Algeria: False Comparisons With Egypt


July 17, 2013: In Egypt the army deposed an elected Islamic radical government on July 3rd. Some comparisons are being made to a similar situation in Algeria two decades ago. The comparisons tend to ignore some important differences. First, the Algerian Islamic parties were blocked from taking power and went on to garner popular support during their decade-long uprising by reminding Algerians of all the good things that would have happened if the generals had not stepped in. In Egypt the Islamic parties had a year to act and they mostly did things that disappointed or frightened Egyptians. Moreover, Egypt has had a recent bout of Islamic terrorism, when Islamic radicals launched a major terror campaign and were crushed in the 1990s, largely because the public turned against them. Some of the leaders of that terror campaign fled Egypt, and one of them now is the head of al Qaeda. Several of these Moslem Brotherhood leaders (and many followers) helped organize al Qaeda.

In Algeria the terrorism campaign was a little longer and a lot bloodier (over 100,000 dead) than in Egypt (a few thousand dead). As in Algeria there have been more terrorist attacks since then but on a much lower level of intensity. Egyptians, like Algerians, have had it with Islamic terrorists and their false promises. Both countries are still trying to do something about the persistent corruption that makes their lives so miserable. In both countries the military is as corrupt as every other aspect of government. Many Algerians see the Egyptian situation as confirmation that you cannot do business with the Islamic radicals, who want a religious dictatorship and really do believe that democracy is un-Islamic.

Algerian terrorist leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar (the planner of the January natural gas facility attack in the southeast that got 37 workers killed) has taken responsibility for planning two spectacular attacks in neighboring Niger last month. Belmokhtar was thought to have been killed in March, but that turned out to not be the case. In response the U.S. has put a $5 million price on his head. Belmokhtar and the supreme leader of al Qaeda in North Africa (Abdel Malek Droukdel) are believed to be still hiding out in southern Algeria or just across the border in Libya. The recent destruction of so many al Qaeda bases in Mali, and the death of hundreds of hard-core Islamic terrorists there, has demoralized Islamic radicals throughout North Africa. At the same time all counter-terrorism forces in the region are trying to take advantage of all this by seeking out Islamic terrorists fleeing Mali. Belmokhtar appears to have made it out and is being sought in Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and several countries to the south.

July 12, 2013: In the east (Khenchela province) two civilians were killed and two wounded when they encountered a roadside bomb on a country road. The four were returning from a fishing trip and the Islamic terrorists apparently mistook them for a police patrol.

June 27, 2013: On the Libyan border (1,800 kilometers southeast of the capital) troops tracked down and cornered a group of Islamic terrorists who had secretly crossed the border. Seven of the Islamic terrorists were killed, and troops continued searching for others. The army believes Islamic terror groups in Libya have been planning large attacks in Algeria.



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