The defence spending hike comes despite significant cuts to overall spending as Algiers looks to rein in a 2011 and 2012 spending splurge, intended to stave off domestic calls for political reform in the wake of the ‘Arab Spring’ revolutions in neighboring Libya and Tunisia and nearby Egypt.

The budget – including the defense spending hike – was drawn up before last month’s terrorist attack on the In Amenas gas plant, which signaled the potential vulnerability of such facilities to attacks by militant groups such as al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Algeria has since said it will review already tight security at its oil and gas facilities, many of which are at remote Saharan locations (ee p16). (CONTINUED - 1967 WORDS)