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Finances weaken Algiers' capacity to buy stability

Friday, February 6, 2015

Significance

Protests have been mostly concentrated at In Salah, where drilling for exploration of shale gas began on December 27, although solidarity protests have taken place elsewhere too. Algeria has the third-largest estimated shale gas reserves in the world, but protesters fear environmental damage, specifically of the country's water reserves, and that citizens will not enjoy the benefits of the resource's exploitation. Despite assurances by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, protests have persisted.

Impacts

  • If oil prices stay low or fall further, the regime may be forced into political change more quickly than it wishes.
  • Potential successors to Bouteflika include Prime Minister Abdel Malek Sellal, the Minister of the Interior Tayeb Belaiz, or Ahmed Ouyahia.
  • If Bouteflika's brother, Sa'id, wields effective power for a further 2-3 years, his credibility as a candidate would be enhanced.
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