History of Algeria

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Much of the history of Algeria has taken place on the fertile coastal plain of North Africa, which is often called the Maghreb (or Maghrib). North Africa served as a transit region for people moving towards Europe or the Middle East, thus, the region's inhabitants have been influenced by populations from other areas, including the Carthaginians, Romans, and Vandals. The region was conquered by the Muslims in the early 8th century AD, but broke off from the Umayyad Caliphate after the Berber Revolt of 740. During the Ottoman period, Algeria became an important city in the Mediterranean sea which led to many naval conflicts. The last significant events in the country's recent history have been the Algerian War and Algerian Civil War.


Evidence of the early human occupation of Algeria is demonstrated by the discovery of 1.8 million year old Oldowan stone tools found at Ain Hanech in 1992.[1] In 1954 fossilised Homo erectus bones were discovered by C. Arambourg at Ternefine that are 700,000 years old. Neolithic civilization (marked by animal domestication and subsistence agriculture) developed in the Saharan and Mediterranean Maghrib between 6000 and 2000 BC. This type of economy, richly depicted in the Tassili n'Ajjer cave paintings in southeastern Algeria, predominated in the Maghrib until the classical period.


Phoenician traders arrived on the North African coast around 900 BC and established Carthage (in present-day Tunisia) around 800 BC. During the classical period, Berber civilization was already at a stage in which agriculture, manufacturing, trade, and political organization supported several states. Trade links between Carthage and the Berbers in the interior grew, but territorial expansion also resulted in the enslavement or military recruitment of some Berbers and in the extraction of tribute from others.

The Carthaginian state declined because of successive defeats by the Romans in the Punic Wars, and in 146 BC, the city of Carthage was destroyed. As Carthaginian power waned, the influence of Berber leaders in the hinterland grew.

By the 2nd century BC, several large but loosely administered Berber kingdoms had emerged. After that, king Masinissa managed to unify Numidia under his rule.[2][3][4]

Roman empire[edit]

Madghacen was a king[5] of independent kingdoms of the Numidians, between 12 and 3 BC.

Christianity arrived in the 2nd century. By the end of the 4th century, the settled areas had become Christianized, and some Berber tribes had converted en masse.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Algeria came under the control of the Vandal Kingdom. Later, the Eastern Roman Empire (also known as the Byzantine Empire) conquered Algeria from the Vandals, incorporating it into the Praetorian prefecture of Africa and later the Exarchate of Africa.

Middle Ages[edit]

From the 8th century Umayyad conquest of North Africa led by Musa bin Nusayr, Arab colonization started. The 11th century invasion of migrants from the Arabian peninsula brought oriental tribal customs. The introduction of Islam and Arabic had a profound impact on North Africa. The new religion and language introduced changes in social and economic relations, and established links with the Arab world through acculturation and assimilation.

Berber dynasties[edit]

According to historians of the Middle Ages, the Berbers are divided into two branches, both are from their ancestor Mazigh. The two branches Botr and Barnès are divided into tribes, and each Maghreb region is made up of several tribes. The large Berber tribes or peoples are Sanhaja, Houara, Zenata, Masmuda, Kutama, Awarba, Barghawata ... etc. Each tribe is divided into sub tribes. All these tribes have independence and territorial decisions.[6]

Several Berber dynasties emerged during the Middle Ages: - In North Africa, Sudan, in Andalusia, Italy, in Mali, Niger, Senegal and Egypt. Ibn Khaldoun made a table of Berber dynasties: Zirid, Banu Ifran, Maghrawa, Almoravid, Hammadid, Almohad Caliphate, Marinid, Zayyanid, Wattasid, Meknes, Hafsid dynasty.[6]

The invasion of the Banu Hilal Arab tribes in 11th century, sacked Kairouan, and the area under Zirid control was reduced to the coastal region, and the Arab conquests fragmented into petty Bedouin emirates.[1]

Medieval Muslim Algeria[edit]

Coin of the Hafsids with ornemental Kufic, Bougie, Algeria, 1249–1276.

