Algeria

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Overview

Algeria borders the Mediterranean Sea between Morocco and Tunisia in Northern Africa. Though originally settled by the Berbers in the 5th Century BC, Algeria was conquered by a number of ruling powers, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Arabs, Turkish and French. Byzantine Arabs brought the Islamic faith to the region, and the country remains 99% Muslim today. Though Algeria earned its freedom from French colonialists in 1962, infighting among hard-line Islamist parties and more moderate factions led to violence and terrorist attacks that lasted throughout the 1990s. Since the US terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, however, Algeria has stepped forward to work with the US in thwarting terrorism worldwide. Though the country has been cited for numerous human rights violations over the years, officials from the United States and other nations have met with Algerian leaders to affect an open-door trade policy and agreements to work toward shared international goals.

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: A part ofthe Maghreb, or western part of Arab North Africa, Algeria borders the Mediterranean Sea, between Morocco and Tunisia. Algeria is more than three times the size of Texas. Its name is Arabic for “the islands,” and it is believed to be a reference to the 998 kilometers of coastline beside the rocky islands of the Mediterranean. The country is mostly high plateau and desert with some mountains. The Sahara desert covers 80 percent of the entire country.

 
Population: 34,760,000 (2009)
 
Religions: Islam is the state religion, and 99% of Algerians are Sunni Muslim. It has been estimated that there are less than 5,000 non-Muslim residents in Algeria.
 
Ethnic Groups: Arabs comprise the majority of the population. Berbers represent one-fifth of the Algerian population, and Europeans are less than one percent. 
 
Languages: Arabic (official), French, and about 17 Berber dialects, including Kabyle, Korandje, Tachawit, Tachelhit, Tagargrent, Tamahaq, Tamazight, Tarifit, Taznatit, and Tumzabt.
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History

The Berbers, a people from the northern part of Africa, first populated Algeria in the 5th Century BC. The Berbers were influenced by Carthaginians, Romans, and Byzantines. However, several other powers, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Arabs, Turkish and French, all conquered the area in successive waves.

 
The Romans urbanized Algeria and maintained a military presence there in the second century. Algeria was ruled next by Vandals, a Germanic tribe, who were in turn conquered by Byzantine Arabs, who brought the Islamic faith to the region. Beginning in the early 16th Century, Algeria was part of the Ottoman Empire for 300 years, and became a distinct province between Tunisia and Morocco. European nations, and eventually the United States, were required to pay tribute to these countries of North Africa, which ruled the shipping lanes of the Mediterranean until the French invaded Algeria in 1830. 
 
Though the borders of Algeria have shifted throughout history, the French established the borders recognized today in 1830. Most the French colonists were farmers and businessmen seeking new opportunities in Algeria. So to benefit them, France organized Algeria into overseas departments of the home country, with representatives in the French National Assembly. This gave France control over the country, while still keeping the traditional Muslim population separated from the modern economic infrastructure of the European community.
 
However, the Algerian rights movement gained ground over the next few decades, and in November of 1954, Algerians began to rise up against the French colonialists. A small group of nationalists called the National Liberation Front (FLN) launched a small guerilla war targeting civilians and utilizing brutal tactics.
 
The war went on for several years, until France and the FLN signed a cease-fire on March 18, 1962 at Evian, France. The Evian Accords provided for continuing economic, financial, technical and cultural relationships, as well as interim administrative needs until the fledgling country could hold its first referendum. One million French citizens living in Algeria, called the pieds-noirs (black feet), returned to France at this time.
 
On July 1, 1962, Algeria held a referendum, and France officially recognized Algeria as a sovereign nation on July 3. Ahmed Ben Bella was elected as the nation's first president in September of 1962, and on September 8, a new constitution was adopted by referendum.
 
On June 19, 1965, President Ben Bella was overthrown in a non-violent coup, and replaced with the Council of the Revolution, headed by the Minister of Defense Col. Houari Bomediene. Eventually, Ben Bella was imprisoned and then sent into exile. 
 
During his term, Bomediene created many changes that brought Algeria into modern times. His death, on December 27, 1978, brought that era to an end.
 
Col. Chadli Bendjedid was elected president in 1979, then re-elected in 1984 and 1988. Under his rule, a new constitution was adopted in 1989 that allowed other political parties (other than the FLN) to be created. More than 50 new parties registered, one of which was the militant Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), which quickly gained popularity and won 55 percent of the vote in local elections in 1990. The armed forces, which had run the government since the days of Boumediene, was removed from power, and enjoyed a diminished role in the government.
 
Under pressure from the Western democracies, the Algerian government announced parliamentary elections in 1991. The first round of elections took place in December 1991. The FIS won more 47% of the votes and seemed certain to win an outright majority in the second round, to be held in January. The military considered this outcome unacceptable and cancelled the second round of the electoral process. The cancellation sparked a decade-long civil war between FIS and the army.
 
The National People's assembly was dissolved by presidential decree on January 4, 1992, possibly in a move to undercut the FIS' growing power base. President Bendjedid, faced with political pressure from all sides, resigned on January 11, and on January 14, the High Council of Security appointed a five-member High Council of State to act as a collegiate presidency. Elections were cancelled.
 
This, combined with economic and political turmoil in the region, led to violent reactions from FIS. Mohamed Boudiaf, a hero of the Liberation War, was welcomed back to Algeria by the military on January 16, after 28 years in exile. He served as Algeria's fourth president, and immediately took control of the FIS offices in early February 1992. Due to violence and terrorism, the High Council of State declared a state of emergency. In March, the courts decided to disband the FIS party. Arrests and trials of FIS members followed, with more than 50,000 former FIS members serving time.
 
The remaining FIS activists launched a guerrilla war against the government, targeting soldiers and policemen. However, the guerrillas soon began targeting civilians as well, and it became clear that the FIS did not have control over the guerrillas. Factions emerged among the fighters, dividing them into the Islamic Armed Movement (MIA), the Movement for an Islamic State (MEI), and the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). The MIA and MEI, which would later unite as the Islamic Salvation Army, focused on developing an military strategy against the Algerian government, and their attacks targeted security services and state institutions. The GIA concentrated on urban areas and targeted anyone who supported the state, including government workers such as teachers and civil servants. A breakaway GIA group - the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC)—also launched terrorist attacks. More than 100,000 Algerians died as a result of this violence.
 
The violence became increasingly frequent and random. President Boudiaf was assassinated on June 29, 1992, in front of television cameras capturing his visit to Annaba. Army Lt. Lembarek Boumarafi, his assassin, confessed to the killing on behalf of the Islamists.
 
Violence and terrorism continued in Algeria throughout the 1990s. In 1994, the High Council of State appointed Liamine Zeroual, former Minister of Defense, as Head of State. He served a three-year term, and began negotiations with the imprisoned FIS leadership. His negotiations split the political spectrum between those who wanted compromise, such as the FLN and FFS, and those who were considered the “eradicators,” including the the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA). Pro-government “eradicator” paramilitaries emerged, notably the Organization of Young Free Algerians (OJAL), and launched attacks against against civilian Islamist supporters.  
 
Zeroual called for presidential elections in 1995, although some parties objected to holding elections that excluded the FIS. Zeroual was elected president with 75% of the vote. By 1997, in an attempt to bring political stability to the nation, the National Democratic Rally (RND) party was formed by a progressive group of FLN members. Plans for political stability were thwarted by a series a massacres between April 1997 and December 1998. The GIA claimed credit for the worst of the massacres and is indisputably considered responsible for all of them. The areas south and east of Algiers, which had supported FIS in 1991, were especially hard hit; guerrillas targeted entire villages or neighborhoods, killing regardless of age or sex. They called their killings an “offering to God.” Army barracks were stationed within a few hundred meters of the villages, yet did nothing to stop the massacres. The massacres were condemned by other rebel groups as well as by leaders within the GIA, many of whom left the GIA to form the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). 
 
 In September 1998, President Liamine Zeroual announced that he would step down in February 1999, 21 months before the end of his term. He agreed to hold presidential elections at this time.
 
In April of 1999, Algerians were to vote for one of seven candidates, but on the eve of the election, all candidates except Abdelaziz Bouteflika pulled out amid charges of widespread electoral fraud. Bouteflika had the backing of the military, as well as the FLN and the RND parties. He won the election, with 70% of votes cast, and was inaugurated on April 27, 1999 for a 5-year term.
 
