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The Jihadist Peril Lurking in Algeria's Protests

MIN READMar 12, 2019 | 09:00 GMT

Algerian protesters demonstrate in the capital Algiers against ailing President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term on March 8, 2019. Islamists are eager to exploit Algeria's growing instability.

(RYAD KRAMDI/AFP/Getty Images)

No stranger to civil conflict, Algeria is once again experiencing significant political unrest. Protests in the country are gathering steam, indicating deep and widespread discontent with the power structure that has helped Algerian President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika remain in power even though the octogenarian suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013. The trigger for the most recent protests that erupted on Feb. 22 was the announcement that Bouteflika -- who is wheelchair-bound and unable to speak -- would stand for a fifth term in presidential elections on April 18. On March 11, however, he announced that he was withdrawing from the election, which authorities will delay until a national conference sets a date for a new election. In climbing down, Bouteflika is clearly hoping to defuse the current protests. But until the particulars are known, it is difficult to determine if he will succeed. The protests are not only focused on...

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