Algeria is a country on the Mediterranean Sea in the northwest part of Africa. Most of its inhabitants live near the coast with most of the country to the south being the Sahara desert. In 1954, the country started its rebellion against French colonial rule and by 1962 Algeria gained its independence but it cost a million lives in doing so and a million French colonists left the country. Algeria is a large oil and gas supplier.  
- Algeria's television and radio stations are state-controlled, but there is a lively private press which often criticises the authorities. There is no direct censorship, but laws set out prison terms and fines for insulting or defaming the president, MPs, judges and the army.
- Satellite TV is popular; stations based in France target viewers in Algeria and European channels are widely-watched. Algeria can be a dangerous environment for media workers; 57 journalists were murdered between 1993-97. Most of the killings were blamed on armed Islamist groups. Most internet users rely on dial-up connections and cybercafes for access.
Algeria/U.S. military relationship
The following discusses the military relationship between Algeria and the U.S.:
- U.S. Air Force General Charles Wald is the Deputy Commander for the European Command (EUCOM). According to Suburban Emergency Mangagement Project, Wald "expressed US interest in developing new initiatives with African countries, including Algeria. In a March 8, 2004 interview, for example, he gave two reasons for increasing US military presence in Africa."
- The first reason is that Al-Qaeda has shown an interest in North Africa.
- The second reason is that “having forward operating locations that we can stop in, refuel in, be assured that they’re there when we need to go long distances. As you know, the continent of Africa is huge. From Stuttgart, Germany, to Cape Town is 6,500 miles. That’s the same distance as from Stuttgart, Germany, to Los Angeles. That’s a long way.”
- When General Wald was asked whether the US plans on creating a military base in Algeria, he responded “We’re not building a base in Algeria. We are interested in being able to land at bases in Algeria with our aircraft, or train together, but we’re not interested in building a permanent base there, and I don’t think the Algerians are interested in us doing that either.”
- In 2005, joint military exercises occurred across Algeria and four other countries in north Africa, under the U.S. European Command. Asia Times said:
- the exercises - known as Operation Flintlock 2005 - included training in general marksmanship, orienteering and communications. More than 800 US troops took part. This was the first step in a broader five-year, US$500 million US plan to improve the capacities of African militaries in the context of Washington's "war against terror".
- In addition, the US has already secretly established a "huge military surveillance base" in the Algerian city of Tamanrassat, according to George al-Rassi, a retired Sorbonne professor and an expert in North African affairs, in an interview in June 2004 with the Lebanon-based Daily Star. Neither Algeria nor Washington acknowledges this base, although there were reports last year that discussions on its establishment were under way.
- In January 2002, Algeria began hosting US naval ships and the two countries have conducted joint anti-submarine warfare maneuvers. In December of the same year, Washington announced it would abandon its 10-year-old arms embargo on Algeria.
- Last year, then-US assistant secretary of state William Burns said the Bush administration had provided Algeria with $700,000 for the year for military equipment and training of security forces. The request for 2006 is $750,000 - an increase of more than 1,000% in four years.
- In 2007, Algeria again stated its refusal to allow U.S. military bases in the country. The Kuwait News Agency said:
- Algerian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Mourad Medelci was quoted by the Algerian radio as saying his country was open for cooperation with world in all fields including economy and culture, but rejects any foreign presences on its land.
- In 2007, the U.S. created the U.S. Africa Command for its military dealings or involvement in Africa. Magharebia reported in January 2008:
- The newly-established US Africa Command (AFRICOM) is focused on developing long-term relationships with African militaries and supporting human development programs, not on establishing a presence on the African continent, Mary Carlin Yates, Deputy to the Commander for Civil-Military Activities at AFRICOM, told a group of Algerian journalists, academics and officials on Tuesday (January 15th).
- In response to a question on the rumours of US plans to establish a military presence in Algeria, she denied the US ever asking to build bases in Algeria, or making any contacts with the Algerian authorities on that matter.
- Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President
Related SourceWatch articles
- Ronald E. Neumann - former US Ambassador
- Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights
- Arab American
- Arc of instability
- Mohamed Sahnoun
- Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Initiative
- U.S. military bases overseas
- Algeria, National Geographic, accessed January 2008.
- Country profile: Algeria, BBC, accessed January 2008.
- "Algeria Unveiled: The US Shows Interest", Suburban Emergency Mangagement Project, June 1, 2005.
- Pepe Escobar, "The Algerian connection", Asia Times, July 29, 2005.
- "Algeria renews rejection for building US bases on its territories", Kuwait News Agency, September 12, 2007.
- Said Jameh in Algiers contributed to this report, "AFRICOM to assist African countries, not establish military bases", Magharebia, January 16, 2008.
- Timeline: Algeria, BBC, accessed January 2008.
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