2008: Algeria's biggest problem is not
Islamic terrorism, but decades of socialism. Like many post World War II Arab
countries, Algeria believed the Soviet propaganda that "socialist economics,"
as practiced in Russia, brought quick prosperity. It didn't, and the state
control over so much of the economy created economic stagnation, poverty and
unemployment. When television showed up in the 60s and 70s, and people could
see for themselves how much more affluent people were in market economies
(Europe and the United States), opposition to socialism arose. But the old
revolutionaries (who led the fight against French colonialism in the 1950s and
60s) liked things just the way they were. That's because the Soviet version of
socialism was remarkably similar to how Algeria had been ruled for centuries
before the French showed up in the 1830s. Back then, the nation was ruled by an
aristocracy, that controlled the economy as well. Very convenient, at least for
the minority in charge. Over the last few decades, most Algerians have figured
this out, and realized that they have been screwed. They want justice, and
jobs. The Islamic radicals promised to make things right via a religious
dictatorship. That turned into a bloodbath, and was eventually rejected.
still a pushing and shoving contest between the government (mainly the families
of the old revolutionaries, and their henchmen) and the majority of Algerians.
For those in their twenties, unemployment is over fifty percent, and there's a
growing anger that will be expressed one way or another. Probably with some
kind of violence. The new aristocracy does not want to give up their wealth and
power. Some in the government are urging massive and rapid reforms, but they
are not getting a lot of cooperation from their fellow bureaucrats. The future
looks bleak, bloody and violent.
2008: In two separatist incidents, two
terrorists and a soldier were killed.
2008: On the outskirts of the capital,
an Islamic suicide bomber on a motorbike attacked an army convoy. He managed to
kill himself, and wounded 13 soldiers. Another bomb was found nearby, and
2008: Mali, and its Tuareg tribal
rebels, have agreed to a ceasefire. The Tuareg and Berbers (a similar people
who are a large minority in Algeria) are remnants of the pre-Moslem people who
continue to resist the imposition of Arab culture on region.
2008: In Mali, Tuareg rebels attacked a
police station and kidnapped three policemen. The Tuareg rebels already hold 92
policemen prisoner. These hostages prevent the government from attacking Tuareg
villages, or in getting too violent in going after Tuareg rebels.
2008: The U.S. has frozen the assets of
four Algerian al Qaeda leaders (Salah Gasmi, Yahia Djouadi, Ahmed Deghdegh, and
Abid Hammadou). This is part of an American program to interfere with terrorist
financing any way they can. In the past, al Qaeda leaders were often able to
freely use the international banking system, which made it easier to finance