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Sanctionstein: What is the real cause of America’s latest sanctions regime?

The latest round of American sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea are nothing more than a desperate attempt to curtail European investment.

Haneul Na'avi

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“Light, feeling, and sense will pass away; and in this condition must I find my happiness […] Polluted by crimes and torn by the bitterest remorse, where can I find rest but in death?

—Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, Chapter 24

On 25th July, a united Congress issued a new round of economic sanctions against Russian, Iranian, and North Korean industries, ignoring US President Donald Trump’s provisions, and after last month’s attempts stalled due to unintended economic consequences.

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions [R-TX] feared that they would cause “huge problems to companies in Dallas, Texas, that I represent,” putting them at a disadvantage.

Despite this, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders rallied Congress.

“We […] will continue to work with the House and Senate to put those tough sanctions in place on Russia until the situation in Ukraine is fully resolved,” she read carefully from her talking points.

However, the actual legislation, “Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act of 2017” (S.1221) deems it necessary to “authorize the appropriation of $530 million […] to counter Russian influence in Europe and Eurasia and to promote energy security in Ukraine.”

In reality, the bill, a mess of incoherent reasoning, attempts to ‘isolate’ Russia and promote post-coup Ukraine’s privatised (and failing) oil and gas industry, now controlled by American investors.

For example, section 8 does not specify which companies to promote; however, Burmisa Holdings, the private Ukrainian oil conglomerate to which Hunter Biden, former US Vice President Joe Biden’s son, is a member of the board of directors, will eventually take precedence.

Burisma owns several Ukrainian oil and gas companies, including Esko Pivnich and Pari [and] the company also has assets in Ukraine’s Dnepr-Donetsk, the Carpathian and the Azov-Kuvan basins”, a May 2014 Moscow Times article reported.

“[Joe Biden] has pledged to support efforts to reduce [Ukraine’s] dependency on Russian energy”, it continued.

Lickspittle Ben Cardin (D-MD) of the Senate Foreign Relations’ Committee lavished the sanctions, citing the ubiquitous ramblings of ‘Russian aggression’ to Politico.

I believe the proposed changes to the bill have helped to clarify the intent of members of Congress as well as express solidarity with our closest allies in countering Russian aggression and holding the Kremlin accountable for their destabilizing activities,” he droned.

However, his ‘closest allies’—members of the European Union—were never consulted in the sanctions’ regime and did not share his sentiments.

Several high-ranking German, French, and Austrian officials have openly condemned the unilateral moves, RT reports.

Most salient was European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker’s scathing response:

[The bill] foresees the imposition of sanctions on any company (including European) which contributes to the development, maintenance, modernisation or repair of energy export pipelines by the Russian Federation [which] could affect infrastructure transporting energy resources to Europe [and] have an impact on projects crucial to the EU’s diversification objectives such as the Baltic Liquefied Natural Gas project.

This is why the Commission concluded today that if our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days. America first cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also commented on the sanctions, calling them “extra-cynical”.

We, as you know, are behaving with restraint, very patiently, but at some point we will have to respond, it is impossible to tolerate arrogance toward our country forever,” he expressed.

The growing deterioration in EU-US relations threatens to midwife a powerful rebellion to which Congress cannot extricate itself, and this time, American’s disruptive meddling may irreversibly isolate it from longstanding allies.

Alienation, Commodity Fetishism, and American Sanctions

Karl Marx’s theory of historical materialism illustrates the contradiction within America’s sanctions’ regime.

Marx’s manuscript, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, points out that:

At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production [which] turn into their fetters.

Those ‘fetters’ are the dying petrodollar—oil as a commodity to dominate global productive forces—diminished by rising international currencies, which a previous Duran article explains.

Furthermore, the Trump administration hallmarks the transition of America into alienation. Simply put, as the US attempts to ‘isolate Russia, Iran, etc.’—whatever that means—it becomes further ostracised from other great powers who fight to assert themselves in the global market.

No longer are the American bourgeoisie controllers of the petrodollar, but quite the contrary, they fetishise it, invoking the monster of late-stage imperialism that compels them both to demise.

This is precisely what Marx implied in “Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right”, section 2,

“The mystical substance becomes the real subject and the real subject appears to be something else, namely a moment of the mystical substance.”

