This oil-rich nation in the Maghreb region of North Africa is wracked by ongoing political and economic turmoil. One third of the population exists in poverty. It is estimated an additional 10 percent will fall into poverty if the economic situation does not improve.
In February, massive protests, labeled “The Smile Revolution” under the banner of “bread, freedom and social justice” erupted days after Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who had been in power since 1999 and following a series of strokes had not made a public appearance since 2014.
These protests, without precedent since the Algerian Civil War in the 1950’s, have been peaceful and led the military to insist on Bouteflika’s immediate resignation, which took place on 2 April 2019.
In 2013, the armed conflict in neighboring Mali threatened to swamp and destabilize Algeria with refugees and violence. The previous year, France launched Operation Serval under the guise of defeating militants in North Mali. Both Algeria and Mali are former French colonies.
With armed ethnic groups on the rise and a surge of violence this year in Mali, more than 160,000 people have been displaced by ethnic fighting.
In 1957, French geologists discovered uranium at Azelik in Niger, making the country the fourth-largest producer of uranium. In 2013, France’s Foreign Legion intervened in Niger to secure uranium mines operated by the French state-owned nuclear power company Areva.