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Algeria

This Happened

This Happened — November 1: A War Begins That Would Change Two Nations

Starting in 1954, the Algerian War was fought between France and the Algerian National Liberation Front, and ultimately led to Algeria winning its independence in 1962, ending more than a century of French colonial rule.

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Ukraine War, North African Food Shortages And Whiff Of A New Arab Spring

Rising tensions in wheat productions, explosion of oil prices, fear of the unknown, could the Ukraine war lead to a popular Arab uprising similar to the one in 2011?

TUNIS — History tells us that in 2010-2011 the rise in prices for raw materials, especially wheat, was one of the main causes of the uprisings that spread across the Arab world.

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Today, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is putting many of the world's economies dependent on wheat imports to the test, notably in North Africa. This prompts the question: Could there be a second “Arab Spring?”

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An Epic Mission, Preserving The Ancient Books Of Timbuktu

Mali's "mysterious city" welcomes a new class of students trained in looking after ancient books. From conservation to digitization of these works, a colossal task awaits them to preserve this endangered heritage and the secrets they contain.

TIMBUKTU — In the workroom of the Ahmed-Baba Institute of Higher Studies and Islamic Research, time seems to have slowed down. As the dust and the sound of brushes on paper float by, six students hold in their hands one of the most precious heritages of the region.

Ceremoniously, they repeat the same gestures: lifting the pages, one by one, with the tip of a thin wooden spatula, then, with the flat of the brush, ridding the inks and the centuries-old papers of dust.

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The "Potato Crisis" At The Heart Of Algeria's Imploding Economy

Prices have tripled on the staple product, as farmers and the government blame each other while ordinary Algerians struggle to put food on the table. It's yet another crisis between economics and politics in the troubled North African nation.

Algeria is facing a multifaceted crisis, one of the most serious since the North African country gained independence in 1962. Boiling social and economic unrest has combined with continuing political demands that began with the Hirak uprising of 2019 that called for the end to the decades-long rule of Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

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Society
Frédéric Bobin

Finding Freedom In The Pages Of An Algerian Bookstore

The Librairie du Tiers monde, which has functioned as an important intellectual spot in Algeria since its founding in 1964, continues to have an open and critical outlook on the country, even at a time when power represses dissidents.

ALGIERS — There are books prominently piled on the tables: Aux Sources du Hirak; Libertés, Dignité, Algérianité, Avant et Pendant le Hirak, Hirak, Enjeux Politiques et Dynamiques Sociales … The Hirak, an Algerian "anti-system" movement that began in February 2019, may be suppressed on the streets, but it continues to be written and read about, making its way to the bookshop through cracks in the authoritarian regimes.

After Algerian voters massively rejected the June 12 legislative vote — an election that many believe was steered by the government —, the demand for freedom has gone from the voting booths to the bookstores. One of them is always full to the brim: La Librairie du Tiers Monde (The Third World Bookstore), and ranks among the most important places in Algiers's intellectual life.

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Algeria
Safia Ayache

In Algeria, Ramadan Comes With COVID And Water Shortages

With water rationing, soaring food prices and an economic crisis brought on by COVID-19, Algerians begin the month of fasting in difficult conditions.

ALGIERS — "We have a president who talks to us about oil, meat and Semolina," says Hafid. Speaking from his farm in eastern Algeria, the comments refer to an interview given by Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, a week before the start of Ramadan on April 13. The Head of State assured that food products would be available, but also warned against speculators, accused in recent weeks of forcing the price of certain basic products — including oil — to soar.

The words apparently have not reassured ordinary Algerians, as the holy month of prayer, fasting and family gatherings begins. "It is not at the time of Ramadan that I will restrict myself," says Hafid, citing the additional expenses for the various dishes — dates, fermented milk, dried fruit, cheese — that will garnish the family table to break the daily fast. "Fortunately I have my sheep, so I will not have to buy imported meat."

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Algeria
Bertrand Hauger

Algerian Farmer Digs For Water, Strikes Oil

While drilling deep for water last week in his field near Ouled Rahmoune, in northeastern Algeria, a farmer was surprised to see a liquid pouring from the pipes of a very different consistency, smell, color — and worth! Oil.

What makes the discovery all the more unusual is that Algeria's most important known deposits of black gold are located in the south of the country, as ObservAlgérie writes.