The American bourgeoisie’s wretched creation now demands a companion (empire), lest the vile creature completely destroys its creator as an impending consequence.

Inevitably, the bourgeoisie and petrodollar will share the same fate as Shelly’s antagonist, immolated together in the destructive flames of that (em)pyre.

Historical Developments Influencing the Sanctions

Several highly important developments have given rise to the blanket US sanctions regime.

One must note that the sanctions do not affect the European economy, but directly target it, as the EU is the single greatest existential threat to US dollar hegemony after China and Russia.

Growing investment between Iran, China, Russia, and the EU has followed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), to which the P5+1 (United Nations Security Council permanent members China, Russia, France, the UK, and US with Germany) are signatories.

Earlier this month, delegates of Russian energy giant Gazprom and German petrochemicals company BASF negotiated completion of the Nord Stream-2 project in Moscow.

[…] in the first half of 2017 Gazprom supplied Germany with 26.5 billion cubic meters of gas, an increase of 3.8 billion cubic meters (+16.7 percent) against the first six months of 2016. The parties stressed the importance of the timely implementation of the project.

This is why EU Commission President Junker seeks retaliation: energy demands are increasing and the sanctions threaten the scheduled completion of the Nord Stream-2.

France, however, is the most relevant case study to date and the focus of the sanctions.

French President Emanuel Macron has long desired to end anti-Russian sanctions, even whilst serving as former President Francois Hollande’s finance minister.

The objective we all share is to provide the lifting of sanctions by the summer, as far as the peace process in south-eastern Ukraine is respected,” he stated in Jan 2016.

FARS news details France’s motivations perfectly,

Sanctions that are prohibitive or otherwise too restrictive to foster trade risk driving business to foreign markets — and, in doing so, broker new alliances between longtime American friends and foes. Tensions wrought by US sanctions against Russia, for example, have divided US allies in Europe that were already financially struggling before being hit with the economic penalties’ knock-on effects. That’s why the lower house of France’s parliament has voted [302-16] in a nonbinding agreement to lift EU sanctions against Russia.

EU Commission figures show that the global recession (2008-2014) and volatile oil prices compelled the Sarkozy and Hollande administrations to ‘diversify’ its Middle Eastern sources.

In this period, France’s domestic oil imports fell sharply from 610 mln. barrels at 59.5 bln. USD to 410 mln. barrels at 39.9 bln due to fluctuating crude oil costs and lower manufacturing demands.

Whist supply volumes diminished, 2011-2013 was the most expensive period for crude oil supply costs, with an average of 111 USD per barrel.

In 2011, at its most severe point, the Sarkozy administration invaded Libya along with its NATO allies. France’s Total also joined the now-defunct Nabucco pipeline, which was originally proposed in 2009 to diversify EU oil.

Ironically, Syria rejected it in favour of a pan-Islamic pipeline, which sparked the Saudi and US-backed coup and cancelled the Nabucco project; later, the war facilitated the future Iranian-Syrian-Iraqi security initiative.

“[The] natural gas pipeline would run through Syria’s Aleppo and Turkey unto Europe. However, Assad dampened this dream in 2011 when he instead forged a pact with Iraq and Iran to run an ‘Islamic pipeline’ eastward to the European market,” Christina Lin highlighted.

French oil conglomerate Total finally conceded and greenlighted the Iranian South Pars 11 project last November, defying previous US sanctions, in order to make up for the lost pipeline.

Total has signed a Heads of Agreement (HoA) with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) for the development of phase 11 of South Pars, the world’s largest gas field [which] will have a production capacity of 1.8 billion cubic feet per day, or 370 000 barrels of oil equivalent [and] the produced gas will be fed into Iran’s gas network.

French, Iranian, and Chinese companies will finance the entire South Pars project, Total continues:

[We] will operate the SP11 project with a 50.1% interest alongside Petropars (19.9%), a 100% subsidiary of NIOC, and the Chinese state-owned oil and gas company CNPC (30%).

Total’s strategic partnership combines its technical experience with the financial autonomy of its investors and vast untapped reserves of Iranian natural gas.

