Algeria: The China Factor

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July 27, 2009: For the last week, soldiers and police have been carrying out increased patrols and search operations to locate and arrest the few remaining Islamic terrorists. These few diehards are still able to recruit unemployed young men, train them, and carry out the occasional terror attack. Libya and Mali are also cooperating on patrolling the Sahel (semi-desert region south of the Sahara) and searching for Islamic terrorist activity there. But the current operation is in the north, along the coast, where most Algerians live.

In the south, the former Taureg rebels in Mali are joining the hunt for terrorists. The Tauregs live in the Sahel, and no one knows the parched region better. The Tauregs will be rewarded for any success they have in catching Islamic terrorists out there.

Police recently arrested three men and a women, and accused them of spying for France. The four were caught with photos of security installations, and admitted to working for someone in the French embassy. France has denied any involvement. But France is very interested in how Algeria carries out its counter-terror operations. France is aware, from interrogations of its own Algerian immigrants that have turned to terrorism, that Algeria continues to be a source of terrorists. This is because, while the terrorists have been defeated, a large segment (perhaps 20 percent) of the population is still religiously conservative. Nearly half the population is young, poor (usually un, or under-employed) and angry at the government for its corruption and inability to provide jobs and prosperity.

July 23, 2009: Islamic terrorists tossed a grenade at a security checkpoint 110 kilometers east of the capital, killing two and wounding four.

July 22, 2009: Algeria is moving its weekend to Friday-Saturday, from Thursday-Friday, to make it easier for Western, and Chinese, firms to do business in Algeria. Most Moslem nations now observe the Friday-Saturday weekend, although Islamic conservatives prefer the Thursday-Friday one.

July 20, 2009: Chinese firms won nearly $2 billion in contracts to help build a 300 kilometers railroad to link coastal areas with western highlands. This will open up that hilly region to more economic activity.

July 19, 2009: Algeria is mediating peace talks between Mali and its Taureg tribes, who have recently agreed to halt their rebellion on the promise that peace talks would be successful.

July 18, 2009: Terrorists attacked a military check point, killing two soldiers.

July 15, 2009: China issued a security alert to its citizens living in North Africa, where local Islamic terrorists have threatened new attacks. The Chinese have been targets before, of Islamic terrorist attack, and generally are careful about their security. The Algerian government does not want any embarrassing incidents with the Chinese, who have become a vital part of restoring economic growth. The many Chinese commercial projects have prospered through hard work, and Chinese government intervention to keep many of the bungling or corrupt Algerian government officials at bay.  Chinese firms have road building contracts worth over $5 billion, and many of these roads go through remote areas. But improved security measures have kept terrorists from interfering with these road building operations.

July 14, 2009: Al Qaeda in North Africa threatens revenge attacks against the 40,000 Chinese working in Algeria, because of the Chinese Moslems (the Uighurs, who are ethnic Turks) killed by police recently during ethnic riots in northwest China.

 

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