Understanding The Insurgency In Algeria

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During the 1990s, a political party, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), began to make serious inroads into the political dominance of the National Liberation Front. After the FIS made serious gains in the first round of a December 1991 election, the Algerian military stepped in and suspended the elections.

What motivated the army were fears by the secular community of an extremist led government. The eventual crackdown on the FIS by government forces has led to a decade and a half of unrest. Elections did eventually resume with the FIS excluded.

In recent years, insurgents loyal to the FIS and extremist causes have diminished their attacks. In 2003, they were ready to lay down their arms in the face of government offered amnesty; but, instead they have joined forces with al Qaeda operatives. While Algerians do not face day-to-day warfare, insurgents do occasionally make attacks where government influence is thin (e.g., rural villages.) There are also the occasional car bombs.

Longstanding problems continue to face [the Algerian government], including the ethnic minority Berbers' ongoing autonomy campaign, large-scale unemployment, a shortage of housing, unreliable electrical and water supplies, government inefficiencies and corruption.

Algeria is an oil-producing nation, accounting for 95% of their exports. While they enjoy a trade imbalance in their favor, the Algerian government needs to diversify its economy and try to elevate its population out of poverty.


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