The fear, that Algeria is about to suffer an Islamist victory in a revolutionary way, which will turn it in a second Iran on the southern door or Europe, is as unlikely as the Governement winning an outright victory. Neither side has the power decisively to defeat the other. It is more likely that a state of virtual civil war will endure for several years, the Government and the Islamists will continue their campaigns within their limited abilities, the population will learn to survive in poverty, and the violence will be periodically interrupted by unsuccessful peace initiatives. Another happier possibilitiy is that the Government and the militants will be persuaded to reach a negotiated settlement. Both the secular political parties and the FIS are now in favour o negotiations, but the army, for the moment, wants to continue its military offensive.
The military intervention not only marked the end of the democratic experiment, it brought Algerians face to face with the total failure of their country since it had won their independence. It was not only their political system that had collapsed, their economy was bankrupt - indeed that was the main cause of their political troubles. Economic reforms, prescribed by the IMF and the World Bank, should be of benefit in the medium and long term. In the short term some of them are increasing the already great poverty of the unemployed. The oil production has fallen and recently the country has scarely been able to meet its OPEC quota of 800,000 barrels a day. There are some signs of a new mood in the Government`s attitude to foreign investment, including the oil sector.
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