Algeria: Sticking It To Those Self-Righteous Americans


May 31, 2010: While Morocco and Algeria cooperate on terrorism issues, their 1,600 kilometer border remains closed (since 1994, when Algerian terrorists attacked a Moroccan mountain resort.) Morocco still believes the Algerian government had something to do with the 1994 attack, which is linked to a 35 year old land dispute (the Western Sahara). Morocco has tried to make nice, but Algerian paranoia and resentment keeps getting in the way. Long held grudges are a common problem in the region.

Algeria has a growing problem with another form of Islamic radicalism. Iran has been sending missionaries, armed with lots of cash, and engaged in aggressive attempts to convert Sunnis there, to the militant brand of Shia Islam favored in Iran. This kind of missionary work is forbidden in Algeria, but Iran keeps dangling the prospect of nuclear energy (and weapons) technology in front of Algeria, to keep the heat off the Shia missionaries. Algeria allows Algerian religious students to go to school in Iran, but fifty of these Algerian students recently converted to Shia Islam, causing an uproar back home. Shia missionary activity so angered neighboring Morocco, that diplomatic relations with Iran were cut last year. Morocco has also cracked down on Wahabi missionaries (Sunni radicals) from Saudi Arabia, and Islamic radicals in general.

May 25, 2010:  In Mauritania, a court sentenced three al Qaeda members to death, for the attack on five French tourists in 2007 (which left four of them dead.) Sentences like this are thought to discourage others from joining al Qaeda.

May 24, 2010:  Upset with long delivery times and hassles over human rights issues, the military announced that it would reduce arms purchases from the United States, and buy similar weapons from Russia (which is prompt, cheaper, pays bribes, and doesn't care about bad behavior). The Russian weapons are not as effective. But Algeria only expects to use this stuff against terrorists, Algerian rebels or neighboring countries. So high quality weapons are not really necessary. Plus it feels nice to stick it to those self-righteous Americans.

May 19, 2010:  A roadside bomb, 55 kilometers east of the capital, killed two soldiers and wounded 18.

May 14, 2010:  Soldiers cornered and killed three Islamic terrorists, and captured another, in a forest 350 kilometers east of the capital.

May 13, 2010:  American, Dutch, and Spanish special operations troops have been training counter-terrorism forces from Mali and Senegal. The U.S. is also helping the nations along Algeria's southern border build a communications network, and a set of protocols, so that Islamic terrorists operating in the area can't escape by simply crossing a border.

May 6, 2010: Al Qaeda is demanding the release of an unspecified number of Islamic terrorists, in North Africa and France, in exchange for a 78 year old French tourist it had kidnapped in Mali in April. Al Qaeda will probably later settle for a cash payment. The Frenchman had travelled to an area near the Algerian border that tourists are advised to stay away from. The Frenchman's driver was later arrested and accused of being part of the kidnapping effort.





Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contribute. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   contribute   Close