Algeria: The Benefits Of A Hostile Atmosphere

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January 23, 2016: So far 2016 has been free of Islamic terrorist violence. There are still several hundred armed Islamic terrorists active and the continuing army patrols are finding and destroying more Islamic terrorist supplied, weapons and hiding places. Few Islamic terrorists are encountered and most of those that are found fight to the death. Troops prefer to take them alive because interrogation often yields valuable information on other Islamic terrorists and makes it easier to find them. But most of the Islamic terrorists still active are hard core, know the risks of being taken alive and usually prefer to die fighting. As Algeria has been fighting Islamic terrorists since the 1990s the intelligence services are among the best in the world when it comes to keeping up with local Islamic terrorist activity. Thus it is known that most Algerian Islamic terrorists have been killed, captured or left the country. Those that head for Europe tend to “retire” from the terrorist life. But those that go to places like Mali, Egypt and Syria are still active and some of those eventually try and return to Algeria to fight again. That has been happening less likely but may change. Islamic terrorists who face too much pressure in one place tend to move somewhere more hospitable. Algeria has found the best way to keep Islamic terrorists out (or at least quiet) is to create a hostile atmosphere for them. So the frequent and aggressive army and police patrols continue, as does general public support for this effort. Meanwhile the intel community has kept quiet about what they know of how rampant corruption and government mismanagement continues to generate new Islamic terrorist recruits. Intel officials who mention that problem too often or publicly tend to be fired or retired, no matter how senior they are.

Germany is pressuring Algeria (and other North African countries) to take back their citizens who entered Germany illegally. Germany and Algeria have a repatriation agreement but many illegal migrants purposely enter Germany without any identity documents, which makes it easier for them to make up any story that works to get them officially accepted for asylum as victims or persecution or whatever. Algeria often uses this lack of documents as a reason not to take back illegal migrants. This is common with Moslem countries, who are glad to be rid of anyone who does not want to stay in their homeland. This is often justified as a security measure so that an Islamic terrorist or criminal does not return. Germany has accepted this excuse in the past but German voters are now very angry at the increasing bad behavior of Moslem illegals and the government is under increasing pressure to send as many back as possible. The vast majority of these illegals are young men and many of them often turn to crime, and occasionally Islamic terrorism. Germany identified 847 Algerian illegals arriving in June 2015 but because of news that Germany was letting just about anyone in that number increased to 2,296 in December. Meanwhile Algeria identified 16,792 illegal African migrants entering Algeria from the south. Using repatriation agreements 43 percent of them were sent home.

Despite the problem with repatriation Algeria has been increasingly cooperative and helpful to European police and intelligence organizations, especially when it comes to Islamic terrorism. Unofficially, Algerian officials admit that are not too concerned about most of the refugees and will report any of their known or suspected Islamic terrorists who are believed to have headed north. The Algerians also help identify Algerian illegals who get arrested in Europe and are suspected of being involved with Islamic terrorism. If Algeria cannot identify a suspect right away they will start an investigation in Algeria. There is some self-interest involved here because it sometimes happen that an Algerian illegal migrant will get radicalized in Europe and either return to Algeria or support others who wish to do so in order to commit terrorist acts in Algeria. This cooperation has been going on the longest with France, which was one of the first European countries to attract Algerian terrorists. That‘s because France occupied Algeria as a colony for over a century before leaving (involuntarily) in the early 1960s. Many Algerians had already migrated legally to France by then and many Algerians still learn French in school or from parents. So France has long been a favorite destination of legal and illegal Algerian migrants.

