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Algeria

Algeria, An Authoritarian Regime Without A Leader

Grave doubts about the health and capacity of longtime President Bouteflika are pulling Algeria apart at the seams. Who's in charge? What happens next in this pivotal North African country?

Police in Algiers earlier this month marching in protest.
Police in Algiers earlier this month marching in protest.
Florence Beaugé

ALGIERS — The surroundings of El Mouradia, the Algerian presidential palace, are calm once again. The protesting police officers had cleared out in the afternoon of Oct. 16, in exchange for wage hikes and other negotiated benefits. But such an event was unprecedented in Algeria, and will leave scars.

Over a 24-hour period, several hundred police personnel had gathered outside the presidential palace, which they had reached without much difficulty, after having encircled the government’s headquarters. For Algeria, the scenes were almost unreal. To the shouts of "Harmel, get out!" the demonstrating officers demanded the resignation of the police chief, and sang the Algerian national anthem.

"We’re sick of the humiliation," they explained to reporters and astounded passersby. "We can't stand the pain anymore."

But being Algeria, the question arises: Was this a genuine protest movement or some kind of manipulation? Here where "conspiracy" theories are legion, the first hypothesis is favored, but not unanimous. The fact that the revolt started in the southern town of Ghardaia is no coincidence, after battles there between the Arab and the Berber communities have been occupying several thousands of policemen for 10 months.

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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