The second Arab military expeditions into the Maghreb, between 642 and 669, resulted in the spread of Islam. The Umayyads (a Muslim dynasty based in Damascus from 661 to 750) recognised that the strategic necessity of dominating the Mediterranean dictated a concerted military effort on the North African front. By 711 Umayyad forces helped by Berber converts to Islam had conquered all of North Africa. In 750 the Abbasids succeeded the Umayyads as Muslim rulers and moved the caliphate to Baghdad. Under the Abbasids, Berber Kharijites Sufri Banu Ifran were opposed to Umayyad and Abbasids. After, the Rustumids (761–909) actually ruled most of the central Maghrib from Tahirt, southwest of Algiers. The imams gained a reputation for honesty, piety, and justice, and the court of Tahirt was noted for its support of scholarship. The Rustumid imams failed, however, to organise a reliable standing army, which opened the way for Tahirt's demise under the assault of the Fatimid dynasty.

With their interest focused primarily on Egypt and Muslim lands beyond, the Fatimids left the rule of most of Algeria to the Zirids and Hammadid (972–1148), a Berber dynasty that centered significant local power in Algeria for the first time, but who were still at war with Banu Ifran (kingdom of Tlemcen) and Maghraoua (942-1068).[7] This period was marked by constant conflict, political instability, and economic decline. Following a large incursion of Arab Bedouin from Egypt beginning in the first half of the 11th century, the use of Arabic spread to the countryside, and sedentary Berbers were gradually Arabised.

The Almoravid ("those who have made a religious retreat") movement developed early in the 11th century among the Sanhaja Berbers of southern Morocco. The movement's initial impetus was religious, an attempt by a tribal leader to impose moral discipline and strict adherence to Islamic principles on followers. But the Almoravid movement shifted to engaging in military conquest after 1054. By 1106, the Almoravids had conquered the Maghreb as far east as Algiers and Morocco, and Spain up to the Ebro River.

Like the Almoravids, the Almohads ("unitarians") found their inspiration in Islamic reform. The Almohads took control of Morocco by 1146, captured Algiers around 1151, and by 1160 had completed the conquest of the central Maghrib. The zenith of Almohad power occurred between 1163 and 1199. For the first time, the Maghrib was united under a local regime, but the continuing wars in Spain overtaxed the resources of the Almohads, and in the Maghrib their position was compromised by factional strife and a renewal of tribal warfare.

In the central Maghrib, the Abdalwadid founded a dynasty that ruled the Kingdom of Tlemcen in Algeria. For more than 300 years, until the region came under Ottoman suzerainty in the 16th century, the Zayanids kept a tenuous hold in the central Maghrib. Many coastal cities asserted their autonomy as municipal republics governed by merchant oligarchies, tribal chieftains from the surrounding countryside, or the privateers who operated out of their ports. Nonetheless, Tlemcen, the "pearl of the Maghrib," prospered as a commercial center.

Christian reconquest of Spain[edit]

The final triumph of the 700-year Christian reconquest of Spain was marked by the fall of Granada in 1492. Christian Spain imposed its influence on the Maghrib coast by constructing fortified outposts and collecting tribute. But Spain never sought to extend its North African conquests much beyond a few modest enclaves. Privateering was an age-old practice in the Mediterranean, and North African rulers engaged in it increasingly in the late 16th and early 17th centuries because it was so lucrative. Until the 17th century the Barbary pirates used galleys, but a Dutch renegade of the name of Zymen Danseker taught them the advantage of using sailing ships.[8]

Algeria became the privateering city-state par excellence, and two privateer brothers were instrumental in extending Ottoman influence in Algeria. At about the time Spain was establishing its presidios in the Maghrib, the Muslim privateer brothers Aruj and Khair ad Din—the latter known to Europeans as Barbarossa, or Red Beard—were operating successfully off Tunisia. In 1516 Aruj moved his base of operations to Algiers but was killed in 1518. Khair ad Din succeeded him as military commander of Algiers, and the Ottoman sultan gave him the title of beylerbey (provincial governor).

Spanish enclaves[edit]

The Spanish expansionist policy in North Africa begun with the Catholic Monarchs and the regent Cisneros, once the Reconquista in the Iberian Peninsula was finished. That way, several towns and outposts in the Algerian coast were conquered and occupied: Mers El Kébir (1505), Oran (1509), Algiers (1510) and Bugia (1510). The Spanish conquest of Oran was won with much bloodshed: 4,000 Algerians were massacred, and up to 8,000 were taken prisoner. For about 200 years, Oran's inhabitants were virtually held captive in their fortress walls, ravaged by famine and plague; Spanish soldiers, too, were irregularly fed and paid.[9]

