Random highlights from the Algerian media - because English speakers need to follow Algeria news too

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Lebanon at peace - the Security Council says so, so it must be true (?)

Today, Algerian newspapers react to the not quite ceasefire in Lebanon. El Khabar's cartoonist (left) sees a simple message: "Now that the Arab regimes have revealed their loyalty to Israel... The future is for the Arab resistance." (The bin is labelled "Dustbin of History".) The paper's headline has "Olmert government sends 30,000 troops into southern Lebanon: 51 Israeli soldiers killed and 48 injured in fierce combat with Hezbollah, helicopter downed and several Merkava tanks destroyed."

Ech Chourouk go for "Ech Chourouk visits Nasrallah's house: The Israeli spy planes were above us... 'Come on guys, get inside, get inside, there's planes in the sky...' We hid under a tree for a little, because the Emka spy planes are blind - they don't see in the shade". The front-page editorial next to it is entitled "The war is not over!"

El Watan has "Large-scale Israeli offensive in southern Lebanon: The massacre continues. Despite the unanimous Security Council call for a ceasefire Friday night, Israel continues its aggression, spreading its ground offensive to the maximum. Putting Olmert's Wednesday decision into effect, the Israeli command have effectively tripled the number of Israeli soldiers on Lebanese soil...

Liberte goes for "The Lebanon war finished at 6 this evening with 1,145 deaths. Near-East: Until next time... The sixth Arab-Israeli war finished in confusion, with both camps claiming victory. Neither American strategic plans nor Israeli military domination prevailed."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

EU fears Algerian-Russian gas alliance

And on the subject of oil and gas... Bear in mind: "40% of EU gas imports originate from Russia (30% Algeria, 25% Norway)". The Gazprom-Sonatrach deal, along with continued turmoil in the Middle East raising prices, could help keep Algeria's foreign currency revenues high for years to come.

Gulf Times, Stratfor.

PS: It seems Algeria has something else to offer in the deal: LNG technology.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Algeria's oil and gas

Some handy maps of Algeria's main source of revenue:
* Where Algeria's petrochemical deposits are;
* Where the pipelines run;
* and, perhaps most interestingly, which companies are involved.

For the top buyers of Algeria's oil and gas as of 2004 (other products make up only about 2.3% of Algeria's exports, so they're negligible in this), see this table: USA, then Italy, France, Spain, then the Netherlands and Canada. (If you added the EU up, of course, it would be significantly ahead of the US.)

And if you were wondering who the heck all those companies are, I checked where they're based:

AGIP - Italy
ALEPCO - Libya + Algeria
Amerada Hess - US
Anadarko - US
BHP - Australia & UK
CNPC - China
FCP - Canada
GDF - France
Gulf Keystone - independent (UK, UAE, US, Kuwait)
Medex - France
Petrocanada - Canada
Petronas - Malaysia
PIDC - Pakistan
Repsol YPF - Spain & Argentina
Rosneft - Russia
Statoil - Norway
Total - France
Numhyd - Tunisia + Algeria

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Constitution change; Cheb Khaled calls for jihad; bombs defused; illegal immigrants saved

Constitutional amendment updates: A month after Bouteflika announced his plans to revise the constitution, Boualem Bessaieh, the president of the Constitutional Council, has been put by Bouteflika in charge of the Constitution Revision Commission. He was described by Liberte's source as "a faithful old friend of the President of the Republic in whom he places unreserved confidence."

Ech Chourouk's headline: 'Nasrallah shames Arab rulers' connivance: "Be men, if only for a day". Israel bombs north of Beirut and attacks Christian areas.' Two editorials are devoted to praising Chavez and attacking the Saudis, respectively. Keep this up much longer, and I'm gonna start suspecting them of having turned socialist :) A rather sardonic brief article announces that Cheb Khaled, the "King of Rai", has urged "that the road should be opened for youths to go to Lebanon and engage in jihad against the Israeli aggression".

Bomb in Bordj-el-Bahri injures two policemen; two other bombs defused in Boumerdes.

Coast guard in Arzew save 11 illegal immigrants from death when the overcrowded fishing boat they were attempting to reach to Spain in sank.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

More Algerian headlines: Lebanon, Qaddafi, Iran

Lebanon is still on the front page of all the main Algerian newspapers, obviously:
  • El Khabar speaks to the Lebanese Red Cross: Lebanon experiencing unparalleled humanitarian disaster
  • Ech Chourouk: The resistance respond to Israeli allegation with 300 rockets, and are fighting on five fronts
  • El Watan: Renewal of Hezbollah attacks: Rockets rain on Israel
  • Liberte: Israeli intelligence involved in the war: When Mossad hunts Hezbollah.

In other news, Liberte report that Qaddafi was behind the recent Tuareg rebellion in Mali, as part of some kind of strategy to promote a "Great Saharan" Tuareg state, and took advantage of the death of Hadj Akhamokh and subsequent succession disputes to do so. I seem to remember similar reports a while back from Ech Chourouk, but who knows.

El Watan reports the establishment of the Iranian Trade Center in Algiers (Cheraga).


Nothing to do with Algeria, but I just noticed that Tony Blair appears to live in a different universe than the rest of us:
...there are many reasons for long-term optimism. Across the Middle East, there is a process of modernisation as well as reaction. It is unnoticed but it is there: in the UAE, in Bahrain, in Kuwait, in Qatar. In Egypt, there is debate about the speed of change but not about its direction [sic!.] In Libya and Algeria, there is both greater stability and a gradual but significant opening up.

