The twin attacks on Algiers on 11 December that left nearly 70 people dead have rekindled fears of a return to the dark days of the 1990s when the Algerian economy was virtually shut down by civil war.
There is no question that the risk of terrorism in Algeria has increased in 2007. The latest atrocities take to 15 the number of terrorist bombings in the country since January, when the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat rebranded itself as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. And with every attack, investor confidence is damaged and Algeria’s attempts to rebuild its economy are knocked.
Many companies are reviewing their operations in the country and in October French nationals working for French giant Michelin were repatriated as a result of security concerns. The latest attack will fuel such concerns.
But Al-Qaeda is unlikely to succeed in its attempts to foment a mass Islamist uprising aimed at toppling the state.
As French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit in early December demonstrates, Algeria’s political and economic landscape has changed since the early 1990s.
High oil prices and global energy concerns have presented the gas-rich state with a strong platform for economic and political reform.
The global war on terror provides international support for the Algerian military to crack down on militants. The result is that the balance of power today rests with the government.