Tag Archives: Algeria

Can Algerian Energy Buck Downward Trend With EU Help?

By Christopher Coats, Contributor

Even before North Africa’s recent political earthquake, Algeria’s vital energy sector was on the rocks. Despite substantial hydrocarbon reserves, the country’s production had steadily declined in recent years due to dwindling interest from foreign firms. A mix of industry instability, unfavorable revenue agreements and institutional corruption had made it difficult to justify the risks of operating in the country. Making matters worse, European demand for natural gas was declining with the financial crisis and U.S. purchases were wavering amid the North American shale boom. By the time political movements ousted long-standing leaders in neighboring Libya and Tunisia, putting pressure on the country’s leadership, Algeria was already fighting a dangerous narrative of industry decline. For a country so completely dependent on energy revenue and exports for every level of government spending, this wasn’t just bad news – it was destabilizing. While Algeria largely avoided the kind of violence and instability that forced leadership changes in Tripoli, Tunis and Cairo, their post-Arab Spring experience has not been without challenges. In addition to domestic pressure for labor and political reforms, mostly in the form of targeted protests, the country’s energy industry has faced pressure from outside its own borders. In January, militants from Mali crossed the border and targeted a BP and Statoil gas facility near the Libyan border. Touted as a response to Algeria’s support for European action against a Mali-based separatist movement in the north of the county, the raid and ensuing government response left scores dead, including dozens of foreign workers. Coupled with concerns about the country’s energy industry, including wide-spread corruption allegations at state firm Sonatrach, the raid chipped away at the confidence in Algeria’s already beleaguered energy sector. So, it would seem that recent news of a fresh agreement with the EU that, “establishes a framework for co-operation, which covers… oil and gas, renewable energy, energy efficiency, legal and regulatory reform, progressive energy markets, infrastructure development and technology transfer”, could not come at a better time. For Algeria, the new agreement means a vote of confidence from one of its largest customers, despite declining gas demand that is not expected to return for another two to three years. For Europe, it means a further step towards stabilizing a resource line from North Africa and meeting long-term goals of reducing dependence on less favorable resources, most notably Russia. Further, by casting Algerian reserves as “a priority area” for Europe’s strategic energy interests and security, it helps pave the way for EU infrastructure funding that has become increasingly elusive in recent months. Five years in the making, the new agreement is welcome news for both sides of the Mediterranean. Still, details of the new partnership remain vague and it is unclear whether EU support will mean more enthusiasm from European firms that have expressed concern about operating in Algerian in recent years. Six months on from the gas facility attack, both BP and Statoil have resisted sending foreign workers back to the project site. Earlier calls for policy reforms and …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Forbes Latest

Al-Qaida-linked leader charged in Algeria attack

Terrorism charges were unsealed Friday in New York against a purported al-Qaida-linked leader in Africa accused of leading a January attack at a gas plant in Algeria that killed more than 35 hostages, including three Americans.

The charges against Mokhtar Belmokhtar were announced by federal law enforcement officials in Manhattan. They include conspiring to support al-Qaida, use a weapon of mass destruction, discharge a firearm and use and carry an explosive. Additional charges of conspiring to take hostages and discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence carry a maximum penalty of death.

Authorities also said a $5 million reward was being offered for information leading to the arrest of Belmokhtar, who’s also been known as “the one-eyed sheik” since he lost an eye in combat. Belmokhtar left al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African offshoot of the terrorist group, then formed his own spinoff.

He is accused of participating in a Jan. 16 attack on a Western-owned gas processing facility in a remote part of eastern Algeria near the border with Libya.

After a four-day standoff, the Algerian army moved in and killed 29 attackers and captured three others. At least 37 hostages, including one Algerian worker, died in the battle. Three Americans and scores of Algerian and foreign nationals were killed.

Belmokhtar “unleashed a reign of terror years ago, in furtherance of his self-proclaimed goal of waging bloody jihad against the West,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a release. “His efforts culminated in a five-day siege that left dozens dead.”

The court papers said Belmokhtar appeared in an online video the day after the siege ended, claiming responsibility for the attack on behalf of al-Qaida.

The charges “describe a fanatical jihadist leading an extremist vanguard of an extremist ideology,” said George Venizelos, head of the FBI’s New York office.

He added: “As alleged, he kidnapped diplomats, formed his own terrorist organization that pledged fealty to al-Qaida, and masterminded the murderous siege of a civilian plant in Algeria that resulted in the deaths of dozens of hostages, including three Americans.”

Belmokhtar was designated a foreign terrorist by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2003. Prosecutors said he was a key leader of al-Qaida’s efforts in North Africa starting in 2008 as he led attacks that resulted in the kidnapping …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox US News

Algeria president back home after care in France

The state news agency says Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has returned home after 80 days of treatment in France following a stroke.

