Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

THE WORLD FROM.Algiers Improved US Image Here Is Sign of Strong Desire among Algerians to Get Their Country Working Again

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

THE WORLD FROM.Algiers Improved US Image Here Is Sign of Strong Desire among Algerians to Get Their Country Working Again

Article excerpt

A JOKE is going around Algiers that is giving people here a much-needed laugh.

According to the story, former Algerian President Chadli Benjedid, who resigned earlier this month under pressure from the military for his handling of the country's democratization process, is still in office when the following conversation with President Bush takes place.

"Mr. President," says Mr. Bush, "give me the Algerian desert and in 10 years I'll turn it into California."

"Very well, Mr. President," replies Mr. Benjedid. "You give me California - and in one year I'll turn it into the Algerian desert."

The joke paints with biting sarcasm average Algerians' low esteem for a 30-year-old regime - of which Benjedid was only the latest representative - which they hold responsible for the waste and destruction of the country's natural wealth.

But it also suggests the increasingly positive image the United States has here. It is a striking shift from the mood during last year's Gulf war, when the streets of Algiers were full of anti-US protesters, and then-Foreign Minister Sid Ahmed Ghozali was warning that President Bush's "new world order" promised instead "disorder" and danger for the developing world.

The more positive tone toward the US is in part a swinging back of the pendulum. "Don't be misled by the dusty graffiti singing for Saddam," says Abdelkarim, a hardware merchant in central Algiers. "Algerians want their country working again, and they hope the Americans will help that happen."

These days Algerians' own preoccupations are much closer than Baghdad, and now as prime minister, Mr. Ghozali has more imminent problems than a theoretical world order.

Algeria's decade-long encounter with Islamic fundamentalism appeared on the verge of turning the country into a strict Islamic republic after the December election victory of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.