Algeria: Feeding Peace

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August 2, 2011: Libyan rebels continue to accuse Algeria of quietly supporting the Libyan government. No proof has been presented, but the two countries share a long border in desolate country. There is apparently some smuggling going on, as there has been for centuries. But nothing large scale. The border is long and in semi-desert territory.

Meanwhile, the population remains angry, but peaceful. The government is trying to keep it that way. For example, the government pointed out that over 73,000 people had been convicted of corruption in the last few years. What bothers most Algerians is that the worst offenders (senior officials and major business owners) never seem to get punished. The government repeated promises of many and wide-ranging reforms. But the belief is that the ruling families are going to do everything short of actually giving up power and the wealth they have stolen over several decades. Most Algerians are angry about all this, but two decades of Islamic terrorism, and often savage government response, has held down any enthusiasm for violent revolution. At least so far, and the government hopes it stays that way. The government knows that if they can get the economy growing, they can avoid retribution and removal from power, for a long time. The government is also easing up on the police-state practices. For example, journalists who "insult" the state or, more importantly, senior officials (by, for example, accusing someone of corruption or incompetence) will no longer be jailed, but fined.

On a more fundamental level, the government has increased food imports over 50 percent this year, in order to keep food prices down. Food costs have been rising worldwide, but this has been particularly painful for the many poor families in the Arab world. The government has also noticed that some of the anti-government violence in the Arab world this year could be traced back to high food prices.

July 31, 2011: A roadside bomb killed two soldiers, 370 kilometers southwest of the capital. Nearby, another such bomb was found and disabled.

July 30, 2011: The king of Morocco has called for improved relations with Algeria. Relations between the two countries have been cool since the 1970s, and the border has been closed since 1994. The main dispute is over some disputed desert territory in southern Morocco.

July 27, 2011: Police identified a suicide bomber, in a town 300 kilometers east of the capital, and tried to arrest him. But the man detonated his explosives, killing only himself.

July 25, 2011: A group of three Islamic terrorists were caught by police 60 kilometers east of the capital. They were two suicide bombers and their handler trying to get into the capital. All three were killed. The man in charge of the group was later identified as the 23 year old son of a leader of the FIS, one of the major Islamic terror groups the government defeated in the 1990s.

July 22, 2011: On the Moroccan border, Moroccan border guards intercepted a group of armed men trying to cross from Algeria. There was a gun fight, leaving one soldier dead. The armed men, apparently Islamic terrorists based in Algeria, fled back into Algeria.

July 19, 2011: A suicide bomber attacked a police station 70 kilometers east of the capital, killing a policeman and wounding several others. Like most such attacks, al Qaeda took credit.

July 19, 2011: In the south, troops intercepted a group of seven armed foreigners, apparently coming from Niger and headed for Libya. The men refused to surrender and attempted to flee. But during a running gun battle, all seven were killed. The men were believed to be al Qaeda members.

July 16, 2011: Two suicide bombers attacked, 70 kilometers east of the capital, leaving four dead.

July 15, 2011: On the Tunisian border, police killed two armed Islamic terrorists.

July 13, 2011: Some 80 kilometers east of the capital, a suicide bomber killed three.

July 11, 2011: The Italian foreign minister became the first Western official to agree that al Qaeda has been getting weapons, especially portable anti-aircraft missiles, out of looted Libyan bases, and moving them into and through neighboring countries, like Algeria.

July 5, 2011: Near the southern border, Mauritanian troops killed twenty al Qaeda members and scattered even more in a pursuit that crossed the border into Mali. Ten terrorists were captured.

July 4, 2011: Responding to growing public anger, fifteen soldiers were arrested for accidentally killing an innocent security guard during a counter-terror sweep east of the capital last month.

July 2, 2011: At Tizi Wezzu, fifty kilometers east of the capital, six people were wounded by two roadside bombs.

June 30, 2011: The government is buying two Steregushchy (or "Tiger") class corvettes from Russia. These heavily armed warships are built for coastal patrol and defense.

 

 

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