The Spaniards left Algiers in 1529, Bujia in 1554, Mers El Kébir and Oran in 1708. The Spanish returned in 1732 when the armada of the Duke of Montemar was victorious in the Battle of Aïn-el-Turk and retook Oran and Mers El Kébir; the Spanish massacred many Muslim soldiers.[10] In 1751, a Spanish adventurer, named John Gascon, obtained permission, and vessels and fireworks, to go against Algiers, and set fire, at night, to the Algerian fleet. The plan, however, miscarried. In 1775, Charles III of Spain sent a large force to attack Algiers, under the command of Alejandro O'Reilly (who had led Spanish forces in crushing French rebellion in Louisiana), resulting in a disastrous defeat. The Algerians suffered 5,000 casualties.[11] The Spanish navy bombarded Algiers in 1784; over 20,000 cannonballs were fired, much of the city and its fortifications were destroyed and most of the Algerian fleet was sunk.[12]

Oran and Mers El Kébir were held until 1792, when they were sold by the king Charles IV to the Bey of Algiers.

Ottoman era[edit]

Under Khair ad Din's regency, Algiers became the center of Ottoman authority in the Maghrib. For 300 years, Algeria was a Vassal state of the Ottoman Empire under a regency that had Algiers as its capital (see Dey). Subsequently, with the institution of a regular Ottoman administration, governors with the title of pasha ruled. Turkish was the official language. In 1671 a new leader took power, adopting the title of dey. In 1710 the dey persuaded the sultan to recognize him and his successors as regent, replacing the pasha in that role.

Although Algiers remained a part of the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman government ceased to have effective influence there.[citation needed] European maritime powers paid the tribute demanded by the rulers of the privateering states of North Africa (Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, and Morocco) to prevent attacks on their shipping. The Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century diverted the attention of the maritime powers from suppressing piracy. But when peace was restored to Europe in 1815, Algiers found itself at war with Spain, the Netherlands, Prussia, Denmark, Russia, and Naples. Algeria and surrounding areas, collectively known as the Barbary States, were responsible for piracy in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the enslaving of Christians, actions which brought them into the First and Second Barbary War with the United States of America.

French rule[edit]

19th century colonialism[edit]

French conquest of Algeria
France Ottoman Empire
Arabs and Berbers
Casualties and losses
3,336 killed in action[13]
92,329 dead from disease
825,000 killed

North African boundaries have shifted during various stages of the conquests. The borders of modern Algeria were expanded by the French, whose colonization began in 1830 (French invasion began on July 5). To benefit French colonists (many of whom were not in fact of French origin but Italian, Maltese, and Spanish) and nearly the entirety of whom lived in urban areas, northern Algeria was eventually organized into overseas departments of France, with representatives in the French National Assembly. France controlled the entire country, but the traditional Muslim population in the rural areas remained separated from the modern economic infrastructure of the European community.

Chronological map of the conquest of Algeria (1830-1956)

As a result of what the French considered an insult to the French consul in Algiers by the Day in 1827, France blockaded Algiers for three years. In 1830, France invaded and occupied the coastal areas of Algeria, citing a diplomatic incident as casus belli. Hussein Dey went into exile. French colonization then gradually penetrated southwards, and came to have a profound impact on the area and its populations. The European conquest, initially accepted in the Algiers region, was soon met by a rebellion, led by Abdel Kadir, which took roughly a decade for the French troops to put down after the "pacification campaign", in which the French used chemical weapons, mass executions of civilians and prisoners, concentration camps and many other atrocities.[14] By 1848 nearly all of northern Algeria was under French control, and the new government of the French Second Republic declared the occupied lands an integral part of France. Three "civil territories"—Algiers, Oran, and Constantine—were organized as French départements (local administrative units) under a civilian government.

In addition to enduring the affront of being ruled by a foreign, non-Muslim power, many Algerians lost their lands to the new government or to colonists. Traditional leaders were eliminated, coopted, or made irrelevant, and the traditional educational system was largely dismantled; social structures were stressed to the breaking point. From 1856, native Muslims and Jews were viewed as French subjects not citizens.

However, in 1865, Napoleon III allowed them to apply for full French citizenship, a measure that few took, since it involved renouncing the right to be governed by sharia law in personal matters, and was considered a kind of apostasy; in 1870, the Crémieux Decree made French citizenship automatic for Jewish natives, a move which largely angered many Muslims, which resulted in the Jews being seen as the accomplices of the colonial power by anti-colonial Algerians. Nonetheless, this period saw progress in health, some infrastructures, and the overall expansion of the economy of Algeria, as well as the formation of new social classes, which, after exposure to ideas of equality and political liberty, would help propel the country to independence.

