Algeria: The Other Threat Grows

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October 14, 2013: The January raid on a natural gas facility in southern Algeria (near the Tunisian border) that got 70 people killed (including all the Islamic terrorist attackers) has resulted in much tighter security around the facility and all others. The foreign firms are satisfied with the new security arrangements and are allowing their citizens to return to work at the plant. Without the foreigners, full production has not been resumed and a lot of other technical work had to be postponed.

Oil and natural gas account for 95 percent of exports and the foreign currency needed to buy imports. Most food is imported and over the last three decades the economy has stagnated because of corruption and continued belief in centralized control. If the current leadership (who have been in power since France left in the 1960s) wants to prevent another rebellion they have to fix the economy. But as long as the leaders refuse to allow foreign investment and local entrepreneurs to operate freely economic revival is not happening. Official unemployment is 10 percent but that includes a lot of marginal jobs provided by the government. For men under 30, the government admits there is a much higher unemployment rate (over 20 percent), and these are the people who would start and sustain another revolution. Few of these young men are attracted to Islamic terrorism any more, but most want some economic and social changes and so far all the government offers are admissions that there is a problem but no real solutions. Meanwhile, oil income is shrinking because current oil and gas fields are running dry and government investment restrictions and inept management hamper efforts to find new fields. The population increases and those who do not flee the country become angrier and more impatient.

The government believes that 4 diplomats taken captive by Islamic terrorists in Mali in April 2012 are still alive. But there is no direct contact with the captors and trying to free the 4 is difficult. The government does not want to pay ransom, so as not to encourage more such attacks.

October 11, 2013: Across the border in Tunisia, soldiers raided a house near the Kasserine Pass where a terrorist leader and some followers were reported (by a local informant) to be. After an hour long gun battle the Islamic terrorists escaped, leaving behind a phone and some ammo. Tunisian border police and soldiers have spent over 4 months hunting for up to 50 Islamic terrorists who are operating near the Kasserine Pass and Mount Chaambi in the Atlas Mountains just across the border. Tunisian security personnel are searching a hundred square kilometers of sparsely populated forests and mountains without much success. This is the first time Tunisia has had to deal with armed Islamic terrorists since 2007. These armed men have been active in the area since January. Some of these terrorists fled Mali earlier this year and others are from Algeria.

October 10, 2013: Algerian security forces on the southern borders with Mali and Libya killed 8 Islamic terrorists and captured weapons, documents, and vehicles. Unlike the operations in the Atlas Mountains up north, the border patrols have been more successful at killing and capturing Islamic terrorists.

Parliament is introducing stricter laws against terrorism and smuggling. The smugglers often work for Islamic terrorists, getting weapons and personnel in and out of the country. The new laws will make it easier to go after the smugglers.

October 3, 2013: West of the capital a roadside bomb went off, wounding 3 civilians. In the southern oasis town of Ghardaia, violence between Arab and Berber residents over water and religion led to 4 arrests and 6 policemen wounded while breaking up riots.

October 2, 2013: Tunisian police arrested 4 Islamic terrorists near the Algerian border. In the last 3 days police have arrested 31 actual (armed) or suspected Islamic terrorists in Tunisia. While several dozen armed Islamic terrorists are operating in the Atlas Mountains near the Algerian border, there are hundreds more throughout the country trying to organize an uprising that would establish a religious dictatorship. Most Tunisians want nothing to do with this.

October 1, 2013: Last month army personnel cleared over 4,800 mines along the eastern and western borders. Many of these mines date back to the 1960s.

 

 

 

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