President Bouteflika's agenda was focused around bringing security back to Algeria, and immediately after being sworn in, he announced an amnesty plan for those who had previously fought against the government. The only exceptions were those who had committed "blood crimes," such as rape or murder. This was known as the Civil Concord policy and was approved overwhelmingly in a national referendum in September 2000. Government estimates say that 80% of those offered the civil concord have accepted it. Bouteflika also launched national commissions to study education and judicial reform, and restructured the state bureaucracy. 
 
In 2001, Berber activists in the Kabylie region of the country, reacting to the death of a youth in gendarme custody, unleashed a resistance campaign. The group organized strikes and demonstrations, and demanded that Tamazight (a general term for Berber languages) be recognized as an official language in Algeria, as well as recognition and financial compensation for the deaths of Kabyles killed in demonstrations. These activists also demanded an economic development plan for the area, and greater control over their own regional affairs. 
In October of 2001, the Tamazight language was officially recognized as a national language. However, the group has remained at odds with the government, since Tamazight has not been recognized as an official language. 
 
On April 8, 2004, Algerians once again headed to the polls to elect a new president. Five candidates, including one woman, ran against sitting President Bouteflika. Opposition candidates complained of unfair advantages in the election, including President Bouteflika's daily appearances on national, state-owned television, and Bouteflika was re-elected in the first round of the election, with 84.99% of the vote. Approximately 58% of the electorate participated in the election.
 
Since that election, the security situation in Algeria has improved. Though the country still suffers from terrorist violence. In April 2007, a series of bombings in Algiers killed 33 people in a government facility and police station. Additionally, suicide bombers targeted a military barracks on July 11, killing eight soldiers. Algerian security forces retaliated and killed the leader of those attacks in July.
 
In September 2005, Algeria passed a referendum in favor of President Bouteflika's Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation. This makes it possible for new legislation to be passed that could grant clemency or pardons to those convicted of armed terrorist violence. The new charter builds upon the Civil Concord, and the Rahma (clemency) Law shields from prosecution anyone who laid down arms in response to those previous amnesty offers. The Charter specifically excludes from amnesty those involved in mass murders, rapes, or the use of explosives in public places.
 
The charter was implemented in March 2006, and the window for combatants to receive amnesty expired in September 2006. Approximately 2,500 Islamists were released under the charter. Many of them are now suspected of having returned to militant groups in Algeria.
Algerian History (Algerie Online)
History of Algeria (Wikipedia)
Algeria – History (Encyclopedia of the Nations)
Country Profile: Algeria (Library of Congress) {pdf}
Country Study: Algeria (Library of Congress)
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Algeria's Newspapers

Algeria Daily

Le Jour d'Algerie (In French)
Ech-Chaab (In Arabic)
El Massa (In Arabic)
El Moudjahid (In French)
El Watan (In French)
El Youm (In Arabic)
Ennahar Online
Horizons (In French)
Jeune Independant (In French)
L'Expression (In French)
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History of U.S. Relations with Algeria

 

The United States and Algeria have endured a rocky relationship since the beginning of US history. European maritime powers paid tributes demanded by the rulers of the privateering states of North Africa (Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, and Morocco) to prevent attacks on their shipping by corsairs. No longer covered by British tribute payments after the American Revolution, US merchant ships were seized and sailors enslaved, launching the Barbary Wars.
 
In 1794, the US Congress appropriated funds for the construction of warships to deal with the privateering threat, but three years later it concluded a treaty with the ruler of Algiers, guaranteeing payment of tribute amounting to $10 million over a 12-year period. Payments in ransom and tribute to the privateering states amounted to 20% of US government annual revenues in 1800.
 
In March 1815, Congress authorized naval action against the Barbary States and the then-independent Muslim states of Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. Commodore Stephen Decatur captured Algierian ships, which gave him bargaining power, and concluded a favorable treaty that the Algerian ruler repudiated shortly after. 
 
The United States and Algeria continued to have competing foreign policy objectives. Algeria's commitment to strict socialism, along with the Islamists' commitment to a global revolution against Western capitalism and imperialism, antagonized relations with the United States. Following the Algerian War of Independence, the United States maintained good relations with France instead of with Algeria.
 
Following the June 1967 war with Israel, Algeria broke diplomatic relations with the United States in 1967, and US-Algerian relations remained hostile throughout the 1970s. A number of incidents aggravated the tenuous relationship between the two countries. These included the American intervention in Vietnam and other developing countries, Algerian sponsorship of guerrilla and radical revolutionary groups, American sympathies for Morocco in the Western Sahara, and continued support for Israel by the United States. Algeria's policy of allowing aid and landing clearance at Algerian airports for hijackers also angered the US government.
 
In the 1980s, increased American demands for energy and a growing Algerian need for capital and technical assistance resulted in increased interaction between the two countries. In 1980, the United States imported more than $2.8 billion worth of oil from Algeria, and was Algeria's largest export market.
 
Algeria's role as intermediary in the release of the 52 US hostages from Iran in January 1981, and its retreat from a militant role in the developing world, also encouraged better relations with the United States. In 1990, Algeria received $25.8 million in financial assistance and bought $1 billion in imports from the United States, indicating that the United States had become an important international partner. On January 13, 1992, following the military coup that upset Algeria's burgeoning democratic system, the United States issued a formal but low-key statement condemning the military takeover. The next day, State Department spokesmen retracted the statement, calling for a peaceful resolution, but offering no condemnation of the coup. Since then, the United States has accepted a military dictatorship in Algeria. The military government has opened the country to foreign trade.
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Current U.S. Relations with Algeria

 

Noted Algerian-American
Zaida Ben-Yusuf was a key figure in the development of fine art photography. Her work fell into obscurity, but was reintroduced in 2008 as the subject of an exhibition at the Smithsonian. She is the daughter of a German mother and Algerian father.
 
AlgerianPresident Bouteflika visited the White House in July 2001, the first since 1985. An additional meeting, in November 2001, as well as meetings in New York in September 2003 and President Bouteflika's participation at the June 2004 G8 Sea Island Summit, have demonstrated Algeria's willingness to engage in talks opening the country to foreign investment.
 
The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US began a new dialogue with Algeria. Since that time, the two countries have worked together to find common ground to diminish terrorist violence. Algeria publicly condemned the attacks and has been supportive of US efforts to combat terrorism worldwide. In April 2006, then-Foreign Minister Bedjaoui met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to discuss mutual goals.
 
In July 2001, the United States and Algeria signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement that established operating principles and provided a basis for negotiating a bilateral trade treaty (BIT) and a free-trade treaty (FTA). In 2002, Algeria hosted an African Union summit on terrorism and an international conference on crime and counterterrorism. The country is also working on an extradition treaty with the United States, and has actively sought to combat terrorist financing. The FY 2002 Budget Request included $200,000 in IMET for Algeria, an increase from the previous year. 
 
Within the framework of the U.S.-North African Economic Partnership (USNAEP), the United States provided about $1 million in technical assistance to Algeria in 2003. This program supported and encouraged Algeria's economic reform program, and included support for World Trade Organization accession negotiations, debt management, and improving the investment climate. In 2003, USNAEP programs were rolled over into Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) activities, which provide funding for political and economic development programs in Algeria. In March 2004, President Bush designated Algeria a beneficiary country for duty-free treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).
 
In May 2005, the United States and Algeria conducted their first formal joint military dialogue in Washington, DC. The second joint military dialogue took place in Algiers in November 2006. The NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander, US European Command, General James L. Jones visited Algeria in June and August 2005, and then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited Algeria in February 2006. The United States and Algeria have also conducted bilateral naval and Special Forces exercises, and Algeria has hosted U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ship visits. In addition, the United States has a modest International Military Education and Training (IMET) Program ($824,000 in FY 2006) for training Algerian military personnel in the United States, and Algeria participates in the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP). The FY20010 budget requested an IMET allocation of $950,000 for Algeria.
 
In August 2005, then-Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Richard G. Lugar, led a Presidential Mission to Algeria and Morocco to oversee the release of the remaining 404 Moroccan POWs held by the Polisario Front in Algeria. Their release removed a longstanding bilateral obstacle between Algeria and Morocco.
 
Initial funding through the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) has been allocated to support the work of Algeria's developing civil society through programming that provides training to journalists, businesspersons, legislators, Internet regulators, and the heads of leading nongovernmental organizations. Additional funding through the State Department's Human Rights and Democracy Fund will assist civil society groups focusing on the issues of the disappeared, and Islam and democracy.
 
Despite improving ties, the US and Algeria still strongly disagree about issues in the Middle East, including Iraq, Syria, Israel and Sudan. Algerian officials condemned the invasion of Iraq and called for the early withdrawal of foreign troops. 
 