During the colonization france focused on eradicating the local culture by destroying hundreds years old palaces and important buildings. It is estimated that around half of Algiers, a city founded in the 10th century, was destroyed. Many segragatory laws were levied against the Algerians and their culture.

Rise of Algerian nationalism and French resistance[edit]

A new generation of Islamic leadership emerged in Algeria at the time of World War I and grew to maturity during the 1920s and 1930s. Various groups were formed in opposition to French rule, most notable the National Liberation Front (FLN) and the National Algerian Movement.

Poster to garner Algerian support for the struggle in France during World War 2. "France is speaking to you" with clippings from French Resistance newspapers from 1942 and 1943

Colons (colonists), or, more popularly, pieds noirs (literally, black feet) dominated the government and controlled the bulk of Algeria's wealth. Throughout the colonial era, they continued to block or delay all attempts to implement even the most modest reforms. But from 1933 to 1936, mounting social, political, and economic crises in Algeria induced the indigenous population to engage in numerous acts of political protest. The government responded with more restrictive laws governing public order and security. Algerian Muslims rallied to the French side at the start of World War II as they had done in World War I. But the colons were generally sympathetic to the collaborationist Vichy regime established following France's defeat by Nazi Germany. After the fall of the Vichy regime in Algeria (November 11, 1942) as a result of Operation Torch, the Free French commander in chief in North Africa slowly rescinded repressive Vichy laws, despite opposition by colon extremists.

Algerian victims of the Sétif and Guelma massacre, 1945

In March 1943, Muslim leader Ferhat Abbas presented the French administration with the Manifesto of the Algerian People, signed by 56 Algerian nationalist and international leaders. The manifesto demanded an Algerian constitution that would guarantee immediate and effective political participation and legal equality for Muslims. Instead, the French administration in 1944 instituted a reform package, based on the 1936 Viollette Plan, that granted full French citizenship only to certain categories of "meritorious" Algerian Muslims, who numbered about 60,000. In April 1945 the French had arrested the Algerian nationalist leader Messali Hadj. On May 1 the followers of his Parti du Peuple Algérien (PPA) participated in demonstrations which were violently put down by the police. Several Algerians were killed. The tensions between the Muslim and colon communities exploded on May 8, 1945, V-E Day, causing the Sétif and Guelma massacre. When a Muslim march was met with violence, marchers rampaged. The army and police responded by conducting a prolonged and systematic ratissage (literally, raking over) of suspected centers of dissidence. According to official French figures, 1,500 Muslims died as a result of these countermeasures. Other estimates vary from 6,000 to as high as 45,000 killed. Many nationalists drew the conclusion that independence could not be won by peaceful means, and so started organizing for violent rebellion.

In August 1947, the French National Assembly approved the government-proposed Organic Statute of Algeria. This law called for the creation of an Algerian Assembly with one house representing Europeans and "meritorious" Muslims and the other representing the remaining 8 million or more Muslims. Muslim and colon deputies alike abstained or voted against the statute but for diametrically opposed reasons: the Muslims because it fell short of their expectations and the colons because it went too far.

Algerian War of Independence (1954–1962)[edit]

Algerian men, women and children kept and forced into labour at S'Bara. Over 2 million Algerians were interned in French concentration camps.[15]

The Algerian War of Independence (1954–1962), brutal and long, was the most recent major turning point in the country's history. Although often fratricidal, it ultimately united Algerians and seared the value of independence and the philosophy of anticolonialism into the national consciousness.

Abusive tactics of the French Army remains a controversial subject in France to this day. Deliberate illegal methods were used, such as beatings, mutilations, hanging by the feet or hands, torture by electroshock, waterboarding, sleep deprivation and sexual assaults, among others.[16][17][18][19] French war crimes against Algerian civilians were also committed, including mass bombings and shootings of civilians, rape and disembowelment or decapitation of women, murdering children by slitting their throats or banging their heads against walls, imprisonment without food in small cells, throwing prisoners out of helicopters to their death or into the sea with concrete on their feet, and burying people alive.[16][20][21][22][23]

In the early morning hours of November 1, 1954, the National Liberation Front (Front de Libération Nationale—FLN) launched attacks throughout Algeria in the opening salvo of a war of independence. An important watershed in this war was the massacre of civilians by the FLN near the town of Philippeville in August 1955. The government claimed it killed 1,273 guerrillas in retaliation; according to the FLN, 12,000 Muslims perished in an orgy of bloodletting by the armed forces and police, as well as colon gangs. After Philippeville, all-out war began in Algeria. The FLN fought largely using guerrilla tactics whilst the French counter-insurgency tactics often included severe reprisals and repression.

