ABSTRACT

Algeria: Current Issues [February 22, 2011]   [open pdf - 418KB]

"The United States has increasingly viewed the government of Algeria, as an important partner in the fight against Al Qaeda linked groups in North Africa. The Algerian economy is largely based on hydrocarbons, and the country is a significant source of natural gas for the United States and Europe. Algeria receives little development assistance from the United States, but its security forces benefit from U.S. security assistance and participation in bilateral and regional military cooperation programs. Algeria's relative stability, always tenuous, has most recently been challenged by a series of riots and popular demonstrations that have occurred since early January 2011. The unrest initially appeared to be motivated by discontent over food prices, but has turned more overtly political since mid-January. The example of neighboring Tunisia's 'Jasmine Revolution' and the ripple effects of ongoing unrest in Egypt may contribute to opposition activism, with further protests anticipated in mid-February. The government has reacted both by attempting to assuage the public through political and economic concessions and by using the security forces to prevent and break up demonstrations. Across the region, other authoritarian governments have adopted a similar approach with varying results. The United States has increasingly viewed the government of Algeria as an important partner in counterterrorism and the fight against Al Qaeda-linked groups in North Africa. The Algerian economy is largely based on hydrocarbons, and the country is a significant source of natural gas for the United States and Europe. Algeria receives little development assistance from the United States, but its security forces benefit from U.S. security assistance and participation in bilateral and regional military cooperation programs. Algeria's relative stability, always tenuous, has most recently been challenged by a series of riots, strikes, and popular demonstrations that have occurred since early January 2011. The unrest initially appeared to be motivated by discontent over food prices, but has turned more overtly political since mid-January. The example of neighboring Tunisia's 'Jasmine Revolution' and the ripple effects of ongoing unrest in Egypt may contribute to opposition activism, with further protests anticipated in mid-February. The government has reacted both by attempting to assuage the public through political and economic concessions and by using the security forces to prevent and break up demonstrations. Across the region, other authoritarian governments have adopted a similar approach with varying results. Algeria's political system is dominated by a strong presidency. The military is the heir to Algeria's long struggle for independence from France, and has remained the most significant political force since independence in 1962."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RS21532
Author:
Publisher:
Date:
2011-02-22
Series:
Copyright:
Public Domain
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application/pdf
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