The official US presence in Algeria is expanding following over a decade of limited staffing, reflecting the general improvement in the security environment. During the past three years, the American Embassy has moved toward more normal operations and now provides most embassy services to the American and Algerian communities.
 
According to the 2000 US Census, there were approximately 8,752 people of Algerian ancestry living in the United States.
 
The U.S. and Algeria (U.S. State Department)
Algeria (Center for Defense Information)
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Where Does the Money Flow

In 2009, the US imported approximately $10.7 billion in goods from Algeria. Oil, liquefied petroleum gases, other petroleum products, and natural gases account for more than 99% of US imports from Algeria. While these imports grew steadily from 2003 to 2008, they all dropped sharply in 2009. American imports of crude oil from Algeria grew from $1.3 billion in 2003 to $11.5 billion in 2007, but dropped down to $6.25 billion in 2009. Liquified petroleum gases, which was at an all-time high in 2008 at $4.7 billion, declined to $2.0 billion, and other petroleum gases fell from $561 million to $213 million.

 
US imports from Algeria from 2008 to 2009 on the upswing included fruits and preparations, including frozen juices, up from $615,000 to $751,000, other tobacco, waxes, nonfood oil, which increased from $0 to $1.4 million, and stone, sand, cement and lime, growing from $316,000 to $1.6 million.
 
Other US imports on the decline from 2008 to 2009 included other precious metals, down from $101,000 to $45,000, other industrial machinery, decreasing from $100,000 to $0, and toiletries and cosmetics, decreasing from $3.4 million to $0.
 
The US exported an estimated 1.1 billion in goods to Algeria. The United States' primary export to Algeria include drilling and oilfield equipment at $204.7 million, industrial engines at $77.7 million, and other industrial machines at $83.5 million.
 
US exports to Algeria on the rise from 2008 to 2009 included parts for military type goods, which increased from $2.2 million to $12.6 million, writing and art supplies, moving up from $723,000 to $2.2 million, nuts, increasing from $12.1 million to $27.4 million, other iron and steel products, growing from $8.4 million to $22.1 million, and plastic materials, which increased from $44.8 million to $51.1 million. The US also exported $14.9 million in fuel oil back to Algeria.
 
Most American exports were on the decline from 2008 to 2009, including telecommunications equipment, which moved down from $92.4 million to $24.5 million, generators and accessories, decreasing from $30.2 million to $15.2 million, metallurgical grade coal, declining from $28.4 million to $11.2, oilseed, foodoils, dropping from 8\$80. 7 million to 58.6 million, and corn, decreasing from $69.9 million to $16.2.
 
In FY 2005, the State Department authorized the export of defense articles and services valued at $53,908,081 for Algeria. In FY 2007, the State Department authorized the export of defense articles and services valued at $128,798,618.
 
The budget request for fiscal year 20010 included $2.4 million for peace and security. This money is used to cultivate Algeria as a partner in “fighting global terrorism,” meaning it is used for programs such as the following: Joint Military Dialogue, Joint Military Exercises, International Military Education and Training, Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership and $500,000 to the Terrorist Interdiction Program. About $800,000 is allotted for “Governing Justly and Democratically,” in an effort to develop a more democratic system of government. An additional $500,000 was requested for “Economic Growth.” 
 
The FY 2010 budget requests $950,000 for International Military Education and Training (IMET) and $950,000 for Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR).
 
In June 2005, the United States government implemented the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative (TSCTI) in Algeria to assist the Algerian government in controlling its borders and reducing terrorism. TSCTI is the successor program to the Pan Sahel Initiative, a program launched after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The TSCTI provides training to Algerian forces in communications, land navigation, patrolling, planning and medical care. The TSCTI will receive approximately $100 million annually for five years. 
 
Also in 2005, the United States provided approximately $4.4 million in economic assistance to Algeria under the Middle East Partner Initiative (MEPI) and International Military Education and Training program (IMET). The MEPI program focuses on improving education and economic, political and women’s rights in Algeria. Under the IMET program, United States provides funding for military training dealing with counter-narcotics law enforcement, civil-military relations, defense management and military justice.
 
In 2006, Algeria was again the recipient of a grant under the Ambassadors' Fund for Cultural Preservation. That fund provided a grant of $106,110 to restore the El Pacha Mosque in Oran. Algeria also received an $80,000 grant to fund microscholarships to design and implement an American English-language program for Algerian high school students in four major cities.
 
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Controversies

French Campaign Poster, “Islamist Threat,” Directed at Algeria

In March 2010, France's far-right party, Front National (FN), distributed an election poster depicting a map of France covered in the Algerian flag covered with minarets and featuring a threatening woman whose face is hidden behind a “niqab” face veil. The slogan across the poster reads “Non à l'Islamisme,” “No to Islam.” The poster is a central part of FN's campaign in the Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur region in the south of France, but appeared on placards, walls and motorway bridges across the country. FN claims that the posters are a protest only against extreme forms of Islam, but critics say the use of the Algerian flag and minarets is a clear attempt to stir up anti-Islamic and anti-Arab feelings. French anti-racist groups failed to get an injunction against the distribution of the posters, and Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci made an official complaint to the French government demanding it to “take firm measures to prevent the symbols of foreign nations from being insulted.” FN leader Jean-Marie Le Pen is scheduled to appear in court on May 6th for criminal proceedings over the poster's design. 
 
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Human Rights

Algeria's government continued to fail to account for thousands of persons who disappeared in detention during the 1990s. Other significant human rights problems included restrictions on political party activity limiting the right to change the government peacefully; reports of abuse and torture; official impunity; prolonged pretrial detention; limited judicial independence; denial of fair, public trials; restrictions on civil liberties, including freedom of speech, press, assembly, and especially association; security-based restrictions on movement; limitations on religious freedom, including increased regulation of non-Muslim worship; corruption and lack of government transparency; discrimination against women; and restrictions on workers' rights.

 
According to Human Rights Watch, in 2009, Algerian authorities banned public gatherings, such as outdoor demonstrations and seminars organized by human rights organizations which had previously been allowed despite a 2000 ban on demonstrations. 
 
Armed groups committed a significant number of abuses against civilians, government officials, and members of security forces.
 
Enforced "disappearances," reportedly numbering in the thousands, were a significant problem during the 1990s, and the families of the missing people are still demanding investigations..
 
NGO and local human rights activists reported that government officials employed torture and other inhuman tactics and that the members of the military intelligence service's Department of Information and Security (DRS) frequently used torture to obtain confessions. Government officials can face prison sentences of up to 20 years for committing torture, but impunity remained a problem.
 
The judiciary was not fully independent and impartial in civil matters, and particularly lacks independence in human rights and political cases. Family connections and status of the parties involved reportedly influenced decisions. Individuals may bring lawsuits and there are administrative processes related to the amnesty, which may provide damages for human rights violations and compensation for alleged wrongs.
 
According to the US department of state, “the government actively monitored the communications of political opponents, journalists, human rights groups, and suspected terrorists. The DRS and other security officials reportedly searched homes without a search warrant.”
 
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press; however, the government restricted these rights in practice through harassment and informal pressure on publishers, editors, and journalists. Journalists also risked prison terms for defamation. 
 
Individuals generally were able to criticize the government privately without reprisal. However, citizens generally self-censored public criticism. The government attempted to impede criticism by monitoring political meetings.
 
The government monitored email and Internet chatrooms and, in some cases, prosecuted persons for content published on personal Web sites. State law specifies measures to be taken to ensure content control of Web sites, with the objective to prevent access to material "incompatible with morality or public opinion." Academic freedom generally was restricted in the same manner as freedom of expression.
 
The constitution declares Islam to be the state religion and prohibits institutions from engaging in behavior incompatible with Islamic morality. The constitution does not provide explicitly for religious freedom and the government's interpretation of Shari'a does not recognize conversion from Islam to any other religion. The constitution declares freedom of belief to be inviolable and declares the equality of all citizens. However, the government began enforcing a law which increased restrictions on non-Muslim worship by requiingd religious groups to register with the government, controlling the importation of religious texts, and treating individuals who proselytize Muslims as criminal offenders rather than as civil defenders. It also contains a clause against discrimination on the basis of any citizen's condition or circumstance, whether personal or societal. The constitution prohibits non-Muslims from running for the presidency. In practice, the government restricted religious freedom.
 
According to reports from human rights organizations and churches, the government ordered the closure of 27 churches in 2008. Religious leaders were pressured or arrested for proselytizing to Muslims. The Catholic Church is the only non-Islamic religious group officially registered to operate in the country. Other churches have pending registration requests but local government officials reportedly refused to accept registration documents. 
 
