Chaos in Libya Threatens Algerian Stablity
An increase in terrorist attacks, caused by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), “threatens pro-western Algeria’s political stability even as it struggles to defuse popular discontent sparked by the Arab spring, according to a new study.” The study, conducted by Andrew Lebovich, showed a sharp increase in terrorist activity starting in April. African and Algerian leaders have noted that the military intervention on Libya could destabilize Algeria “by encouraging jihadist attacks and the movement of militants back and forth.”
The resurgence of AQIM comes as Algeria has tried to avoid an uprising modeled after the uprisings of the Arab Spring. The government has been able to buy off the unrest, using Algeria’s vast oil and gas wealth that included “big salary increases for civil servants, raised subsidies on basic foodstuffs, and a lifting of the state of emergency dating back to the civil war.” A new “day of rage” was called for recently in Algeria, but when the time came, no one showed up.
There are small protests nearly everyday in Algeria over economic and social issues, but many Algerians fear the chaos and bloodshed happening in other countries with popular uprisings. Algeria is fresh off a civil war that has left hundreds of thousands dead and deep divisions in society. Yet, Sherif Arbi, a pro-democracy activist, noted that the failed “day of rage” shows that ”the country is on the edge of an explosion, the regime has only held on by spending billions, but for how long? This is just a postponement.” John Entelis, of Fordham University, said “Algerians are enormously unhappy with their current situation for a whole slew of reasons. The state has an economic capacity to buy them off, at least for a short term… But a status quo is just going to make the situation worse in the medium and long term.”