Eventually, protracted negotiations led to a cease-fire signed by France and the FLN on March 18, 1962, at Evian, France. The Evian accords also provided for continuing economic, financial, technical, and cultural relations, along with interim administrative arrangements until a referendum on self-determination could be held. The Evian accords guaranteed the religious and property rights of French settlers, but the perception that they would not be respected led to the exodus of one million pieds-noirs and harkis.

Between 350,000 and 1 million Algerians are estimated to have died during the war, and more than 2 million, out of a total Muslim population of 9 or 10 million, were made into refugees or forcibly relocated into government-controlled camps. Much of the countryside and agriculture was devastated, along with the modern economy, which had been dominated by urban European settlers (the pied-noirs). French sources estimated that at least 70,000 Muslim civilians were killed or abducted and presumed killed, by the FLN during the Algerian War. Nearly one million people of mostly French, Spanish and Italian[24] descent were forced to flee the country at independence due to the unbridgeable rifts opened by the civil war and threats from units of the victorious FLN; along with them fled most Algerians of Jewish descent and those Muslim Algerians who had supported a French Algeria (harkis). 30–150,000 pro-French Muslims were also killed in Algeria by FLN in post-war reprisals.[25]

Independent Algeria[edit]

Ben Bella presidency (1962–65)[edit]

The referendum was held in Algeria on 1 July 1962, and France declared Algeria independent on 3 July. On 8 September 1963, a constitution was adopted by referendum, and later that month, Ahmed Ben Bella was formally elected the first president, after receiving support from the military, led by Houari Boumediène. The war for independence and its aftermath had severely disrupted Algeria's society and economy. In addition to the physical destruction, the exodus of the colons deprived the country of most of its managers, civil servants, engineers, teachers, physicians, and skilled workers. The homeless and displaced numbered in the hundreds of thousands, many suffering from illness, and some 70 percent of the workforce was unemployed.[26]

The months immediately following independence witnessed the pell-mell rush of Algerians, their government, and its officials to claim the property and jobs left behind by the Europeans. In the 1963 March Decrees, Ben Bella declared that all agricultural, industrial, and commercial properties previously owned and operated by Europeans were vacant, thereby legalizing confiscation by the state. A new constitution drawn up under close FLN supervision was approved by nationwide referendum in September 1963, and Ben Bella was confirmed as the party's choice to lead the country for a five-year term.

The military played an important role in Ben Bella's administration. Since Ben Bella recognized the role that the military played in bringing him to power, Ben Bella appointed senior officers as ministers and other important positions within the new state, including naming Boumediène as the defence minister.[27] They played a core role into implementing the country's security and foreign policy.

Under the new constitution, Ben Bella as president combined the functions of chief of state and head of government with those of supreme commander of the armed forces. He formed his government without needing legislative approval and was responsible for the definition and direction of its policies. There was no effective institutional check on its powers. Opposition leader Hocine Aït-Ahmed quit the National Assembly in 1963 to protest the increasingly dictatorial tendencies of the regime and formed a clandestine resistance movement, the Front of Socialist Forces (Front des Forces Socialistes—FFS) dedicated to overthrowing the Ben Bella regime by force.

Late summer 1963 saw sporadic incidents attributed to the FFS. More serious fighting broke out a year later. The army moved quickly and in force to crush the rebellion. As minister of defense, Houari Boumédienne had no qualms about sending the army to put down regional uprisings because he felt they posed a threat to the state. Ben Bella also attempted to co-opt allies from among some of those regionalists, in order to undermine the ability of military commanders to influence foreign and security policy. Tensions increased between Houari Boumédienne and Ahmed Ben Bella. In 1965 the military toppled Ahmed Ben Bella, and Houari Boumedienne became head of state.