 
 
Multiparty parliamentary elections were held on May 17 for the lower house on the basis of universal suffrage, but not all political parties were allowed full access to the electoral process. The Islamist party Islah was disqualified on the ground that its leader had not been elected in a recent party congress. Voter turnout was low, officially 36% of the electorate with unofficial sources reporting levels at less than 25%, marking the lowest voter turnout since the advent of multiparty democracy in 1989.
 
The government continued to restrict and harass some local NGOs and impeded the work of international NGOs. The government interfered with attempts by some domestic and international human rights groups to investigate and publish their findings. Although some human rights groups were allowed to move about freely, the most active and visible organizations reported interference by government authorities, including surveillance and monitoring of telephone calls, difficulty in securing meeting spaces, and difficulty in obtaining approval for international speakers to speak on sensitive issues.
 
Spousal rape is not illegal under Algerian law. Spousal abuse occurred as well. The law states that a person must be incapacitated for 15 days or more and present a doctor's note certifying the injuries before filing charges for battery. Because of societal pressures, however, women frequently were reluctant to endure this process. Claims filed by women for rape and sexual abuse rarely were investigated or brought to justice.
 
Child abuse is illegal but continued to be a problem. NGOs that specialized in the care of children cited continued instances of domestic violence against children, which they attributed to the "culture of violence" developed since the civil conflict of the 1990s and the social dislocations caused by the movement of rural families to the cities to escape terrorist violence. Experts assumed that many cases went unreported because of familial reticence.
 
“The law does not prohibit trafficking in persons and officials consider the issue covered by existing laws on illegal migration. The country was a transit and destination country for men, women, and children from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. The government did not acknowledge trafficking to be a problem, but saw it as part of the larger issue of illegal immigration. According to the government, in the absence of specific antitrafficking laws, other laws against illegal immigration, prostitution, and forced labor are used to enforce anti-trafficking standards.”
 
The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status in accordance with the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees; however, there were no reports that the government granted refugee status and asylum to new refugee applicants during the year. The government did not accept refugee status for individuals from sub-Saharan Africa fleeing conflict and many were deported after trials without legal counsel.
 
There was widespread social discrimination against persons with disabilities. Laws prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or the provision of other state services. No government buildings were accessible to persons with disabilities. The Ministry of National Solidarity maintained that there were 1.5 million persons with disabilities in the country. However, according to the Algerian Federation of Wheelchair Associations (AFWA), there were three million persons with disabilities living in the country.
 
The law criminalizes public homosexual behavior and there is no specific legal protection of homosexuals in the country. There was also generally societal discrimination against homosexuals, but not violence or official discrimination. While some homosexuals lived openly, the vast majority did not.
 
HIV/AID is considered a shameful disease in the country and according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health, 2,100 citizens were HIV-positive and 736 persons suffered from HIV/AIDS.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Robert S. Ford earned a Bachelor of Arts from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Arts from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins in 1983. Following his graduation, Ford served with the Peace Corps in Morocco. Ford entered the Senior Foreign Service in 1985. He has served in posts such as Izmir, Cairo, Algiers, and Yaounde. Ford was Deputy Chief of Mission in Bahrain from 2001 until 2004, as well as the Coalition Provisional Authority Najaf, Iraq (from August to December 2003). He also served as political counselor to the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq from 2004 to 2006. He speaks German, Turkish, French, and Arabic.

Note: Embassy Algiers was established Sep 29, 1962, with William J. Porter as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.
 
William J. Porter
Appointment: Nov 29, 1962
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 17, 1962
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 29, 1965
 
John D. Jernegan
Appointment: Jul 22, 1965
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 13, 1965
Termination of Mission: Algeria severed diplomatic relations with U.S., Jun 6, 1967
Note: Jernegan left post Jun 10, 1967.
 
Note: A U.S. Interests Section was established in the Swiss Embassy. Principal Officers were: Lewis Hoffacker (Sep 1967-Nov 1969) and William L. Eagleton, Jr. (Dec. 1969-Jul 1974).
 
Richard B. Parker
Appointment: Dec 18, 1974
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 17, 1975
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 12, 1977
Note: Embassy Algiers was re-established Nov 12, 1974, with Richard B. Parker as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.
 
Ulric St. Clair Haynes, Jr.
Appointment: May 11, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 13, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post Jan 28, 1981
 
Michael H. Newlin
Appointment: Sep 28, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 28, 1981
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 21, 1985
 
L. Craig Johnstone
Appointment: Jul 12, 1985
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 9, 1985
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 10, 1988
 
Christopher W.S. Ross
Appointment: Aug 12, 1988
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 20, 1988
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 14, 1991
 
Mary Ann Casey
Appointment: Jul 2, 1991
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 8, 1991
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 19, 1994
 
Ronald E. Neumann
Appointment: Jul 5, 1994
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 18, 1994
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 19, 1997
 
Cameron R. Hume
Appointment: Nov 10, 1997
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 28, 1997
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 13, 2000
 
Janet A. Sanderson
Appointment: Sep 15, 2000
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 30, 2000
Termination of Mission: Left post May 13, 2003
 
Richard W. Erdman
Appointment: May 23, 2003
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 26, 2003
Termination of Mission: Left post January 9, 2006
 
Robert S. Ford
Appointment: May 30, 2006
Presentation of Credentials: September 4, 2006
Termination of Mission: 2008
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Algeria's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Baali, Abdallah

Abdallah Baali has served as Algeria's ambassador to the United States since Nov 5, 2008.

 
Baali received diplomas from the Diplomatic Section of the National School of Administration in Algiers and a diploma in contemporary American politics from New York University. He is fluent in Arabic, French, Spanish and English.
 
Baali is a career diplomat who has served in many capacities. From 1977 to 1982, he served as the head of the Political Affairs Division, after which he served as a member of the Algerian Permanent Mission to the United Nations (1982-1989). While working at the UN, Baali was the president of the 6th Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, a member of the Monterrey Strategy Group on Nonproliferation, vice president of the 54th and 59th sessions of the UN General Assembly, as well as special envoy to Central and Latin America. He was the advisor to the minister for Arab Maghreb and European affairs (1989-1990), head of the Information and Documentation Division and spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1990-1992). 
 
From 1992-1996, Baali served as Algeria's ambassador to a number of nations, including Australia, New Zealand and Brunei. From 1996 to 2005, he continued his work at the United Nations, serving as permanent representative (2004-2005) and president of the UN Security Council (December 2004). Most recently, Baali served as ambassador advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
 

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Algeria's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Algeria

Pearce, David
ambassador-image

A native of Portland, Maine, David D. Pearce serves as the US Ambassador to Algeria. He was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the US Senate on May 27, 2008 and sworn in on August 11, 2008. 

 
Born in Portland, Maine, on June 9, 1950, Pearce grew up in Falmouth and attended Cheverus High School. Pearce received his Bachelor of Arts in classics from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine in 1972 and a Master of Arts in journalism from Ohio State University a year later. Following his graduation, he worked as a reporter and foreign correspondent from 1973 to 1979. The publications he worked for include the Associated Press in Ohio, the Rome Daily American in Italy, the United Press International in Brussels, Lisbon and Beirut. He then moved to The Washington Post, where he worked as a copy editor on both the foreign and metro desks, and from 1980 to 1981 was a writer-editor in the book service of the National Geographic Society.
 
In January 1982, Peace entered the Foreign Service. His first position was vice consul and political officer in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He was a watch officer in the State Department Operations Center (1984-1985), and a country desk officer for Greece (1985-1987). In 1987, he studied Arabic at the Foreign Service Institute field school in Tunis. He became chief of the political section at the US Embassy in Kuwait and, during the Gulf War, he served as a liaison officer with the Kuwaiti government-in-exile. He returned to Washington in 1991 and worked as a special assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
 
From 1992 to 1993, Pearce took a sabbatical leave to write a book on diplomacy and media entitled Wary Partners: Diplomats and the Media, published in 1994.
 
