10. Political and Security Environment
Algeria’s political and security environment is stable, with the government having largely routed Islamist rebels who fought government forces during the widespread civil strife of the 1990s. The government’s efforts to reduce terrorism have focused on active security services and social reconciliation and reintegration. Isolated terrorist incidents still occasionally occur, but they are rare. There have been two major attacks on oil and gas installations in the last 10 years. In March 2016, terrorists launched a home-made rocket attack on a gas facility in central Algeria that caused limited damage but no casualties. In January 2013, there was a major attack at a remote oil and gas facility near the town of In Amenas in south-east Algeria (approximately 1,500 kilometers from Algiers) in which nearly 40 people – mostly western energy sector workers, including three Americans – were killed. Other terrorist attacks claimed by ISIS include an August 2017 suicide attack in Tiaret that killed two police officers and a February 2017 attack that injured two policemen in Constantine. Each of these attacks prompted swift counter-terrorism responses by Algerian security services to uproot the militants responsible for the attacks.
Protests in Algeria occur frequently concerning housing and other social programs. While the majority of these protests are generally peaceful, there are occasional outbreaks of violence that result in injuries, sometimes resulting from efforts of security forces to disperse the protests. In January 2018, clashes between police and protesters broke out during a demonstration in Algiers (where protests are illegal) by medical residents, injuring several protesters.
Government reactions to public unrest typically include tighter security control on movement between and within cities to prevent further clashes and promises of either greater public expenditures on local infrastructure or increased local hiring for state-owned companies. During the first several months of 2015, there was a series of protests in several cities in the south of the country against the government’s program to drill test wells for shale gas. These protests were largely peaceful but sometimes resulted in clashes, injury, and rarely, property damage. Announcements in 2017 that authorities would recommence shale gas exploration have not, to date, generated protests.
The Algerian government requires all foreign employees of foreign companies or organizations based in Algeria to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before traveling in the country’s interior so that the Government can evaluate need for police coordination. The Algerian government also requires U.S. Embassy employees to coordinate all staff travel outside of the Algiers wilaya (province) with the government; for this reason U.S. consular services may be limited outside of the Algiers wilaya.
U.S. citizens living or traveling in Algeria are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) via the State Department’s travel registration website, https://step.state.gov/step, to receive security messages and make it easier to be located in an emergency.
12. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs
An Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) agreement between the U.S and Algeria was signed in June 1990. In 2005, the Algerian Energy Company entered a deal with Ionics Inc. of Watertown, Massachusetts, in which Ionics agreed to build a water desalination plant and the state water authority took a minority stake in the plant and agreed to purchase the bulk of the clean water produced. OPIC provided a $200 million loan to Ionics, a desalination equipment manufacturer that was later acquired by General Electric. In 2017, GE sold its stake in the Algiers water desalination plant, OPIC’s first and only project in Algeria to date.