A major reason for migrating is the lack of jobs, and much else, in Algeria. In addition to the persistent corruption Algeria has an even more serious economic problem with a growing shortage of money. The main cause of this is the continued low oil price. This means Algeria is getting less than half the income from oil sales in 2015 compared to the same period in 2012, before the price of oil began to tumble. In 2015 the price of oil fell another 34 percent. The impact of this can be seen in the decline in foreign exchange holdings, which declined 16 percent (to $151 billion) in 2015. This does a lot of damage to the economy but the government says it has a plan to cope and that seems to be working because GDP continues to grow (at about three percent a year) but at a lower rate than in the past. Algerians in general are coping. For example imports of luxury and “non-essentials” are down over 35 percent in 2015. This includes automobiles. The decline in oil income is likely to get worse in 2016. In late 2014 Algeria prepared its budget for 2015 based on oil selling for an average of $37 a barrel (a price that was reached at the end of 2015). That follows price of oil falling 50 percent since 2013 (from $120 to $40 a barrel) in early 2015. In early 2016 the price went below $30 a barrel. The government only expects to receive $25 billion from oil and natural gas in 2016 and cash reserves will shrink another 20 percent (to $121 billion) by the end of that year.

January 22, 2016: In the southeast, in Guezzam on the Niger border, an army patrol arrested smugglers and seized two vehicles, three assault rifles and 142 rounds of ammo. The weapons were apparently meant to be sold in Algeria.

January 20, 2016: A Chinese firm signed a contract to build a new port facility 60 kilometers west of the capital. This will cost $3.3 billion, with China paying for it and Chinese builders handling the construction on an effort which will take about seven years. The 23 docks in the new port will be able to handle 26 million tons of cargo a year, most of it in containers. China and the Algerian government will operate the port, which will be one of the largest in North Africa. China is becoming a major presence in Algeria. By 2013 Chinese firms had invested $1.5 billion in Algeria and there were some 30,000 Chinese working in Algeria for fifty Chinese companies. Since 2013 Chinese investment has grown enormously and by the end of the decade will amount to more than $1o billion in just twenty years. Most of the Chinese are working on transportation (roads, ports and railroad) projects. Although Algeria has lots of unemployment, there are few people with the necessary skills for many of these projects, so China brings in skilled workers from China. Some of those Chinese will settle down in Algeria, but not as many as in non-Arab Africa. The Arabs are not as accepting of foreigners as many other cultures are. While many oil-rich Arab states import foreigners for most of the civilian jobs, these workers are not encouraged to stay and there are strict laws governing the presence of the foreign workers. Algeria sees the Chinese investments, especially in infrastructure, as a way to get the local economy growing and thus provide jobs for the many young Algerians who are increasingly angry about being unemployed. The Chinese workers are very efficient and tend to get their projects done on time and on budget. This makes the Chinese popular with the government which, mainly because of corruption, is notoriously inefficient, especially when it comes to building things for the public.

January 19, 2016: In the east (Boumerdes province) troops found and destroyed four bunkers built by Islamic terrorists as hideouts.

January 17, 2016: In the southeast near (Amenas near the Libyan border) found a hidden assault rifle and 129 rounds of ammo. It was unclear if the weapon belonged to smugglers, local criminals or Islamic terrorists.

January 15, 2016: In Batna (500 kilometers east of the capital) troops encountered an armed Islamic terrorist who refused to surrender and was shot dead. Troops seized an assault rifle, ammo, binoculars and five cell phones.

January 14, 2016: In the northeast, just across the Tunisia border in Tabarka police arrested a known Algerian Islamic terrorist who was trying to sneak into Algeria.

January 12, 2016: In the southeast near the Amenas gas plant, the scene of a major Islamic terrorist attack in 2013, troops ambushed and arrested seven Islamic terrorists and seized three vehicles. Interrogators are still trying to find out what the men were doing in such an isolated area near the border.

January 8, 2016: In Batna (500 kilometers east of the capital) troops found and destroyed nine sites where Islamic terrorists had stashed supplies. Most of it consisted of food and clothing but there was also five bombs, bomb components and rifle ammunition.

January 5, 2016: Troops searching Bouira province (120 kilometers southeast of the capital) a weapons caches containing 15 kg (33 pounds) of explosives, two RPG launchers and two bombs.

 

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