Upon his return to the foreign service, he served as the Consul General in Dubai (1994-1997), then as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Damascus (1997-2001). He was the Director of the Department of State's Office of Northern Gulf Affairs with responsibility for Iraq and Iran (2001-2003), and he served with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad in 2003. He was Chief of Mission and Consul General at the US Consulate General in Jerusalem (2003-2005), and Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy in Rome (2005-2008), where he also made excursion tours to Iraq as a senior advisor to Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
 

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Overview

Algeria borders the Mediterranean Sea between Morocco and Tunisia in Northern Africa. Though originally settled by the Berbers in the 5th Century BC, Algeria was conquered by a number of ruling powers, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Arabs, Turkish and French. Byzantine Arabs brought the Islamic faith to the region, and the country remains 99% Muslim today. Though Algeria earned its freedom from French colonialists in 1962, infighting among hard-line Islamist parties and more moderate factions led to violence and terrorist attacks that lasted throughout the 1990s. Since the US terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, however, Algeria has stepped forward to work with the US in thwarting terrorism worldwide. Though the country has been cited for numerous human rights violations over the years, officials from the United States and other nations have met with Algerian leaders to affect an open-door trade policy and agreements to work toward shared international goals.

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: A part ofthe Maghreb, or western part of Arab North Africa, Algeria borders the Mediterranean Sea, between Morocco and Tunisia. Algeria is more than three times the size of Texas. Its name is Arabic for “the islands,” and it is believed to be a reference to the 998 kilometers of coastline beside the rocky islands of the Mediterranean. The country is mostly high plateau and desert with some mountains. The Sahara desert covers 80 percent of the entire country.

 
Population: 34,760,000 (2009)
 
Religions: Islam is the state religion, and 99% of Algerians are Sunni Muslim. It has been estimated that there are less than 5,000 non-Muslim residents in Algeria.
 
Ethnic Groups: Arabs comprise the majority of the population. Berbers represent one-fifth of the Algerian population, and Europeans are less than one percent. 
 
Languages: Arabic (official), French, and about 17 Berber dialects, including Kabyle, Korandje, Tachawit, Tachelhit, Tagargrent, Tamahaq, Tamazight, Tarifit, Taznatit, and Tumzabt.
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History

The Berbers, a people from the northern part of Africa, first populated Algeria in the 5th Century BC. The Berbers were influenced by Carthaginians, Romans, and Byzantines. However, several other powers, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Arabs, Turkish and French, all conquered the area in successive waves.

 
The Romans urbanized Algeria and maintained a military presence there in the second century. Algeria was ruled next by Vandals, a Germanic tribe, who were in turn conquered by Byzantine Arabs, who brought the Islamic faith to the region. Beginning in the early 16th Century, Algeria was part of the Ottoman Empire for 300 years, and became a distinct province between Tunisia and Morocco. European nations, and eventually the United States, were required to pay tribute to these countries of North Africa, which ruled the shipping lanes of the Mediterranean until the French invaded Algeria in 1830. 
 
Though the borders of Algeria have shifted throughout history, the French established the borders recognized today in 1830. Most the French colonists were farmers and businessmen seeking new opportunities in Algeria. So to benefit them, France organized Algeria into overseas departments of the home country, with representatives in the French National Assembly. This gave France control over the country, while still keeping the traditional Muslim population separated from the modern economic infrastructure of the European community.
 
However, the Algerian rights movement gained ground over the next few decades, and in November of 1954, Algerians began to rise up against the French colonialists. A small group of nationalists called the National Liberation Front (FLN) launched a small guerilla war targeting civilians and utilizing brutal tactics.
 
The war went on for several years, until France and the FLN signed a cease-fire on March 18, 1962 at Evian, France. The Evian Accords provided for continuing economic, financial, technical and cultural relationships, as well as interim administrative needs until the fledgling country could hold its first referendum. One million French citizens living in Algeria, called the pieds-noirs (black feet), returned to France at this time.
 
On July 1, 1962, Algeria held a referendum, and France officially recognized Algeria as a sovereign nation on July 3. Ahmed Ben Bella was elected as the nation's first president in September of 1962, and on September 8, a new constitution was adopted by referendum.
 
On June 19, 1965, President Ben Bella was overthrown in a non-violent coup, and replaced with the Council of the Revolution, headed by the Minister of Defense Col. Houari Bomediene. Eventually, Ben Bella was imprisoned and then sent into exile. 
 
During his term, Bomediene created many changes that brought Algeria into modern times. His death, on December 27, 1978, brought that era to an end.
 
Col. Chadli Bendjedid was elected president in 1979, then re-elected in 1984 and 1988. Under his rule, a new constitution was adopted in 1989 that allowed other political parties (other than the FLN) to be created. More than 50 new parties registered, one of which was the militant Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), which quickly gained popularity and won 55 percent of the vote in local elections in 1990. The armed forces, which had run the government since the days of Boumediene, was removed from power, and enjoyed a diminished role in the government.
 
Under pressure from the Western democracies, the Algerian government announced parliamentary elections in 1991. The first round of elections took place in December 1991. The FIS won more 47% of the votes and seemed certain to win an outright majority in the second round, to be held in January. The military considered this outcome unacceptable and cancelled the second round of the electoral process. The cancellation sparked a decade-long civil war between FIS and the army.
 
The National People's assembly was dissolved by presidential decree on January 4, 1992, possibly in a move to undercut the FIS' growing power base. President Bendjedid, faced with political pressure from all sides, resigned on January 11, and on January 14, the High Council of Security appointed a five-member High Council of State to act as a collegiate presidency. Elections were cancelled.
 
This, combined with economic and political turmoil in the region, led to violent reactions from FIS. Mohamed Boudiaf, a hero of the Liberation War, was welcomed back to Algeria by the military on January 16, after 28 years in exile. He served as Algeria's fourth president, and immediately took control of the FIS offices in early February 1992. Due to violence and terrorism, the High Council of State declared a state of emergency. In March, the courts decided to disband the FIS party. Arrests and trials of FIS members followed, with more than 50,000 former FIS members serving time.
 
The remaining FIS activists launched a guerrilla war against the government, targeting soldiers and policemen. However, the guerrillas soon began targeting civilians as well, and it became clear that the FIS did not have control over the guerrillas. Factions emerged among the fighters, dividing them into the Islamic Armed Movement (MIA), the Movement for an Islamic State (MEI), and the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). The MIA and MEI, which would later unite as the Islamic Salvation Army, focused on developing an military strategy against the Algerian government, and their attacks targeted security services and state institutions. The GIA concentrated on urban areas and targeted anyone who supported the state, including government workers such as teachers and civil servants. A breakaway GIA group - the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC)—also launched terrorist attacks. More than 100,000 Algerians died as a result of this violence.
 
The violence became increasingly frequent and random. President Boudiaf was assassinated on June 29, 1992, in front of television cameras capturing his visit to Annaba. Army Lt. Lembarek Boumarafi, his assassin, confessed to the killing on behalf of the Islamists.
 
Violence and terrorism continued in Algeria throughout the 1990s. In 1994, the High Council of State appointed Liamine Zeroual, former Minister of Defense, as Head of State. He served a three-year term, and began negotiations with the imprisoned FIS leadership. His negotiations split the political spectrum between those who wanted compromise, such as the FLN and FFS, and those who were considered the “eradicators,” including the the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA). Pro-government “eradicator” paramilitaries emerged, notably the Organization of Young Free Algerians (OJAL), and launched attacks against against civilian Islamist supporters.  
 
Zeroual called for presidential elections in 1995, although some parties objected to holding elections that excluded the FIS. Zeroual was elected president with 75% of the vote. By 1997, in an attempt to bring political stability to the nation, the National Democratic Rally (RND) party was formed by a progressive group of FLN members. Plans for political stability were thwarted by a series a massacres between April 1997 and December 1998. The GIA claimed credit for the worst of the massacres and is indisputably considered responsible for all of them. The areas south and east of Algiers, which had supported FIS in 1991, were especially hard hit; guerrillas targeted entire villages or neighborhoods, killing regardless of age or sex. They called their killings an “offering to God.” Army barracks were stationed within a few hundred meters of the villages, yet did nothing to stop the massacres. The massacres were condemned by other rebel groups as well as by leaders within the GIA, many of whom left the GIA to form the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). 
 
 In September 1998, President Liamine Zeroual announced that he would step down in February 1999, 21 months before the end of his term. He agreed to hold presidential elections at this time.
 
In April of 1999, Algerians were to vote for one of seven candidates, but on the eve of the election, all candidates except Abdelaziz Bouteflika pulled out amid charges of widespread electoral fraud. Bouteflika had the backing of the military, as well as the FLN and the RND parties. He won the election, with 70% of votes cast, and was inaugurated on April 27, 1999 for a 5-year term.
 