“[Total] could not be immune to U.S. embargo due to investment in Iran’s oil sector. Over recent years, by setting up international consortiums, Total has managed to circumvent US’s D’Amato sanctions and join South Pars. CNPC’s presence is for the same reason of getting around the sanctions,” IRNA states

The trilateral partnership will also finance the project in Euros instead of dollars, which is the fundamental reason for the unilateral US sanctions.

With U.S. sanctions still in place prohibiting trading with Iran in dollars, Total will finance the project in euros from its own resources,” Reuters mentioned.

At the 1 June St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), CEO Patrick Pouyanne assured investors of his commitment to the project.

“It is worth taking the risk […] because it opens a huge market. We are perfectly conscious of some risks. We have taken into account (sanctions) snap-backs [and] regulation changes,” he stated.

The agreement will spark a European race for Iranian oil, which will guarantee longterm energy security, as most EU bureaucrats still wish to diversify (not divest) fuel sources away from Russia and find the Azerbaijani Shah Deniz project difficult and expensive to finance.

ADVFN explains further,

This contract, which has a 20-year duration, is the first Iranian Petroleum Contract (IPC) and is based on the […] Heads of Agreement signed on November 8, 2016.

Euronews also implies this as the source of last month’s Saudi-Qatari diplomatic row, as Qatar geographically shares the South Pars gas field with Iran,

South Pars is Iran’s section of the world’s biggest gas deposit, shared also with Qatar, and the Persian Gulf field lies at the center of a dispute embroiling Qatar and several Arab neighbors. Saudi Arabia severed commercial links with Qatar last month, accusing it of cozying up to arch-rival Iran. Qatar initially faced a Monday deadline to comply with 13 demands from a Saudi-led coalition, including a cutback in relations with Iran.

The Saudi monarchy now shares the fate of its American counterparts: self-imposed isolation due to economic meddling and bleeding profits due to new currencies entering the oil and gas sector.

In return for cooperating on the South Pars 11, France has offered Rouhani a spectacular deal: revitalising Tehran’s beleaguered airline industry and resuming flights after an 8-year suspension.

Zagros Airlines [will] buy 20 aircraft from the […] Airbus A320neo family and eight A330neo planes. Iran Airtour’s order would comprise 45 planes of the A320neo type,” FARS notes.

Iran’s former deputy Transport Minister Ali Abedzadeh also met last year with former French Transport Minister Alain Vidalies to discuss aviation training schemes along with the Airbus deal.

Finally, both France‘s AREP and Italy‘s Ferrovie dello Stato have signed 7 mln. and 1.3 bln. Euro agreements, respectively, to expand and modernise Iran’s ageing railway system.

To facilitate this, both President Macron and French Finance Minister Michel Sapin have prioritised normalising banking ties with Iran.

The French president vowed to do his utmost for deepening of economic, scientific and cultural relations with Iran during his tenure as French president,” FARS stated.

It’s our aim and our will to normalized banking ties with Iran even if it can’t be done in one day,” Sapin urged during the meeting.

By using the EU as a human shield for its sanctions regime, the United States has expedited its demise by speeding up global USD divestment.

It is of the utmost importance that the P5-1 (minus the US) begin using alternative payment systems such as the Chinese CIPS and Russian SPFS to facilitate their trade agreements.

If France wishes to redeem itself by leading the European pivot, it should facilitate and offer feedback on these new systems to accrue empirical data for other EU member states; other economic powers within the European Economic Area (EEA) will follow suit.

If the European Union, Russia, China and Iran can do this, the US sanctions will mean nothing.

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Trudeau’s Top Bureaucrat Unexpectedly Quits Amid Growing Corruption Scandal

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

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Via Zerohedge


Since it was exposed by a report in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper earlier this month, the scandal that’s become known as the SNC-Lavalin affair has already led to the firing of several of Trudeau’s close advisors and raised serious questions about whether the prime minister was complicit in pressuring the attorney general to offer a deferred prosecution agreement with a large, Quebec-based engineering firm.

And according to the first round of polls released since the affair exploded into public view…

…it could cost Trudeau his position as prime minister and return control to the conservatives, according to the CBC.

Campaign Research showed the Conservatives ahead with 37% to 32% for the Liberals, while both Ipsos and Léger put the margin at 36% to 34% in the Conservatives’ favour.Since December, when both polling firms were last in the field, the Liberals have lost one point in Campaign Research’s polling and four percentage points in the Ipsos poll, while the party is down five points since November in the Léger poll.

