Ambush in Algeria

Violence seems to be on the increase in Algeria again. Reuters reports that at least 14 soldiers were killed in an ambush on Wednesday. (Other reports give a death toll ranging from 11 to 20).

"The past two months have seen an upsurge in the violence," Reuters says. "Insurgents killed 18 paramilitary police officers and one civilian, according to officials, in an ambush in the east of Algeria in June. That was the deadliest attack in nearly a year."

Wednesday’s attack occurred in the Tipaza province in the west of the country – which may point to an expansion of insurgent activity. “Most of the violence has been concentrated in a region to the east of the capital, with the western part of the country relatively unscathed,” Reuters explains.

This also comes at a time when Algeria has been trying to re-establish itself as a player on the world’s diplomatic stage. 
The Moor Next Door blog comments:

No doubt the Algeria of 2009 has more credibility and more influence internationally than did the Algeria of 1999 [and] this is surely due to the good wits of president Bouteflika, or at least those very close to him. What remains to be seen is if Bouteflika’s domestic solution to the dark decade will be able to sustain the international designs he’s set up for the country. 

All the progress Algerian diplomacy has made over the last nine years was predicated on the re-establishment of order inside the country and at least the impression of a process of reconciliation between the state and its people. 

Without any real reconciliation between the people and the state, or at least certain powerful cliques therein, the possibility for open tensions between the youth and the authorities in the medium term remains quite powerful. While Bouteflika has put an end to broad macro-economic ills and macro-political disputes, he has not resolved any of the fundamental sticking points that make so many Algerians so restive.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 31 July 2009.