President Bouteflika's agenda was focused around bringing security back to Algeria, and immediately after being sworn in, he announced an amnesty plan for those who had previously fought against the government. The only exceptions were those who had committed "blood crimes," such as rape or murder. This was known as the Civil Concord policy and was approved overwhelmingly in a national referendum in September 2000. Government estimates say that 80% of those offered the civil concord have accepted it. Bouteflika also launched national commissions to study education and judicial reform, and restructured the state bureaucracy. 
 
In 2001, Berber activists in the Kabylie region of the country, reacting to the death of a youth in gendarme custody, unleashed a resistance campaign. The group organized strikes and demonstrations, and demanded that Tamazight (a general term for Berber languages) be recognized as an official language in Algeria, as well as recognition and financial compensation for the deaths of Kabyles killed in demonstrations. These activists also demanded an economic development plan for the area, and greater control over their own regional affairs. 
In October of 2001, the Tamazight language was officially recognized as a national language. However, the group has remained at odds with the government, since Tamazight has not been recognized as an official language. 
 
On April 8, 2004, Algerians once again headed to the polls to elect a new president. Five candidates, including one woman, ran against sitting President Bouteflika. Opposition candidates complained of unfair advantages in the election, including President Bouteflika's daily appearances on national, state-owned television, and Bouteflika was re-elected in the first round of the election, with 84.99% of the vote. Approximately 58% of the electorate participated in the election.
 
Since that election, the security situation in Algeria has improved. Though the country still suffers from terrorist violence. In April 2007, a series of bombings in Algiers killed 33 people in a government facility and police station. Additionally, suicide bombers targeted a military barracks on July 11, killing eight soldiers. Algerian security forces retaliated and killed the leader of those attacks in July.
 
In September 2005, Algeria passed a referendum in favor of President Bouteflika's Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation. This makes it possible for new legislation to be passed that could grant clemency or pardons to those convicted of armed terrorist violence. The new charter builds upon the Civil Concord, and the Rahma (clemency) Law shields from prosecution anyone who laid down arms in response to those previous amnesty offers. The Charter specifically excludes from amnesty those involved in mass murders, rapes, or the use of explosives in public places.
 
The charter was implemented in March 2006, and the window for combatants to receive amnesty expired in September 2006. Approximately 2,500 Islamists were released under the charter. Many of them are now suspected of having returned to militant groups in Algeria.
Algerian History (Algerie Online)
History of Algeria (Wikipedia)
Algeria – History (Encyclopedia of the Nations)
Country Profile: Algeria (Library of Congress) {pdf}
Country Study: Algeria (Library of Congress)
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Algeria's Newspapers

Algeria Daily

Le Jour d'Algerie (In French)
Ech-Chaab (In Arabic)
El Massa (In Arabic)
El Moudjahid (In French)
El Watan (In French)
El Youm (In Arabic)
Ennahar Online
Horizons (In French)
Jeune Independant (In French)
L'Expression (In French)
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History of U.S. Relations with Algeria

 

The United States and Algeria have endured a rocky relationship since the beginning of US history. European maritime powers paid tributes demanded by the rulers of the privateering states of North Africa (Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, and Morocco) to prevent attacks on their shipping by corsairs. No longer covered by British tribute payments after the American Revolution, US merchant ships were seized and sailors enslaved, launching the Barbary Wars.
 
In 1794, the US Congress appropriated funds for the construction of warships to deal with the privateering threat, but three years later it concluded a treaty with the ruler of Algiers, guaranteeing payment of tribute amounting to $10 million over a 12-year period. Payments in ransom and tribute to the privateering states amounted to 20% of US government annual revenues in 1800.
 
In March 1815, Congress authorized naval action against the Barbary States and the then-independent Muslim states of Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. Commodore Stephen Decatur captured Algierian ships, which gave him bargaining power, and concluded a favorable treaty that the Algerian ruler repudiated shortly after. 
 
The United States and Algeria continued to have competing foreign policy objectives. Algeria's commitment to strict socialism, along with the Islamists' commitment to a global revolution against Western capitalism and imperialism, antagonized relations with the United States. Following the Algerian War of Independence, the United States maintained good relations with France instead of with Algeria.
 
Following the June 1967 war with Israel, Algeria broke diplomatic relations with the United States in 1967, and US-Algerian relations remained hostile throughout the 1970s. A number of incidents aggravated the tenuous relationship between the two countries. These included the American intervention in Vietnam and other developing countries, Algerian sponsorship of guerrilla and radical revolutionary groups, American sympathies for Morocco in the Western Sahara, and continued support for Israel by the United States. Algeria's policy of allowing aid and landing clearance at Algerian airports for hijackers also angered the US government.
 
In the 1980s, increased American demands for energy and a growing Algerian need for capital and technical assistance resulted in increased interaction between the two countries. In 1980, the United States imported more than $2.8 billion worth of oil from Algeria, and was Algeria's largest export market.
 
Algeria's role as intermediary in the release of the 52 US hostages from Iran in January 1981, and its retreat from a militant role in the developing world, also encouraged better relations with the United States. In 1990, Algeria received $25.8 million in financial assistance and bought $1 billion in imports from the United States, indicating that the United States had become an important international partner. On January 13, 1992, following the military coup that upset Algeria's burgeoning democratic system, the United States issued a formal but low-key statement condemning the military takeover. The next day, State Department spokesmen retracted the statement, calling for a peaceful resolution, but offering no condemnation of the coup. Since then, the United States has accepted a military dictatorship in Algeria. The military government has opened the country to foreign trade.
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Current U.S. Relations with Algeria

 

Noted Algerian-American
Zaida Ben-Yusuf was a key figure in the development of fine art photography. Her work fell into obscurity, but was reintroduced in 2008 as the subject of an exhibition at the Smithsonian. She is the daughter of a German mother and Algerian father.
 
AlgerianPresident Bouteflika visited the White House in July 2001, the first since 1985. An additional meeting, in November 2001, as well as meetings in New York in September 2003 and President Bouteflika's participation at the June 2004 G8 Sea Island Summit, have demonstrated Algeria's willingness to engage in talks opening the country to foreign investment.
 
The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US began a new dialogue with Algeria. Since that time, the two countries have worked together to find common ground to diminish terrorist violence. Algeria publicly condemned the attacks and has been supportive of US efforts to combat terrorism worldwide. In April 2006, then-Foreign Minister Bedjaoui met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to discuss mutual goals.
 
In July 2001, the United States and Algeria signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement that established operating principles and provided a basis for negotiating a bilateral trade treaty (BIT) and a free-trade treaty (FTA). In 2002, Algeria hosted an African Union summit on terrorism and an international conference on crime and counterterrorism. The country is also working on an extradition treaty with the United States, and has actively sought to combat terrorist financing. The FY 2002 Budget Request included $200,000 in IMET for Algeria, an increase from the previous year. 
 
Within the framework of the U.S.-North African Economic Partnership (USNAEP), the United States provided about $1 million in technical assistance to Algeria in 2003. This program supported and encouraged Algeria's economic reform program, and included support for World Trade Organization accession negotiations, debt management, and improving the investment climate. In 2003, USNAEP programs were rolled over into Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) activities, which provide funding for political and economic development programs in Algeria. In March 2004, President Bush designated Algeria a beneficiary country for duty-free treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).
 
In May 2005, the United States and Algeria conducted their first formal joint military dialogue in Washington, DC. The second joint military dialogue took place in Algiers in November 2006. The NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander, US European Command, General James L. Jones visited Algeria in June and August 2005, and then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited Algeria in February 2006. The United States and Algeria have also conducted bilateral naval and Special Forces exercises, and Algeria has hosted U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ship visits. In addition, the United States has a modest International Military Education and Training (IMET) Program ($824,000 in FY 2006) for training Algerian military personnel in the United States, and Algeria participates in the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP). The FY20010 budget requested an IMET allocation of $950,000 for Algeria.
 
In August 2005, then-Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Richard G. Lugar, led a Presidential Mission to Algeria and Morocco to oversee the release of the remaining 404 Moroccan POWs held by the Polisario Front in Algeria. Their release removed a longstanding bilateral obstacle between Algeria and Morocco.
 
Initial funding through the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) has been allocated to support the work of Algeria's developing civil society through programming that provides training to journalists, businesspersons, legislators, Internet regulators, and the heads of leading nongovernmental organizations. Additional funding through the State Department's Human Rights and Democracy Fund will assist civil society groups focusing on the issues of the disappeared, and Islam and democracy.
 
Despite improving ties, the US and Algeria still strongly disagree about issues in the Middle East, including Iraq, Syria, Israel and Sudan. Algerian officials condemned the invasion of Iraq and called for the early withdrawal of foreign troops. 
 