The 1965 coup and the Boumédienne military regime[edit]

Newsreel film about the Algerian economy in 1972

On 19 June 1965, Houari Boumédienne deposed Ahmed Ben Bella in a military coup d'état that was both swift and bloodless. Ben Bella "disappeared", and would not be seen again until he was released from house arrest in 1980 by Boumédienne's successor, Colonel Chadli Bendjedid. Boumédienne immediately dissolved the National Assembly and suspended the 1963 constitution. Political power resided in the Council of the Revolution, a predominantly military body intended to foster cooperation among various factions in the army and the party.

Houari Boumédienne's position as head of government and of state was initially not secure partly because of his lack of a significant power base outside the armed forces; he relied strongly on a network of former associates known as the Oujda group (after his posting as ALN leader in the Moroccan border town of Oujda during the war years), but he could not fully dominate the fractious regime. This situation may have accounted for his deference to collegial rule.

Over Boumédienne's 11-year reign as the Chairman of the Revolutionary Council, it introduced two formal mechanisms, such as the People's Municipal Assembly (Assemblée Populaires Communales) and the People's Provincial Assembly (Assemblée Populaires de Wilaya) for popular participation in politics. Under his rule, leftist and socialist concepts are merged into Islam.

Boumédienne also used Islam opportunistically to consolidate his power.[28] On one side, he made token concessions and cosmetic changes, such as appointing Ahmed Taleb Ibrahimi in charge of national education in 1965, or adopting policies like criminalizing gambling, establishing Friday as the national holiday and dropping plans to introduce birth control to paint an Islamic image of the new government. But on the other hand, the government also repressed Islamic groups progressively, such as ordering the dissolution of Al Qiyam.

Following attempted coups—most notably that of chief-of-staff Col. Tahar Zbiri in December 1967—and a failed assassination attempt in (April 25, 1968), Boumédienne consolidated power and forced military and political factions to submit. He took a systematic, authoritarian approach to state building, arguing that Algeria needed stability and an economic base before any political institutions.

Eleven years after Houari Boumédienne took power, after much public debate, a long-promised new constitution was promulgated in November 1976. The Constitution restored the National Popular Assembly and it was given legislative, consent and oversight functions.[29] Boumédienne was later elected president with 95 percent of the cast votes.

Bendjedid rule (1978–92), the 1992 Coup d'État and the rise of the civil war[edit]

Boumédienne's death on December 27, 1978 set off a struggle within the FLN to choose a successor. To break a deadlock between two candidates, Colonel Chadli Bendjedid, a moderate who had collaborated with Boumédienne in deposing Ahmed Ben Bella, was sworn in on February 9, 1979. He was re-elected in 1984 and 1988. After the violent 1988 October Riots, a new constitution was adopted in 1989 that allowed the formation of political associations other than the FLN. It also removed the armed forces, which had run the government since the days of Boumédienne, from a role in the operation of the government.

Among the scores of parties that sprang up under the new constitution, the militant Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was the most successful, winning more than 50% of all votes cast in municipal elections in June 1990 as well as in first stage of national legislative elections held in December 1991.

The surprising first round of success for the fundamentalist FIS party in the December 1991 balloting caused the army to discuss options to intervene, as officers feared that an Islamist government would interfere their positions and core interests in economic, national security and foreign policy, since the FIS has promised to make a fundamental re-haul of the social, political and economical structure to achieve their radical Islamist agenda. Senior military figures, such as Defence Minister Khaled Nezzar, Chief of the General Staff Abdelmalek Guenaizia and other leaders of the navy, Gendarmerie and security services, all agreed that the FIS should be stopped from gaining power from the polling box. They also agreed that Bendjedid would need to be removed from office because he was the biggest obstacle to achieving the plan, due to his determination to hold the second round of ballots. If Bendjedid resigns, not only it will remove the obstacle to the military's plan, it would also suspend the second ballot.[30]

On 11 January 1992, Bendjedid announced his resignation on national television, saying it was necessary to "protect the unity of the people and the security of the country".[31] Later on the same day, the High Council of State (Haut Comité d'Etat, HCE), which was composed of five people (including Nezzar, Tedjini Haddam, Ali Kafi, Mohamed Boudiaf and Ali Haroun), was appointed to carry out duties of the President.

