September 10, 2019

ALGERIA’S SPRING AND SUMMER CONTINUES INTO FALL: Below the radar protests have continued for six months.

A major factor in the persistence of these protests is the fact that 70 percent of the Algerian unemployed are job-seekers in their late teens and 20s. Many have never been able to get a job. The unemployment rate is about 15 percent, up from the 12 percent it was stuck at for several years. Corruption and mismanagement of the former government was seen as a major reason for the high unemployment, especially among the younger Algerians. Another incitement is how the interim government is using its control over mass media to criticize the protestors at every opportunity.

And a systemic weakness:

The government has a way to measure how long it can avoid making decisive and effective changes in the economy and avoid a popular uprising. It all depends on how long the foreign currency reserves last. They dipped below $100 billion at the end of 2017 and are headed for $64 billion at the end of 2019 and $47 billion by the end of 2020. The government inability to reform (suppress corruption) the economy quickly enough to reduce vulnerability to low oil prices becomes obvious when the foreign reserve situation is reported, as they must be to placate foreign exporters and lenders. Foreign exchange reserves, essential to pay for imports, keep declining because 70 percent of what Algerians consume is imported.

And this:

The interim government has ordered that troops and police avoid violence against the demonstrators at all costs. Army leaders know that shooting of protestors risks another civil war.

So Algeria is setting a good example for Beijing — or let’s hope so. One other point: the Algerian military is about to destroy the last Islamic State camps in the mountains along the Algerian-Tunisian border.

This podcast, recorded three weeks ago, provides in-depth background.

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