The official US presence in Algeria is expanding following over a decade of limited staffing, reflecting the general improvement in the security environment. During the past three years, the American Embassy has moved toward more normal operations and now provides most embassy services to the American and Algerian communities.
 
According to the 2000 US Census, there were approximately 8,752 people of Algerian ancestry living in the United States.
 
The U.S. and Algeria (U.S. State Department)
Algeria (Center for Defense Information)
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Where Does the Money Flow

In 2009, the US imported approximately $10.7 billion in goods from Algeria. Oil, liquefied petroleum gases, other petroleum products, and natural gases account for more than 99% of US imports from Algeria. While these imports grew steadily from 2003 to 2008, they all dropped sharply in 2009. American imports of crude oil from Algeria grew from $1.3 billion in 2003 to $11.5 billion in 2007, but dropped down to $6.25 billion in 2009. Liquified petroleum gases, which was at an all-time high in 2008 at $4.7 billion, declined to $2.0 billion, and other petroleum gases fell from $561 million to $213 million.

 
US imports from Algeria from 2008 to 2009 on the upswing included fruits and preparations, including frozen juices, up from $615,000 to $751,000, other tobacco, waxes, nonfood oil, which increased from $0 to $1.4 million, and stone, sand, cement and lime, growing from $316,000 to $1.6 million.
 
Other US imports on the decline from 2008 to 2009 included other precious metals, down from $101,000 to $45,000, other industrial machinery, decreasing from $100,000 to $0, and toiletries and cosmetics, decreasing from $3.4 million to $0.
 
The US exported an estimated 1.1 billion in goods to Algeria. The United States' primary export to Algeria include drilling and oilfield equipment at $204.7 million, industrial engines at $77.7 million, and other industrial machines at $83.5 million.
 
US exports to Algeria on the rise from 2008 to 2009 included parts for military type goods, which increased from $2.2 million to $12.6 million, writing and art supplies, moving up from $723,000 to $2.2 million, nuts, increasing from $12.1 million to $27.4 million, other iron and steel products, growing from $8.4 million to $22.1 million, and plastic materials, which increased from $44.8 million to $51.1 million. The US also exported $14.9 million in fuel oil back to Algeria.
 
Most American exports were on the decline from 2008 to 2009, including telecommunications equipment, which moved down from $92.4 million to $24.5 million, generators and accessories, decreasing from $30.2 million to $15.2 million, metallurgical grade coal, declining from $28.4 million to $11.2, oilseed, foodoils, dropping from 8\$80. 7 million to 58.6 million, and corn, decreasing from $69.9 million to $16.2.
 
In FY 2005, the State Department authorized the export of defense articles and services valued at $53,908,081 for Algeria. In FY 2007, the State Department authorized the export of defense articles and services valued at $128,798,618.
 
The budget request for fiscal year 20010 included $2.4 million for peace and security. This money is used to cultivate Algeria as a partner in “fighting global terrorism,” meaning it is used for programs such as the following: Joint Military Dialogue, Joint Military Exercises, International Military Education and Training, Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership and $500,000 to the Terrorist Interdiction Program. About $800,000 is allotted for “Governing Justly and Democratically,” in an effort to develop a more democratic system of government. An additional $500,000 was requested for “Economic Growth.” 
 
The FY 2010 budget requests $950,000 for International Military Education and Training (IMET) and $950,000 for Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR).
 
In June 2005, the United States government implemented the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative (TSCTI) in Algeria to assist the Algerian government in controlling its borders and reducing terrorism. TSCTI is the successor program to the Pan Sahel Initiative, a program launched after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The TSCTI provides training to Algerian forces in communications, land navigation, patrolling, planning and medical care. The TSCTI will receive approximately $100 million annually for five years. 
 
Also in 2005, the United States provided approximately $4.4 million in economic assistance to Algeria under the Middle East Partner Initiative (MEPI) and International Military Education and Training program (IMET). The MEPI program focuses on improving education and economic, political and women’s rights in Algeria. Under the IMET program, United States provides funding for military training dealing with counter-narcotics law enforcement, civil-military relations, defense management and military justice.
 
In 2006, Algeria was again the recipient of a grant under the Ambassadors' Fund for Cultural Preservation. That fund provided a grant of $106,110 to restore the El Pacha Mosque in Oran. Algeria also received an $80,000 grant to fund microscholarships to design and implement an American English-language program for Algerian high school students in four major cities.
 
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Controversies

French Campaign Poster, “Islamist Threat,” Directed at Algeria

In March 2010, France's far-right party, Front National (FN), distributed an election poster depicting a map of France covered in the Algerian flag covered with minarets and featuring a threatening woman whose face is hidden behind a “niqab” face veil. The slogan across the poster reads “Non à l'Islamisme,” “No to Islam.” The poster is a central part of FN's campaign in the Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur region in the south of France, but appeared on placards, walls and motorway bridges across the country. FN claims that the posters are a protest only against extreme forms of Islam, but critics say the use of the Algerian flag and minarets is a clear attempt to stir up anti-Islamic and anti-Arab feelings. French anti-racist groups failed to get an injunction against the distribution of the posters, and Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci made an official complaint to the French government demanding it to “take firm measures to prevent the symbols of foreign nations from being insulted.” FN leader Jean-Marie Le Pen is scheduled to appear in court on May 6th for criminal proceedings over the poster's design. 
 
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Human Rights

Algeria's government continued to fail to account for thousands of persons who disappeared in detention during the 1990s. Other significant human rights problems included restrictions on political party activity limiting the right to change the government peacefully; reports of abuse and torture; official impunity; prolonged pretrial detention; limited judicial independence; denial of fair, public trials; restrictions on civil liberties, including freedom of speech, press, assembly, and especially association; security-based restrictions on movement; limitations on religious freedom, including increased regulation of non-Muslim worship; corruption and lack of government transparency; discrimination against women; and restrictions on workers' rights.

 
According to Human Rights Watch, in 2009, Algerian authorities banned public gatherings, such as outdoor demonstrations and seminars organized by human rights organizations which had previously been allowed despite a 2000 ban on demonstrations. 
 
Armed groups committed a significant number of abuses against civilians, government officials, and members of security forces.
 
Enforced "disappearances," reportedly numbering in the thousands, were a significant problem during the 1990s, and the families of the missing people are still demanding investigations..
 
NGO and local human rights activists reported that government officials employed torture and other inhuman tactics and that the members of the military intelligence service's Department of Information and Security (DRS) frequently used torture to obtain confessions. Government officials can face prison sentences of up to 20 years for committing torture, but impunity remained a problem.
 
The judiciary was not fully independent and impartial in civil matters, and particularly lacks independence in human rights and political cases. Family connections and status of the parties involved reportedly influenced decisions. Individuals may bring lawsuits and there are administrative processes related to the amnesty, which may provide damages for human rights violations and compensation for alleged wrongs.
 
According to the US department of state, “the government actively monitored the communications of political opponents, journalists, human rights groups, and suspected terrorists. The DRS and other security officials reportedly searched homes without a search warrant.”
 
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press; however, the government restricted these rights in practice through harassment and informal pressure on publishers, editors, and journalists. Journalists also risked prison terms for defamation. 
 
Individuals generally were able to criticize the government privately without reprisal. However, citizens generally self-censored public criticism. The government attempted to impede criticism by monitoring political meetings.
 
The government monitored email and Internet chatrooms and, in some cases, prosecuted persons for content published on personal Web sites. State law specifies measures to be taken to ensure content control of Web sites, with the objective to prevent access to material "incompatible with morality or public opinion." Academic freedom generally was restricted in the same manner as freedom of expression.
 
The constitution declares Islam to be the state religion and prohibits institutions from engaging in behavior incompatible with Islamic morality. The constitution does not provide explicitly for religious freedom and the government's interpretation of Shari'a does not recognize conversion from Islam to any other religion. The constitution declares freedom of belief to be inviolable and declares the equality of all citizens. However, the government began enforcing a law which increased restrictions on non-Muslim worship by requiingd religious groups to register with the government, controlling the importation of religious texts, and treating individuals who proselytize Muslims as criminal offenders rather than as civil defenders. It also contains a clause against discrimination on the basis of any citizen's condition or circumstance, whether personal or societal. The constitution prohibits non-Muslims from running for the presidency. In practice, the government restricted religious freedom.
 
According to reports from human rights organizations and churches, the government ordered the closure of 27 churches in 2008. Religious leaders were pressured or arrested for proselytizing to Muslims. The Catholic Church is the only non-Islamic religious group officially registered to operate in the country. Other churches have pending registration requests but local government officials reportedly refused to accept registration documents. 
 
