Algeria’s regime: out on a limb that looks set to fall

Brian Whitaker writes:

With three out of five countries now under new management along the north African coast, the spotlight is turning towards the remaining two: Algeria and Morocco.

In Morocco, where a new constitution was approved in July, the king’s promises of reform may succeed in staving off a mass revolt – at least for the time being. Morocco also recognised the national transitional council (NTC) in Libya with deft timing a week ago, declaring its support for “the legitimate aspirations of the brotherly Libyan people”.

That leaves Algeria out on a limb, increasingly identified with the forces of counter-revolution. Not only has it so far failed to recognise the Libyan NTC, but it is now openly providing refuge for members of the Gaddafi family.

Welcoming the Gaddafis, according to Algeria’s ambassador at the UN, was nothing more than a humanitarian gesture, in line with the traditions of desert hospitality – but we don’t have to look very far to see the politics behind it.

What happened to the Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan regimes could easily have been the fate of the Algerian regime, too. In January, as the Tunisian uprising gathered pace, Algeria also experienced widespread disturbances – and for very similar reasons. Regular protests were still continuing on a smaller scale at the end of March.

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