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Algeria
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Algeria, Hong Kong, India: COVID-19 Halts Protest Movements

A "pause sanitaire" is the phrase El Watan, the French-language Algerian daily, used. Such "health pauses' have been happening among popular protest groups in a number of countries, either imposed by the government or self-imposed by the demonstrators in the face of the threat of spreading coronavirus in the close proximity of street protests.

  • Algeria: Recently inaugurated President Abdelmadjid Tebboune banned street protests as of last week, bringing to an end regular mass anti-government demonstrations that began in mid-February last year after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced he would seek a fifth term in office. But few are criticizing the move: "It does not mark an abdication of the movement," El Watan"s editorial board wrote. "Just the opposite, it is the sign of true lucidity...facing the urgent question of saving thousands of lives."

  • Hong Kong: COVID-19 has in the last two months put a damper on the anti-government protests that defined 2019. But as the South China Morning Post reports, the outbreak has fueled further resentment against authorities that now fear even more violent clashes might occur as the spread of the virus dwindles.

  • Chile: The 90-day state of emergency announced by President Sebastian Pinera last week coincided with the five-month anniversary of nationwide mass protests against structural inequality. El Tiempo reports that the move was seen by many as a way of curbing the protests that had been escalating throughout March, especially as the government simultaneously postponed a referendum on a new constitution scheduled for April 26.

  • India: The government last week banned gatherings of more than 50 people, putting a stop to the long-running protest against a controversial law that bars Muslim refugees from citizenship. More bans have been imposed in other cities since, including south Mumbai, where a dispersing protester told the The Times of India: "We may have differences with the government ... but we are with the government in the fight against COVID-19."

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LE POINT
Natalie Malek

Battle Of The Ages In Algeria

-Analysis-

It's a striking contrast in both age and public exposure. Defying a sometimes repressive police force, a bold youth-led Algerian street protest movement has risen up against the North African country's aging and largely invisible leader.

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Algeria
Giacomo Tognini

Algeria Cocaine Bust Reveals New Global Hub In Narcotics Network

Authorities seized 701 kilograms of cocaine on a ship in the port of Oran. The record haul points to a growing network linking South America to Europe via Algeria.

ORAN — On May 29th, Algerian authorities discovered 701 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside a meat container on a merchant ship in the port of Oran. The bust was one of the largest operations in Algerian history, leading to a police investigation that has identified Kamel Chikhi, an influential Algiers real estate mogul, as the ringleader of a drug trafficking network that distributes cocaine from Brazil to Spain by way of the ports on Algeria"s long Mediterranean coastline.

According to Algiers-based daily El Watan, drug traffickers in Algeria have a long history of using their political connections to evade arrest and expand their operations. Several powerful criminals — including Ahmed Yousfi Saïd "the emigrant" and Ahmed Zendjabil, aka "the Pablo Escobar of Oran" — dominated the drug trade in the 1990s and 2000s, acting with impunity thanks to their notable ties to the country's political elites.

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Algeria
Giacomo Tognini

Border Row Is Bad News For Moroccan Workers In Algeria

An estimated 15,000 undocumented Moroccans work in construction sites, bakeries, and in skilled trades across neighboring Algeria.

MAGHNIA — Already tense relations between Algeria and Morocco have taken a sharp turn for the worse of late, and pose a serious risk to the livelihoods of an estimated 15,000 undocumented Moroccan citizens who work for private and public companies across Algeria, the Algiers-based daily El Watanreports.

The shared border between the two North African nations has been closed since 1994. Recently, though, Algerian authorities added to the animosity by digging 7-meter-deep trenches along their side. In a tit-for-tat escalation, their Moroccan counterparts responded by erecting a two-and-a-half-meter tall fence on their side.

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Algeria
Giacomo Tognini

A New Migrant Gateway On Algeria’s Western Border

Algerian authorities have been accused of harsh treatment of asylum seekers.

MAGHNIA — The banks of the Wadi Jorgi river valley in western Algeria are littered with the remains of shacks built from branches, plastic, and sheet metal. The sprawling informal camp is home to hundreds of migrants from across Africa who are part of a growing wave of people crossing into Algeria from the nearby Moroccan border.

This latest twist in the African migrant itinerary was described in a recent reportage by the Algiers-based daily El Watan . Once the migrants arrive in the border town of Maghnia, some hope to take the "Algerian" route across the Mediterranean into Europe or instead detour through Algeria's eastern neighbor, Libya. Many instead choose to settle in Algeria but remain undocumented workers in the eyes of Algerian authorities.

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