The agency quoted a statement from the presidency Tuesday saying Bouteflika was home after a period of care and physical therapy.

The 76-year-old has not been seen in public since April 27, though there was a brief televised meeting with him, the prime minister and a top military official in Paris.

Although Algeria has confirmed Bouteflika had a stroke, questions have arisen about his ability to lead the country.

The presidency’s statement added that Bouteflika would continue his rest and rehabilitation in Algeria.

Bouteflika had widely been expected to fun for a fourth presidential term in elections in April 2014. Now, the contest may be wide open.

…read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Canadian freed after 18 months in Mauritanian jail

A Mauritanian official says a 24-year-old Canadian man was sentenced to 18 months in prison after being convicted of having ties to al-Qaida’s North African branch but he will be freed because he has already served his time.

Prosecutor Ahmed Ould Abdalla told the Associated Press late Sunday that the court decided to release Canadian national Aaron Yoon because he had already been imprisoned for the duration of his sentence. He was first arrested in December of 2011.

Yoon said he travelled to Mauritania to study the Quran. He reportedly travelled to the region with two other Canadians, who were later implicated in a separate terror attack on a BP-operated natural gas plant in southeastern Algeria earlier this year, which ended with the deaths of 37 hostages.

…read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Morocco eliminate Tunisia in African Nations Championship

African Nations Championship (CHAN) holders Tunisia were eliminated this weekend in the first qualifying round.

They drew 0-0 away to Morocco in the second leg, but fell 1-0 on aggregate after losing at home last Saturday.

Packed with stars from CAF title-winning clubs Esperance, Etoile Sahel, CS Sfaxien, Club Africain and CA Bizertin, Tunisia were expected to advance.

But a last-minute breakaway goal from striker Abdessamad Mbarki in Mediterranean resort Sousse proved decisive over two defence-dominated games.

Tunisia won the second edition of the tournament for home-based footballers with a 3-0 drubbing of Angola in Sudan two years ago.

But coach Nabil Maaloul chose only goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha from the title-winning squad to confront the Moroccans.

The 16-nation 2014 tournament is scheduled for January 11-February 1 in South Africa and Morocco will appear at the finals for the first time.

South Africa qualify automatically as hosts and Ghana and Libya have secured places after opponents Benin and Algeria withdrew.

Uganda are set to join them after building a 1-0 away advantage over Tanzania in an east Africa derby.

Midfielder Brian Majwega was the architect of the 48th-minute winner, setting up defender Denis Iguma to fire across goalkeeper Juma Kaseja into the net.

Tanzania had more possession in the eagerly anticipated Dar es Salaam showdown, but were let down by woeful finishing.

Mrisho Ngasa was repeatedly off target with long-range shots and striker John Bocco also disappointed when offered scoring opportunities.

It was the third consecutive victory for Serb coach Milutin Sredojevic since succeeding sacked Scot Bobby Williamson as Uganda coach last month.

He guided the ‘Cranes’ to World Cup qualifying wins over Liberia and Angola, and a victory over Senegal during September would take them to the play-offs.

However, Sredojevic cautioned against premature celebrations, especially given the Ugandan habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

“By winning the first leg we have got only the passports for South Africa and now we need to get the visas by winning the return match,” he told reporters.

Ethiopia host Rwanda later on Sunday in the remaining fixture this weekend with second-leg fixtures scheduled for late July.

…read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

"Our best days are ahead of us" say three-quarters of Arab youth in 5th annual ASDA'A Burson-Marstel

By Business Wirevia The Motley Fool

Filed under:

“Our best days are ahead of us” say three-quarters of Arab youth in 5 th annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey

  • Arab youth have a greater sense of national identity after the Arab Spring, with 87% saying they are “more proud to be an Arab”
  • Being paid a fair wage and home ownership remain their highest priorities, and rising living costs their top concern
  • UAE continues to be seen as a model nation, while France, Germany and China are regarded most favourably among countries outside MENA

DUBAI, UAE–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Representing a resounding vote of confidence in the Middle East and North Africa’s future outlook, three-quarters of Arab youth, the region’s largest demographic, say their best days are ahead of them in the fifth annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, released today. An overwhelming 74% of all Arab youth surveyed in 15 countries across MENA agree with the statement: “Our best days are ahead of us”.

A ground-breaking initiative of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, the leading public relations consultancy in MENA, the Arab Youth Survey is aimed at providing reliable data and insights into the attitudes and aspirations of the region’s 200 million-strong youth population, informing policy- and decision-making of both government and the private sector.

ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller selected international polling firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) to complete 3,000 face-to-face interviews with exclusively Arab national men and women aged 18-24 in the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain), Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, and in three new countries added this year: Morocco, Algeria and Yemen. The survey was conducted between December 2012 and January 2013.

In each of the 15 countries surveyed, a clear majority are optimistic about the future, with a nearly equal percentage of youth in the Gulf and non-Gulf states (76% and 72%, respectively) saying “our best days are ahead of us”. Likewise, more than half (58%) believe their country is “heading in the right direction” considering the last 12 months, while 55% say their national economy is also heading in the right direction.

In …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Algeria's southern unemployed demand oil jobs

Protests by the unemployed in southern Algeria are raising the specter of rising unrest in the country’s sensitive oil regions, and are increasingly attracting the attention of al-Qaida.

Algeria‘s vast, sparsely populated Sahara only holds 10 percent of the country’s population but it is home to this North African country’s enormous oil and gas reserves — the basis of the entire economy and the source of the government‘s power. Those who live there claim they aren’t benefiting from that wealth, and can’t get jobs with the oil companies.

Now al-Qaida has praised the protesters, raising the possibility that it is seeking support among the disaffected groups. The government is rushing to address the protesters’ demands, but hasn’t yet convinced them that it’s serious.

Some 10,000 people — an enormous number for the lightly populated region — demonstrated on March 14 in Algeria‘s southern oil city of Ouargla, and thousands more later protested in another southern oil town, Laghouat.

“We want access to jobs in the oil companies, and not just the low-value ones like drivers and security guards; we want to be in the administration,” Tahar Belabes, the head of the National Committee for Defense of the Rights of the Unemployed, which organized the demonstration, said by telephone from Ouargla.

“We just want the same employment possibilities. It’s not normal that we live in the region where the oil and gas is located but don’t benefit from it.”

While youth unemployment is widespread in Algeria, and the rest of North Africa, the southerners say they are particularly discriminated against. There is also a widespread distrust of government officials, who are believed corrupt and skimming off the country’s vast oil receipts.

Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal acknowledged on March 16 that the demonstrators’ demands are legitimate and the government hurriedly announced a string of measures to address the perceived geographical bias in oil jobs. Oil companies will be obliged to give priority to job candidates from the south and recruitment must occur through registered employment agencies. The government announced that job-training centers would be set up to ready candidates for jobs with oil companies and hotels.

The demonstrations, however, have not stopped, and on Monday hundreds protested in the desert towns of Ghardaia and Oued Souf.

“The demonstrations are continuing because …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Today in History for 26th March 2013

Historical Events

1804 – Congress orders removal of Indians east of Mississippi to Louisiana
1824 – 1st performance of Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis”
1916 – Birdman of Alcatraz receives solitary
1936 – 200″ telescope lens shipped, Corning Glass Works, NY-Cal Tech
1942 – German offensive in North-Africa under Col-general Rommel
1943 – Elsie S Ott becomes 1st woman awarded US Air Force Medal

More Historical Events »

Famous Birthdays

603 – Pacal II ruler of the Maya polity of Palenque
1889 – Vaclav Kapral, composer
1909 – Chips Rafferty, Broken Hill Australia, actor (Desert Rats)
1923 – Elizabeth Jane Howard, British novelist (After Julius)
1929 – Edwin Turney, American businessman
1966 – Wesley Walls, NFL tight end (NO Saints)

More Famous Birthdays »

Famous Deaths

1793 – John Mudge, English physician (b. 1721)
1814 – Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, namesake of the guillotine (b. 1738)
1940 – Spiridon Louis, Greek runner, winner of the first modern Olympics marathon (b. 1873)
1990 – International Chrysis, Transvestite actor (QandA), dies of cancer at 38
1993 – Luis Falco, US choreographer (Fame, Angel Heart), dies at 50
1994 – Constantine Koukouchkine, Russ diplomat. murdered in Algeria at 41

More Famous Deaths »

…read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at HistoryOrb.Com – This Day in History

Canadian remains found at site of Algeria gas site

Police have confirmed that the remains of a Canadian, possibly one of the militants involved in the hostage taking at an Algerian gas plant in January, have been found.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which has sent officers to Algeria, said Monday the investigation is ongoing and that no further information will be given at this time.

Algeria‘s prime minister has said two Canadians of Arab descent were among the militants involved in the gas plant attack.

Al-Qaida-affiliated militants stormed the complex near the Libyan border on Jan. 16, taking hundreds of people hostage. The resulting fight with the Algerian army ended with at least 37 hostages and 29 militants killed. At least 36 of the dead hostages were foreigners.

…read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News