Algeria and Its Islamists
A presidential succession fraught with peril.
Aug 19, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 46 • By OLIVIER GUITTA
The Chinese “invasion” has come at a cost. Anti-Chinese sentiment is common, and riots have targeted Chinese nationals; in 2009, dozens were injured and Chinese shops were looted in Algiers. In addition, some Algerians see China as anti-Muslim because of its harsh treatment of its Muslim Uighur community; Islamist parties have lodged protests with the Chinese embassy. Even Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the main terror outfit in the region, has warned China about potential attacks on its interests and citizens. Already in 2009, AQIM ambushed a convoy of Chinese workers being escorted to a job site 100 miles southeast of Algiers, and at least 24 police officers and one civilian were killed.
For the time being, Beijing has asked Algerian authorities to protect its nationals from both terrorism and rioting. But especially if Islamist influence continues to grow, it would be surprising if China did not also increase its own ability to project force in the region in the interests of its citizens and investments. That too is a development the West should be watching.
Olivier Guitta is the director of research at the Henry Jackson Society, a foreign affairs think tank in London. Hugo Brennan assisted in the research for this article.
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