"Young people walk around their neighborhoods aimless and see
foreigners, particularly Asians, with jobs and money," a Western diplomatic
source said. "This fuels a lot of jealousy."
On Oct. 20, Algerian police fought rioters in the nation's capital, Middle East Newsline reported. The
battle pitted about 100 protesters, who threw firebombs and stones, against
400 anti-riot police. Reports said 27 people were injured, with one officer
Witnesses said the battle was fierce and the police force was unable to
clear a key road in Algiers. They said the police appeared unequipped to
handle the rioters, who hurled debris from a hilltop.
Algerian officials have acknowledged the threat of youth unrest. But
they said the threat was exacerbated by the Islamic opposition, including
those aligned with Al Qaida. At least 35 people have been investigated for
links to the Oct. 20 clash in the Algiers shantytown of Diar Echems.
Five days later, an Algiers court began hearings of 20 young men charged
attacking security forces. The trial, surrounded by a heavy police presence,
was monitored by the Algerian Human Rights Defense League.
Violent unrest has been reported in other areas of Algeria in late
October. This included riots in the southeastern town of Ruisat, 800
south of Algiers, as well as in the provinces of Boumerdes and Tizi Ouzou.
All of the protests were linked to the failure by the government to keep its
promises to supply jobs and housing.
The Western diplomatic source said civil unrest could mark the next
major threat to the regime of President Abdul Aziz Bouteflika. Opposition
leaders have charged that Bouteflika squandered
the tens of billions of dollars in annual energy revenue, and reported a
rise in corruption in the government and security forces.
"The riots of recent years express the outrage of distraught young
people hit hard by unemployment, alienation and despair," Algerian analyst
Mohammed Hachemaoui, a sociology professor, said. "This is the symptom of a
political crisis: the regime causes the riot, which is an extreme and
violent means of 'speaking out.'"