Meanwhile, as the noose tightens around Trudeau, on Monday another of the key Canadian government officials at the center of the SNC-Lavalin scandal has quit his post.

Michael Wernick, clerk of the privy council, the highest-ranking position in Canada’s civil service and a key aide to Justin Trudeau, announced his retirement Monday. Trudeau named Ian Shugart, currently deputy minister of foreign affairs, to replace him.

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

“It is now apparent that there is no path for me to have a relationship of mutual trust and respect with the leaders of the opposition parties,” he said, citing the need for impartiality on the issue of potential foreign interference. According to Bloomberg, the exact date of his departure is unclear.

As we reported in February, Canada’s former justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, quit following allegations that several key Trudeau government figures pressured her to intervene to end a criminal prosecution against Montreal-based construction giant SNC. Wernick was among those she named in saying the prime minister’s office wanted her to pursue a negotiated settlement.

Wernick has since twice spoken to a committee of lawmakers investigating the case, and during that testimony both defended his actions on the SNC file and warned about the risk of foreign election interference, as “blame Putin” has become traditional Plan B plan for most politicians seeing their careers go up in flames.

“I’m deeply concerned about my country right now, its politics and where it’s headed. I worry about foreign interference in the upcoming election,” he said in his first appearance before the House of Commons justice committee, before repeating the warning a second time this month. “If that was seen as alarmist, so be it. I was pulling the alarm. We need a public debate about foreign interference.”

Because somehow foreign interference has something to do with Wenick’s alleged corruption.

Incidentally, as we wonder what the real reason is behind Wernick’s swift departure, we are confident we will know soon enough.

Anyway, back to the now former clerk, who is meant to be non-partisan in service of the government of the day, also criticized comments by a Conservative senator and praised one of Trudeau’s cabinet ministers.

Wernick’s testimony was criticized as overly cozy with the ruling Liberals. Murray Rankin, a New Democratic Party lawmaker, asked the clerk how lawmakers could “do anything but conclude that you have in fact crossed the line into partisan activity?” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said he seemed “willing to interfere in partisan fashion for whoever is in power.”

Whatever Wernick’s true motives, he is the latest but not last in what will be a long line of cabinet departures as the SNC scandal exposes even more corruption in Trudeau’s cabinet (some have ironically pointed out that Canada’s “beloved” prime minister could be gone for actual corruption long before Trump). Trudeau had already lost a top political aide, Gerald Butts, to the scandal. A second minister, Jane Philpott, followed Wilson-Raybould in quitting cabinet.

Separately, on Monday, Trudeau appointed a former deputy prime minister in a Liberal government, Anne McLellan, as a special adviser to investigate some of the legal questions raised by the controversy. They include how governments should interact with the attorney general and whether that role should continue to be held by the justice minister.

As Bloomberg notes, the increasingly shaky Liberal government hasn’t ruled out helping SNC by ordering a deferred prosecution agreement in the corruption and bribery case, which centers around the company’s work in Moammar Qaddafi’s Libya. Doing so would allow the company to pay a fine and avoid any ban on receiving government contracts. That decision is up to the current attorney general, David Lametti; of course, such an action would only raise tensions amid speculation that the government is pushing for a specific political, and favorable for Trudeau, outcome.

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France To Ban Yellow Vest Protests In Neighborhoods With “Ultra” Radicals

Philippe added that he has asked the State Judicial Agent to “systematically seek the financial responsibility of troublemakers.”

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Via Zerohedge


France is cracking down on “yellow vest” protesters following a weekend of renewed violence – as the Macron administration announced on Monday that it would ban demonstration in several areas of france – including the Champs Elysees in Paris, if “ultra elements” are present, according to Interior Minister Edouard Philippe.

‘We will ban demonstrations if ultra elements’ are present, said Philippe, according to CNEWS.

The ban will apply to “neighborhoods that have been most affected as soon as we have knowledge of” the “ultras.”

“I am thinking of course the Champs-Elysees in Paris, the place Pey-Berland in Bordeaux, the Capitol Square in Toulouse”, Philippe added, where “we will proceed to the immediate dispersal of all groups.