 
 
Multiparty parliamentary elections were held on May 17 for the lower house on the basis of universal suffrage, but not all political parties were allowed full access to the electoral process. The Islamist party Islah was disqualified on the ground that its leader had not been elected in a recent party congress. Voter turnout was low, officially 36% of the electorate with unofficial sources reporting levels at less than 25%, marking the lowest voter turnout since the advent of multiparty democracy in 1989.
 
The government continued to restrict and harass some local NGOs and impeded the work of international NGOs. The government interfered with attempts by some domestic and international human rights groups to investigate and publish their findings. Although some human rights groups were allowed to move about freely, the most active and visible organizations reported interference by government authorities, including surveillance and monitoring of telephone calls, difficulty in securing meeting spaces, and difficulty in obtaining approval for international speakers to speak on sensitive issues.
 
Spousal rape is not illegal under Algerian law. Spousal abuse occurred as well. The law states that a person must be incapacitated for 15 days or more and present a doctor's note certifying the injuries before filing charges for battery. Because of societal pressures, however, women frequently were reluctant to endure this process. Claims filed by women for rape and sexual abuse rarely were investigated or brought to justice.
 
Child abuse is illegal but continued to be a problem. NGOs that specialized in the care of children cited continued instances of domestic violence against children, which they attributed to the "culture of violence" developed since the civil conflict of the 1990s and the social dislocations caused by the movement of rural families to the cities to escape terrorist violence. Experts assumed that many cases went unreported because of familial reticence.
 
“The law does not prohibit trafficking in persons and officials consider the issue covered by existing laws on illegal migration. The country was a transit and destination country for men, women, and children from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. The government did not acknowledge trafficking to be a problem, but saw it as part of the larger issue of illegal immigration. According to the government, in the absence of specific antitrafficking laws, other laws against illegal immigration, prostitution, and forced labor are used to enforce anti-trafficking standards.”
 
The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status in accordance with the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees; however, there were no reports that the government granted refugee status and asylum to new refugee applicants during the year. The government did not accept refugee status for individuals from sub-Saharan Africa fleeing conflict and many were deported after trials without legal counsel.
 
There was widespread social discrimination against persons with disabilities. Laws prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or the provision of other state services. No government buildings were accessible to persons with disabilities. The Ministry of National Solidarity maintained that there were 1.5 million persons with disabilities in the country. However, according to the Algerian Federation of Wheelchair Associations (AFWA), there were three million persons with disabilities living in the country.
 
The law criminalizes public homosexual behavior and there is no specific legal protection of homosexuals in the country. There was also generally societal discrimination against homosexuals, but not violence or official discrimination. While some homosexuals lived openly, the vast majority did not.
 
HIV/AID is considered a shameful disease in the country and according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health, 2,100 citizens were HIV-positive and 736 persons suffered from HIV/AIDS.
 
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Past Ambassadors

Robert S. Ford earned a Bachelor of Arts from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Arts from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins in 1983. Following his graduation, Ford served with the Peace Corps in Morocco. Ford entered the Senior Foreign Service in 1985. He has served in posts such as Izmir, Cairo, Algiers, and Yaounde. Ford was Deputy Chief of Mission in Bahrain from 2001 until 2004, as well as the Coalition Provisional Authority Najaf, Iraq (from August to December 2003). He also served as political counselor to the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq from 2004 to 2006. He speaks German, Turkish, French, and Arabic.

Note: Embassy Algiers was established Sep 29, 1962, with William J. Porter as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.
 
William J. Porter
Appointment: Nov 29, 1962
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 17, 1962
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 29, 1965
 
John D. Jernegan
Appointment: Jul 22, 1965
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 13, 1965
Termination of Mission: Algeria severed diplomatic relations with U.S., Jun 6, 1967
Note: Jernegan left post Jun 10, 1967.
 
Note: A U.S. Interests Section was established in the Swiss Embassy. Principal Officers were: Lewis Hoffacker (Sep 1967-Nov 1969) and William L. Eagleton, Jr. (Dec. 1969-Jul 1974).
 
Richard B. Parker
Appointment: Dec 18, 1974
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 17, 1975
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 12, 1977
Note: Embassy Algiers was re-established Nov 12, 1974, with Richard B. Parker as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.
 
Ulric St. Clair Haynes, Jr.
Appointment: May 11, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 13, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post Jan 28, 1981
 
Michael H. Newlin
Appointment: Sep 28, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 28, 1981
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 21, 1985
 
L. Craig Johnstone
Appointment: Jul 12, 1985
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 9, 1985
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 10, 1988
 
Christopher W.S. Ross
Appointment: Aug 12, 1988
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 20, 1988
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 14, 1991
 
Mary Ann Casey
Appointment: Jul 2, 1991
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 8, 1991
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 19, 1994
 
Ronald E. Neumann
Appointment: Jul 5, 1994
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 18, 1994
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 19, 1997
 
Cameron R. Hume
Appointment: Nov 10, 1997
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 28, 1997
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 13, 2000
 
Janet A. Sanderson
Appointment: Sep 15, 2000
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 30, 2000
Termination of Mission: Left post May 13, 2003
 
Richard W. Erdman
Appointment: May 23, 2003
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 26, 2003
Termination of Mission: Left post January 9, 2006
 
Robert S. Ford
Appointment: May 30, 2006
Presentation of Credentials: September 4, 2006
Termination of Mission: 2008
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Algeria's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Baali, Abdallah

Abdallah Baali has served as Algeria's ambassador to the United States since Nov 5, 2008.

 
Baali received diplomas from the Diplomatic Section of the National School of Administration in Algiers and a diploma in contemporary American politics from New York University. He is fluent in Arabic, French, Spanish and English.
 
Baali is a career diplomat who has served in many capacities. From 1977 to 1982, he served as the head of the Political Affairs Division, after which he served as a member of the Algerian Permanent Mission to the United Nations (1982-1989). While working at the UN, Baali was the president of the 6th Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, a member of the Monterrey Strategy Group on Nonproliferation, vice president of the 54th and 59th sessions of the UN General Assembly, as well as special envoy to Central and Latin America. He was the advisor to the minister for Arab Maghreb and European affairs (1989-1990), head of the Information and Documentation Division and spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1990-1992). 
 
From 1992-1996, Baali served as Algeria's ambassador to a number of nations, including Australia, New Zealand and Brunei. From 1996 to 2005, he continued his work at the United Nations, serving as permanent representative (2004-2005) and president of the UN Security Council (December 2004). Most recently, Baali served as ambassador advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
 

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Algeria's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Algeria

Pearce, David
ambassador-image

A native of Portland, Maine, David D. Pearce serves as the US Ambassador to Algeria. He was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the US Senate on May 27, 2008 and sworn in on August 11, 2008. 

 
Born in Portland, Maine, on June 9, 1950, Pearce grew up in Falmouth and attended Cheverus High School. Pearce received his Bachelor of Arts in classics from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine in 1972 and a Master of Arts in journalism from Ohio State University a year later. Following his graduation, he worked as a reporter and foreign correspondent from 1973 to 1979. The publications he worked for include the Associated Press in Ohio, the Rome Daily American in Italy, the United Press International in Brussels, Lisbon and Beirut. He then moved to The Washington Post, where he worked as a copy editor on both the foreign and metro desks, and from 1980 to 1981 was a writer-editor in the book service of the National Geographic Society.
 
In January 1982, Peace entered the Foreign Service. His first position was vice consul and political officer in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He was a watch officer in the State Department Operations Center (1984-1985), and a country desk officer for Greece (1985-1987). In 1987, he studied Arabic at the Foreign Service Institute field school in Tunis. He became chief of the political section at the US Embassy in Kuwait and, during the Gulf War, he served as a liaison officer with the Kuwaiti government-in-exile. He returned to Washington in 1991 and worked as a special assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
 
From 1992 to 1993, Pearce took a sabbatical leave to write a book on diplomacy and media entitled Wary Partners: Diplomats and the Media, published in 1994.
 
Upon his return to the foreign service, he served as the Consul General in Dubai (1994-1997), then as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Damascus (1997-2001). He was the Director of the Department of State's Office of Northern Gulf Affairs with responsibility for Iraq and Iran (2001-2003), and he served with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad in 2003. He was Chief of Mission and Consul General at the US Consulate General in Jerusalem (2003-2005), and Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy in Rome (2005-2008), where he also made excursion tours to Iraq as a senior advisor to Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
 

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