The West Must Tie Energy Cooperation with Algeria to Human Rights Concerns

“The ripple effects of Russia’s war on Ukraine are being felt across the globe, including as far afield as Algeria, where the troubled government has secured a lifeline due to Europe’s desperation for new energy suppliers. This development comes three years after the ruling military-political establishment came under real threat from the popular uprising known as the Hirak. Yet, while this may temporarily relieve pressure on Algeria’s leaders, the government could see a rapid reversal of fortune as internal tensions rise once again — and if rising domestic demand and capacity issues limit the ability to meet European energy demands.

“Last month, Algeria’s renewed diplomatic clout was on full display when Algiers hosted the 31st Summit of the Arab League, despite the recriminations that preceded it and the relatively tame final declaration. This was a far cry from just three years ago, when millions of Algerians took to the streets to protest then-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s intention to serve a fifth term, successfully ousting him after two decades in power.

“However, the momentum of the Hirak was stunted by the advent of COVID-19, which gave the authorities cover to ban all street protests, and restrictions on civil society have intensified in the intervening years. President Abdelmajid Tebboune’s government has implemented reforms in the penal code that criminalize the broadcast of fake news that undermines “public order and security,” allowing practically anyone to be targeted as the enemy of the state; it has rounded up many of the activists, political opposition and journalists at the center of the Hirak, using threats to national security to stifle free speech. …”

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