Philippe added that he has asked the State Judicial Agent to “systematically seek the financial responsibility of troublemakers.”

Saturday marked a significant escalation in violence during the group’s 18th straight week of protests – which began as a revolt against a climate-change gas tax and expanded into a general anti-government movement.

As we noted on Sunday, the riots were so severe that French President Emmanuel Macron cut short a vacation at the La Mongie ski resort in the Hautes-Pyrénées following a three-day tour of East Africa which took him to Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Macron said over Twitter that “strong decisions” were coming to prevent more violence.

Macron said some individuals — dubbed “black blocs” by French police forces — were taking advantage of the protests by the Yellow Vest grassroots movement to “damage the Republic, to break, to destroy.” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Twitter that those who excused or encouraged such violence were complicit in it. –Bloomberg

Sounds like things are about to get a lot more violent in Gay Paree.

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The Destabilisation Of Algeria: The Influx Of New Refugees To Europe And A Threat To Its Energy Security

The destabilisation of Algeria will undoubtedly cause problems for Europe. 

The Duran

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Via Oriental Review:


The president of Algeria, 82-year-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been in power for almost 20 years, has declared that he will not be running for what would have been his fifth term. The announcement was made against the backdrop of widespread protests that have been rocking the country for days. Thus, the latest revolution in the Arab world has succeeded. The question is, what will come next?

Despite being laid to rest countless times, the Arab Spring has continued where it was least expected. Algeria has the same explosive cocktail as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria, of course: a young, rapidly growing urban population deprived of jobs and opportunities; corruption and poverty amid opulent wealth and luxury; uneasy relationships between ethnic groups (in Algeria’s case, between the Arabs and the Kabyle people, a Berber ethnic group); Islamist activity; and, finally, an unchanging authoritarian leader who rules with the same unchanging palette of ideas as every other dictatorship – “Who else if not me?”, “It will be worse without me”, “You don’t change horses in midstream” and so on. But judging by how calmly the country endured the turbulent events in nearby Tunisia and Libya, with only localised pockets of unrest, many experts were under the impression that the elderly Bouteflika would simply be able to retire by handing the presidency to whomever he wants – namely Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, who has the unspoken title of “successor”. Something has gone wrong, however.

It is unclear why, on 10 February, Bouteflika announced that he would be taking part in the presidential election scheduled for April. It is even unclear how much say he had in this decision. In 2013, Bouteflika suffered a stroke. A year later he was re-elected amid myriad accusations of election fraud and stopped appearing in public. Until last Sunday, that is, when Bouteflika delivered an address to the nation in which he announced he had changed his mind and no longer wanted to run for re-election.

“There won’t be a fifth mandate and it was never on the table as far as I am concerned,” he said. “Given my state of health and age, my last duty towards the Algerian people was always contributing to the foundation of a new Republic.”

On Monday, the government, including Ahmed Ouyahia, resigned. A “cabinet of technocrats” is being put together in its place headed by the now former interior minister, Noureddine Bedoui, and the streets of the country’s capital are filled with cheering crowds.

The biggest potential powder keg for the situation in Algeria, of course, is the fact that the presidential election has been postponed indefinitely. Exactly when it will take place will become clear after the national conference tasked with drafting a new constitution. The presidential election and the voting on it has to take place at the same time.

So, for the time being there is political uncertainty: a president who has either resigned or hasn’t; an emerging government; and a people inspired by what seems to be a victory. There is also the bulldog fight going on behind the scenes at the highest levels of government about which little is known, but which has been hampered by the presence of the country’s unquestioned leader, Bouteflika.

President of Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika

It should be remembered, however, that, no matter what you think of him, the current Algerian leaderdid actually bring stability to the country. It was during his presidency that the so-called “Black Decade” – a civil war instigated by Islamists in 1991 – came to an end. After winning the 1999 presidential election, Bouteflika secured an amnesty for the militants and the wave of terror gradually subsided. At the beginning of his time in office, he pursued a fairly flexible policy, didn’t persecute his opponents as long as they didn’t resort to violent methods, and tried to make it so that rising energy prices had a positive impact on the well-being of the people and not just the ruling elite. The system began to stiffen in 2008, however, when a law was passed allowing the president to be re-elected an infinite number of times. This process has now gone so far that opponents of the regime are only going to be happy with serious, rather than cosmetic, changes, and this kind of attitude always spells danger for the future of a country.