The new government, led by Sid Ahmed Ghozali also banned all political activity at mosques and begin turning away people from attending prayers at the popular mosques. The FIS was legally dissolved by Interior Minister Larbi Belkheir on 9 February, for attempting "insurrections against the state".[30] A state of emergency was also declared and extraordinary powers, such as curtailing the right to associate, were installed on the regime.

Between January and March, a growing number of FIS militants were arrested by the military, including Abdelkader Hachani and his successors to the FIS leadership, Othman Aissani and Rabah Kebir were also detained.[30] Following the announcement to dissolve the FIS and implementing a state of emergency on 9 February, security forces used their new powers to conduct large scale arrests of FIS members and housed them in 5 "detention centers" in the Sahara. Between 5000 (official number) to 30,000 (FIS number) people were detained.[30]

The fundamentalist response has resulted in a continuous low-grade, conflict, the Algerian Civil War, with the secular state apparatus, which nonetheless has allowed elections featuring pro-government and moderate religious-based parties. This civil war lasted until 2002.

Civil War and Bouteflika (1992–2019)[edit]

After Chadli Bendjedid was removed from the presidency in the coup of 1992, a series of figureheads were selected by the military to assume the presidency, as officers were reluctant to assume public political power, even though they have manifested control over the country. It was because the military's senior leaders felt a need to give a civilian face to the new political regime they had hastily constructed in the aftermath of the ousting of Chadli and the termination of elections, and therefore their preference for a civilian face to front the regime.[32]

The first of such was Mohamed Boudiaf, who was appointed president of the HCE in February 1992 after a 27-year exile in Morocco. However, Boudiaf quickly came to odds with the military, as attempts by the Boudiaf to appoint his own staff or forming a political party were viewed with suspicion by officers. Boudiaf also launch initiatives, such as a rigorous anti-corruption campaign in April 1992 and sacking Khaled Nezzar from his post as Defence Minister, which was seen by the military as an attempt to remove their influence, because a genuine campaign could implicate many senior figures who benefited massively and illegally from the system for many years.[32] He was assassinated in June 1992 by one of his bodyguards with Islamist sympathies.

Ali Kafi temporary assumed the HCE presidency after Boudiaf's death, before Liamine Zéroual was appointed to be a long-term replacement in 1994. However, Zéroual only remained in office for four years before he announced his retirement, as he became embroiled with a clan warfare within the upper classes of the military and fell out with groups of more senior generals.[32] Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Boumedienne's foreign minister succeeded as the president.

After the civil war ended, presidential elections were held again in April 1999. Although seven candidates qualified for election, all but Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has the support of the military as well as the FLN, withdrew on the eve of the election amid charges of electoral fraud and interference from the military. Bouteflika went on to win with 70 percent of the cast votes.

But the civilian government in immediate post 1999 only acts as 'hijab' to run day-to-day businesses, while the military still runs the country behind the scenes, as ministerial mandates to individuals were only granted with the military's approval, while different factions of the military invested in various political parties and press to use them as pawns to gain influence.[32]

The military's influence over politics decreased gradually, leaving Bouteflika with more authority on deciding policy. One reason for such was the senior commanders who dominated the political scene during the 1960s and 1970s started to retire. But Bouteflika's former experiences as Boumedienne's foreign minister earned him connections that rejuvenated Algeria's international reputation that was tarnished in the early 1990s. On the domestic front, Bouteflika's policy of 'national reconciliation' to bring a close to violence earned him a popular mandate that helped him to win further terms in 2004, 2009 and 2014.[33]

In 2019, after 30 years in office, Bouteflika announced in February that he would seek a fifth term of office. This sparked widespread discontent around Algeria and protests in Algiers for the first time since the civil war. Despite later attempts at saying he would resign after his term finished in late April, Bouteflika resigned on 2 April, after the chief of the army, Ahmed Gaid Salah, made a declaration that he was "unfit for office".[34]

Despite Gaid Salah being loyal to Bouteflika, many in the military identify with civilians, as nearly 70 percent of the army are conscripts who are required to serve for 18 months.[35] Since demonstrators demand a change to the whole system, army officers aligned themselves with demonstrators in the hopes of surviving the revolution and retaining their own positions.

See also[edit]



1.^ The indigenous peoples of northern Africa were identified by the Romans as Berbers, a word derived from the word Barbare or Barbarian, but they prefer being called "Imazighen". 2. ^ On the Banu Hilal invasion, see Ibn Khaldoun (v.1).


