30 percent of GDP, 95 percent of exports and provide enough income to cover 60 percent of the government budget. That was in 2013, before the price of oil fell over 70 percent. Oil and gas are still important, even more so because that income has been reduced by more than half and the government cannot make a lot of cuts because much government spending is to buy the loyalty of key segments of the population like government employees, especially those in the security forces and oil industry. Thus many people see the sudden eagerness to prosecute corrupt officials directed mainly at maintaining the loyalty (to the corrupt government) of key groups. What most people want is less corruption and incompetent government officials getting in the way of starting and running new businesses. There is little enthusiasm for that among the ruling families, who prosper by using their government power to help other family members to establish profitable monopolies. These inefficient monopolies would be destroyed if not for the corruption that hinders the creation and operation of competing firms.

January 27, 2016: The government suspended commercial airline flights to Libya over concern about Islamic terrorist movements. This came days after the government prevented 270 Moroccans from continuing their flight to Libya because none of the Moroccans had a legitimate reason to go to Libya and some were suspected of going there to join ISIL. The government asked Morocco for help but the matter is still unresolved.

 

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