Algeria: The Revolution Is On Hold

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March 30, 2011: Over the last two months, the weekly pro-reform demonstrations have become smaller and smaller. The government made some concessions, but also has much more efficient security services courtesy of two decades of fighting Islamic radicals. While these terror groups have been defeated, there are still remnants out there, terrorizing civilians in remote areas and making a few attacks a month, just enough to remain in the public consciousness and keep the security forces on their toes. But the rebellious spirit appears to have been transferred to economic issues, with more and more groups going on strike for more pay, housing and better working conditions. The only ones getting raises are the police, although their working conditions these days are quite stressful.

The government has promised reforms, and most Algerians still want some meaningful (more jobs and less corruption) changes. They will wait a bit longer, if only because the security forces are plentiful and, unlike the rest of the government, competent. The desire for change is strong, and unless the current dictatorship (descended from families of those who led the 1950s-60s revolt against French rule) can truly change, violence will return.

The government continues to condemn the NATO enforcement of the recent UN resolution (to halt Libyan government attacks on Libyan civilians). This action was originally backed by the Arab League, but this organization of Arab states (most of them run by despots or monarchs) changed their minds once the bombs hit Libya. Algerian leaders were always against attacking neighboring Libya. There, the leader (Kaddafi), while quite eccentric, was a despot that the Algerian leadership could understand and work with. A democratic government in Libya will encourage Algerian reformers.  

March 8, 2011: Five civilians were killed when their vehicle triggered a roadside bomb some 270 kilometers south of the capital. The civilians were moving along a road that is frequently used by military patrols. Someone screwed up, but the Islamic terrorists are already very unpopular in Algeria, and this sort of incident just reinforces the hatred. Most of the remaining Islamic terrorists appear to have moved south, into more thinly populated areas. There, especially along Algeria's southern borders, al Qaeda sustains itself with smuggling cocaine from Guinea-Bissau, where it is flown in from South America for movement overland to the Mediterranean coast. While this has turned the local branch of al Qaeda into gangsters, this is a natural evolution for many terror groups. Some of these Islamic terrorists are seduced by all the money, and the drugs, while many others are simply better armed and equipped to continue their terrorist activities.

 

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