Ali Belhadj briefly rearrested

Ali Belhadj got arrested for demonstrating in front of the American Embassy with banners saying "Oh rulers of the Arabs, close the embassies of Zionist terrorism" and "Stop the flow of oil to Bush's bloodthirsty government, and kick the petrol companies out of the land of the 1.5 million martyrs." He allegedly received a sympathetic reception from the police, who agreed with him on the Lebanon issue (his opinions are scarcely controversial on this point, after all!) but were legally required to prevent unauthorised demonstrations. He was released later that day, and placed under close security observation. Ashara Al Awsat, Angry Arab.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Lakhdar Brahimi and Yusuf Qaradawi

The Moor Next Door, who I'm fairly sure is this blog's only reader (are there any others?), has expressed interest in Lakhdar Brahimi, so here's some of what he has to say on the Lebanon crisis:

Lakdar Brahimi to El Khabar: Hezbollah has earned the honor of the resistance to the occupation.

Why, in your opinion, has the UN Security Council delayed meeting on the explosive situation in Lebanon, and remained incapable of reaching a ceasefire? I think the reason has become well-known: the active world powers - specifically, the US and, to a lesser extent, Britain - do not want an immediate cease-fire in Lebanon to be reached.

This means that Israel is waging war with US authorization... I don't think it's precisely like that, but Washington does not hide its bias towards Israel and has expressed that frankly more than once; for this reason, the Americans look at the Middle East's problems in a narrow Israeli perspective.

[...]Do they think that sending international forces into Lebanon is a guarantee for healing the crisis, given that Israel has targeted UN forces before? The US talks of the need to go to the roots of the crisis, not its results or its surface. I think this idea is very reasonable, and right on - but what are the roots of the problem? Yesterday the British PM said, in a joint conference with the American President, that the immediate cause of the current crisis might be the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers, and he also recognised that the root of the problem is Palestine. So if the point of his words was to solve the roots of the problems of the Middle East, or concern for the lost rights of the Palestinian people, then we welcome this development totally. But the international forces that they speak of, the UN secretary general already asked for them in Gaza a while ago, and his request found no echo...

There are those who observe that Israel is currently seeking the implementation of UN Resolution 1559. Israel has no right nor duty to implement resolution 1559, for it is not among the states that respect UN resolutions. Moreover, the resolution has two halves, one demanding that Syria leave Lebanon - which has happened - though I, as a person who had a small role in the Taif Agreement, express my regret that the Syrians did not implement the agreement by their own free will many years ago. But the second half relates to assisting the Lebanese state to spread its sovereignty over all Lebanese land, which plainly says that the militias and in particular Hezbollah cannot continue to bear arms and form a state within a state. This will not compromise its position and role, for it is a respected political party with wide representation, and a member of the Lebanese government. Furthermore, it must be ensured that the state be the only force with the right to use weapons. The Lebanese sides have begun engaging with the issue, and it is to be hoped that they will continue along this road.

[...]If you were the UN Secretary-General, what solutions would you suggest to the two warring sides? First thing would be a ceasefire, which is a widespread idea at the moment, then an exchange of prisoners - there are Lebanese imprisoned by Israel for 25 years, but their plight does not attract the attention of the West, which sheds tears for Israeli captives. Third, that Israel should leave the Shebaa Farms, and fourth, in my view, we must turn to the mother of all these problems, Palestine, for this issue poisons the atmosphere of the region, and if we don't find a solution for it it will lead to worse problems in the future in other countries of the region. And on the occasion of what is currently going on in Iraq, I would like to address a few words to Arabs and Muslims: Can we dream that the popular solidarity we witness in the Lebanese crisis will continue, and shut the door in the face of the sectarian division (fitna) lit between Sunni and Shia in Iraq, for it is division that has become the source of fighting and massacres more than resistance against the occupation, and it is necessary to contain the disaster that we witness in Iraq so that it does not spread beyond its borders and spread throughout areas with Sunnis and Shias.

In other news, El-Khabar noted that Qaradawi confirms that supporting Hezbollah is the duty of every Muslim", rejecting the fatwa of the Saudi shaykh Bin Jibreen who decided that it was forbidden to support Hezbollah because they were Shia (yes, precisely and only because they were Shia.)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

History repeats itself: Israel attacks UN observers in Lebanon

Nothing to do with Algeria, but, if you were surprised by Israel's recent attack on UN observers in Lebanon, it has its precedents:
The UN quickly discovered [in 1980] that the Israelis were physically present at Haddad's artillery positions during bombardments, presumably to help the militiamen with their coordinates. Cynicism replaced pride. 'I got a call from an Israeli officer over the radio,' a Dutch officer in Haris told me. 'He wanted to warn me that the Christians were likely to fire in our direction. He wanted me to know that it wouldn't be Israel's fault, because they were trying to warn us. The Israeli came on the radio, made his excuses and shouted: "The Christians are going to fire in about six seconds - five - four - three - two - one." And a couple of seconds later, shells started landing behind the United Nations lines. How was he so accurate? He wanted me to know he was next to the artillery battery. He was doing the shooting.' (Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War, Oxford University Press 1990, p. 151).

Oh, and obviously more recently the Qana Massacre.