  1. ^ "The Site of Ain Hanech Revisited: New Investigations at this Lower Pleistocene Site in Northern Algeria" (PDF). Gi,ulpgc.es. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-05-10. Retrieved 2017-06-24.
  2. ^ Slimani-Direche, Karina (1997). Histoire de l'émigration kabyle en France au XXe siécle: réalités ... - Karina Slimani-Direche - Google Livres. ISBN 9782738457899. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  3. ^ Les cultures du Maghreb De Maria Angels Roque, Paul Balta, Mohammed Arkoun
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  7. ^ Ibn Khaldun, History of Berber, party Zenata and Sanhadja
  8. ^ Ekin, Des (2012). The Stolen Village: Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates. The O'Brien Press. ISBN 9781847174314.
  9. ^ Ring, Trudy (2014). Middle East and Africa: International Dictionary of Historic Places. Routledge. p. 558.
  10. ^ Middle East and Africa: International Dictionary of Historic Places. Routledge. 2014. p. 559.
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  19. ^ Text published in Vérité Liberté n°9 May 1961.
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Further reading[edit]

  • Ageron, Charles Robert, and Michael Brett. Modern Algeria: A History from 1830 to the Present (1992)
  • Bennoune, Mahfoud (1988). The Making of Contemporary Algeria – Colonial Upheavals and Post-Independence Development, 1830–1987. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-30150-3.
  • Derradji, Abder-Rahmane. The Algerian Guerrilla Campaign, Strategy & Tactics (The Edwin Mellen Press, 1997).
  • Derradji, Abder-Rahmane. A Concise History of Political Violence in Algeria: Brothers in Faith Enemies in Arms (2 vol. The Edwin Mellen Press, 2002),
  • Horne, Alistair. A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 (2006)
  • Laouisset, Djamel (2009). A Retrospective Study of the Algerian Iron and Steel Industry. New York City: Nova Publishers. ISBN 978-1-61761-190-2.
  • Le Sueur, James D. (2010). Algeria since 1989: between terror and democracy. Global history of the present. Halifax [N.S.] : London ; New York: Fernwood Pub. ; Zed Books. ISBN 9781552662564.
  • McDougall, James. (2017) A history of Algeria (Cambridge UP, 2017).
  • Roberts, Hugh (2003). The Battlefield – Algeria, 1988–2002. Studies in a Broken Polity. London: Verso Books. ISBN 978-1-85984-684-1.
  • Ruedy, John (1992). Modern Algeria – The Origins and Development of a Nation. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-34998-9.
  • Sessions, Jennifer E. By Sword and Plow: France and the Conquest of Algeria (Cornell University Press; 2011) 352 pages
  • Stora, Benjamin (2004). Algeria, 1830-2000 : a short history. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 9780801489167.
  • Sidaoui, Riadh (2009). "Islamic Politics and the Military – Algeria 1962–2008". Religion and Politics – Islam and Muslim Civilisation. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 0-7546-7418-5.

Historiography and memory[edit]

  • Branche, Raphaëlle. "The martyr's torch: memory and power in Algeria." Journal of North African Studies 16.3 (2011): 431–443.
  • Cohen, William B. "Pied-Noir memory, history, and the Algerian War." in Europe’s Invisible Migrants (2003): 129-145 online.
  • Hannoum, Abdelmajid. "The historiographic state: how Algeria once became French." History and Anthropology 19.2 (2008): 91-114. online
  • Hassett, Dónal. Mobilizing Memory: The Great War and the Language of Politics in Colonial Algeria, 1918-1939 (Oxford UP, 2019).
  • House, Jim. "Memory and the Creation of Solidarity during the Decolonization of Algeria." Yale French Studies 118/119 (2010): 15-38 online.
  • Johnson, Douglas. "Algeria: some problems of modern history." Journal of African history (1964): 221–242.
  • Lorcin, Patricia M.E., ed. Algeria and France, 1800-2000: identity, memory, nostalgia (Syracuse UP, 2006).
  • McDougall, James. History and the Culture of Nationalism in Algeria (Cambridge UP, 2006) excerpt.
  • Vince, Natalya. Our fighting sisters: Nation, memory and gender in Algeria, 1954–2012 (Manchester UP, 2015).

External links[edit]

  • "Algeria". State.gov. 2012-08-17. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  • "Countries Ab-Am". Rulers.org. Retrieved 2012-12-25. List of rulers for Algeria