Why Isn’t Algeria Exporting Jihad—Yet?

As Muslims from across the globe flock to Syria and Iraq to join Islamic State, very few Algerians have tried to join the fight. Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck attributes this to the prevalence of a quietist school of Islamic fundamentalism, the country’s large, highly coordinated, and sometimes draconian security forces, and the traumatic effect of recent Algerian history:

A key reason for the seemingly low appeal of jihadism among Algerians is the experience of the country’s civil war, which raged throughout the 1990s. That period, known as the “black decade”—during which 150,000 people died and 7,000 disappeared—resulted in a mass trauma that is still evident in Algerians’ yearning for order and stability, which the authorities fuel in order to justify their tough security stance. . . .

But Ghanem-Yazbeck also cautions that things might change:

[E]conomic, social, and political problems persist in Algeria. . . . On the political front, there has been a lack, if not a complete absence, of generational renewal, allowing the same apparatchiks to remain in power since even before Algeria’s independence in 1962. Their authoritarianism . . . prevented the emergence of a real opposition and led to a civil society that is plagued by anomie.

Algeria’s socioeconomic problems include high unemployment, . . . a housing shortage, . . . and abysmal wage levels and living conditions, which prompted over 9,000 riots in 2010. All this might lead the youth toward jihadist movements as a means to express their resentment and retaliation. And, with Algeria’s domestic jihadist scene still active, there is already a framework in place to host disaffected young people.

Read more at Carnegie Middle East Center

More about: Algeria, Islamic State, Islamism, Jihad, Politics & Current Affairs

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy