Algeria: An Island In A Sea Of Tears

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April 6, 2015: The government believes there are at least 20,000 illegal migrants in the country and based on data from smugglers arrested at the borders that number is going to increase. The cause is continuing or growing rest to the south (Mali and Niger especially) and in Libya. While most of these illegals want to continue on to Europe, the Europeans are making illegal entry more difficult thus stranding more illegals in Algeria. The illegals are causing more anger among Algerians and growing incidents of violence against illegals. There is fear that some of the illegals may actually be Islamic terrorists, or even members of ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). That has happened, but very rarely. Most of these illegals are economic refugees the nearly all the remainders are trying to get away from Islamic terrorist violence. ISIL does have a presence in Algeria but only among a few small and scatted Islamic terror groups. These fanatics are considered dangerous no matter how few there are because they are more prone to carry out suicidal attacks.

The government reported that the military had removed 720,726 landmines since 2004. Army personnel find and clear these mines along the eastern and western borders. Many of these mines date back to the 1950s and 1960s. The landmine search has been was more stressful than the terrorist sweeps and gets a lot less publicity.  The number of mines cleared each month increased dramatically in 2007 when the French finally turned over the colonial era maps of the minefields. France planted over three million mines in the late 1950s. The 1,200 kilometers of mine fields were created to make it more difficult for Algerian rebels moving across the Tunisian and Moroccan borders.  Most of those mine fields are in remote areas and have never been cleared. But each year those tending herds in the border areas are killed or injured by the mines as are their animals. The mines in more traveled areas were removed soon after Algeria became independent in the 1960s. But now with accurate maps of the mine fields, the mines in remote areas can be cleared. That has been expensive, as the mines are now covered with more sand, or have shifted position because of rain and wind. The mine field maps were never a major issue between the two countries but France never offered to provide them until 2007 when the French army saw an opportunity to improve its relationship with Algeria. Since the 1950s, the French army has been particularly hated by Algerians, because of the rough tactics used during the late 1950s and early 1960s, before France finally left. But over the decades, the anger has abated. Before 2007 over a hundred Algerians were killed or wounded by these old mines each year. These losses have been greatly reduced since 2007 because the French maps enabled the government to warn people living in remote border areas where (in general) the uncleared mines were and to keep themselves and their animals away. Currently mines are being cleared at the rate of about 50,000 a year.

April 4, 2015: In the southwest (Adrar Province) soldiers encountered and killed an Islamic terrorist. Troops seized an AK-47, ammo, two cell phones, binoculars and documents from the dead man. Troops patrolling the border usually encounter smugglers and clashes with Islamic terrorists are rare. There are Islamic terrorists moving across the border, but they usually have more money to pay the most effective smugglers and that usually gets them in with false ID (and no weapons or identifiable terrorist gear).

The government sent an airliner to the capital of Yemen and evacuated 160 Algerians as well as 40 Tunisians, 15 Mauritians, eight Libyans, three Moroccans and a Palestinian. There is no functioning government in war-torn Yemen and most foreign nations are closing their embassies and getting their citizens out.

March 28, 2015: In central Tunisia security forces killed nine Islamic terrorists including a man later identified as the mastermind of the March 18 museum attack. In the capital thousands marched to protest Islamic terrorism and urge all Tunisians to turn against these murderous extremists.

March 26, 2015: In response to the formation of a coalition of Arab countries Saudi Arabia to deal with the Iran supported Shia rebellion in Yemen Algerian officials repeated its refusal to send troops outside the country or allow foreign forces to operate inside Algeria. This has been government policy for over a decade. Yet some senior Algerian officials admit this may be a mistake, because their troops were not trained well enough to avoid many foreigners being killed during the January 2013 attack on a natural gas facility in the southeast. Western nations continue pressuring Algeria to accept training help, if only to better defend themselves.

Tunisian officials reported that the March 18 attack on a museum was organized by a local Islamic terrorist group consisting of 23 people. All but five of these Islamic terrorists have already been arrested. Two of those in custody had fought with Islamic terrorists in Syria and three had done so in Libya.

March 23, 2015: About 120 kilometers east of the capital (in the largely Berber Kabylie region) the army moved a hundred Turkish men from their road construction project to a safe location for 24 hours because of the threat of an ISIL attack on the Turks.

March 22, 2015: In neighboring Tunisia, near the Algerian border, a soldier was killed and three wounded when their vehicle hit a mine planted by Islamic terrorists.

March 18, 2015: In neighboring Tunisia three Islamic terrorists, later found to have been trained in Libya, attacked a museum crowded with foreign tourists. Although police quickly responded, 21 people died from the terrorist gunfire, most of them foreign tourists. One of the attackers got away for a while. The other two attackers were shot dead on the scene increasing the death toll to 23. Tunisia called for more international efforts to end the violence in Libya and shut down the Islamic terrorist sanctuaries that now exist in Libya.

March 17, 2015: Some 150 kilometers southwest of the capital soldiers encountered and killed two armed Islamic terrorists. Soldiers also discovered explosives and other bomb making materials.

In Tunisia the government confirmed that a senior leader of Tunisian Islamic terrorists had recently been killed fighting ISIL forces in the eastern Libyan city of Sirte.

March 13, 2015: Algeria offered to host peace talks for the mess in Libya, as has neighboring Morocco. So far this year Libyan factions have held negotiating sessions in both countries, but no peace deal has yet been agreed to. Despite the appearance of ISIL in Libya Algeria and most Western nations (especially the EU) still see a negotiated settlement as the best way to deal with the Libya civil war. The Libyan Tobruk (officially recognized by the UN) government goes along with this, mainly because they cannot afford to annoy the UN and risk losing international recognition as the legitimate government. While Algeria continues to call for an “Algerian solution” to the chaos in Libya, less well publicized are the details of how Algeria achieved that solution. Algeria finally got a political deal with its surviving Islamic terrorists only after a decade of horrific violence. Because of all that slaughter Islamic radicalism lost most of its popular appeal by the late 1990s. This came after Islamic terrorists organized a rebellion earlier in the 1990s and murdered over 100,000 civilians who did not agree with (or enthusiastically aid) them. That bloodbath ended in 2005 with an amnesty deal that attracted most of the remaining Islamic terrorists. Some of the Islamic terrorists still operating in Algeria seem to acknowledge that connection and avoid further antagonizing civilians with the kind of mayhem still popular in places like Libya, Iraq and Syria. Despite the 2005 peace deal there were still about a hundred armed Islamic terrorists killed in Algeria during 2014. So far this year it appears that number will be lower for 2015. The increased Algerian border security, especially on the Mali and Libyan borders has led to more arrests, but almost all of those caught are smugglers, not Islamic terrorists. Most of the smugglers are moving consumer goods (cheap fuel, expensive alcohol, gadgets and low level drugs like cannabis, for use in Algeria) and illegal migrants headed for Europe.

 

 

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