If the situation in Algeria comes to bloodshed, then it is unlikely that other countries will stay on the sidelines. Europe will be forced to intervene, if only to prevent a new wave of refugees from Arab countries.

Meanwhile, the situation in Algeria remains tense. The president’s announcement that he will not run for a fifth term has not quelled the protests. The unrest of the people is now directed against the introduction of a transition period and the creation of a new government that they believe will contain all the same people who are running the country now. The protesters are demanding a regime change, although they are not formulating their position very well. What’s more, following Bouteflika’s decision not to run for re-election on 18 April, no one is ready – there are no other candidates, no one has carried out an election campaign and it would be virtually impossible to do so in the time remaining. It therefore seems that the different sides will now have to talk to each other.

A possible split in the Algerian elite could be dangerous. In fact, that’s why Bouteflika was put forward for president – he united them. The balance among the parties close to power is extremely fragile, but the feelings of unrest and discontent are strong. A number of organisations are taking part in the street protests, including various parties and NGOs, and the longer the protests continue, the more various forces will try to take advantage of them.

Prime Minister of Algeria Noureddine Bedoui

Algeria’s political parties and movements have been divided in their assessment of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decisions. The National Liberation Front has supported the head of state, who “heeded the calls of the Algerian people”. In a statement, the ruling party said: “It allows politicians and members of civil society to take part in the construction of a new Algeria.” Abdelamajid Munasyra, the deputy leader of the moderate Islamist party Movement for the Society of Peace, said that Bouteflika “withdrew his candidacy from the presidential election but remained in power, which violates the constitution”. The Algerian newspaper Elkhabar quotes the politician as saying:

“The political opposition is waiting for the response of the people, whether these decisions will be accepted by the people. But if these steps are not taken, which is likely, then we will stand with the people.”

In a video statement, the head of the Union for Reform and Progress, Zubaidah Assul, called the president’s actions “a political manoeuvre and an attempt to avoid meeting the demands of the demonstrators”. The Algerian politician continued: “From what we have heard, it appears that the president has extended his term in office, and he has not given any indication of how long the transition period will last.” She also noted that the posts of prime minister and deputy prime minister have been filled by representatives of the “old regime”. At the same time, Assul believes that the people will quietly continue trying to oust “the entire regime from power”.

The dissatisfaction of Algerians is being spurred on by the unfavourable social and economic situation in the country. The protesters are demanding pro-Western reforms and they’re demanding changes in the country. According to unofficial sources, more than one million people took part in the protests in Algeria on 1 March.

The lack of a viable successor and the inability of the current elite to solve the economic crisis are contributing to the uncertainty of Algeria’s political future, something that the current regime’s main opponents – the Islamists – will inevitably try to take advantage of. The weakening of the vertical power structure and the continuing protests are creating a breeding ground for the resurrection of Islamist organisations. In particular, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb recently published a talk entitled “Algeria…Getting Out From The Dark Tunnel”, which states that the organisation is ready to take advantage of the unrest when the time is right.

The destabilisation of Algeria will undoubtedly cause problems for Europe. Besides the inevitable influx of new refugees, Europe could also face a threat to its energy security, given that Algeria provides a third of the gas consumed in Europe and as much as half of the gas consumed in Spain. At the same time, the weakness of the current government during a possible civil conflict will be exacerbated by the situation in the bordering countries of Libya and Mali. ISIS jihadists have strong positions in both countries, while the lengthy and poorly controlled border with Mali and Libya risks the spread of Islamic fundamentalism into the vast territories of north and north-west Africa.

The US will also not fail to take advantage of the complex situation in Algeria. Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, Washington will easily be able to implement plans to penetrate and consolidate its positions in the Sahel-Sahara Region. A large-scale military presence will also allow the US to secure its interests in reorienting Algeria’s energy policy towards the development of shale gas and implementing its strategic objective of organising the supply of this raw material to Europe.

Whatever happens, Algeria is facing several serious challenges at once and its ability to respond is being severely hampered by a lack of any notable potential leaders either within government or within the ranks of the opposition.

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