History of Algeria, Part IV

First this last part of Algerian history, I’m going to summarize events following the War for Independence, the Civil War and the protests from the end of the civil war. I will be using the Library of Congress website and Al-Jazeera for the more recent events.


Post-Independence with Ben Bella: After the war, the emergence of the FLN as the main government party prompted the rise of opposition and the need for political, economical and social organization. Ben Bella was the president of the party, and he drafted a constitution that gave him executive powers without a legislative body. He added/removed those who either supported or rejected him as a autocratic leader. Revolts started from different parties in 1965 including the Communist Party, the Socialist Party and the National Committee for the Defense of the Revolution. Boumediene, Algeria’s minister of defense, swiftly captured the leaders of these groups and either sentenced them to death, life imprisonment or exile. However, Boumediene began to grew uneasy with Ben Bella’s need for control. In June 1965, he and his military cronies deposed Ben Bella in a military coup.

The exodus of many colons meant there was a dent in higher management and administration in government, businesses, public works, etc. As a result, the Algerians left were unable to fill these positions (due to colonial restrictions in education and experience) and the economy was at a standstill. What is worse that colons did not share their knowledge before they departed, leaving much of the work undone. Algerians, who were able, tried to take over abandoned houses and businesses, and the government, now under Ben Bella/FLN, declared public property part of the state. Eventually, organization emerged, and towns and cities were able to resume ordinance. The agricultural sector also tried to work under independently owned enterprises (autogestion), but this system failed to stay afloat amid corruption.


Better with Boumediene?: Once he reached office, Boumediene rid of the programs that Ben Bella enacted and created a more-militarized approach towards governance. Before the constitution was finished, the Council of the Revolution (a group of 26 members, mostly friends of Boumediene) were in charge of the state. However, this stalled economic and social growth, and many were upset that the constitution was prolonged. In 1976, the constitution was finally finished, and Boumediene was officially elected president as a sign of delivery. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1978, and there was a rush to see who the next FLN leader would be. Bendjedid, a close ally of Boumediene, was elected in 1979.

During this time, despite Boumediene’s Islamist agenda (further marginalizing the Berber and other populations), there was already trouble brewing within the marginal sectors. Islamist groups formed in retaliation of the government, mainly upset with their broken promises a better post-colonial Algeria. What is also interesting to add is the pull between Arabization programs and the Berber movement. While Berber populations were trying to gain more recognition within the state (through inclusion programs, education of their languages, etc.), Islamists found them to go against their beliefs.


Waves of Unrest: After he came to office, Bendjedid’s government created the Five Year Plan to liberalize the Algerian economy. However, prices still rose on basic goods, and unemployment soared. Bendjedid decided to privatize services which also did not help as oil prices continued to plummet. In 1988, there was a student and worker walkout which was followed by riots and destruction of government property. The government decided to enact a state of emergency. Benedjedid made reforms and in 1989, created a new constitution that eliminated FLN and socialist from the vocabulary, hoping to spur the political ideals and freedoms of the Algerian state. Later that year, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was created despite the law that political parties could not have religious overtones. They challenged the government reforms which prompted FLN beef up their political power. FIS and their followers resisted and protested, and martial law was declared in 1990. FIS leaders won elections in 1991, but the president and FLN claimed that the elections were void. Government and FIS loyalists rioted, and there was a military intervention trying to suppress the spread to more cities. Another state of emergency was enacted as a result, and the FIS was banned from elections. Guerrilla movements started, as these were groups splintered from the FIS, and massacres took places throughout northern Algeria.


Civil War: Neogitations took place, led by General Liamine Zéroual, between imprisoned FIS leaders as well as other political leaders of other groups. However, the negotiations fell through as the strongest guerrilla group, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), refused any sort of peace talk. Elections were held again in 1995 with Zéroual winning although he was at the mercy of military leaders to end the war and voluntarily stepped down in 1999. Even though the groups started to dismantle after tensions within the leadership roles, deaths and struggles for power, they were still around until 2003. (The Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb (GSPC), which was a faction of the GIA, was given the final blow when the U.S. decided to help the Algerian government with the War on Terror.)


Fresh Start: Another round of elections took place, this time with Bouteflika spearheading a campaign to restore peace in Algeria. He succeeded and won elections in 1999. He established the a reconciliation program for the civil war and the Support Plan for Economic Recovery which boosted Algeria’s exports and economic growth, and he became very close to other international leaders to create political relationships. Amnesty was granted to FIS leaders, and Berber groups were given more recognition within social policies, including teaching their languages in local schools. However, there has been controversy in his third election which is what I will talk about in the last section. See ya!


1 Comment

  1. True
    but the elkaida and jihad don’t have any relation in this case
    all this war was only bethwan gov members that decided to shit us.
    the elkaida is only a rumor of USA to take OFF ouf magreb.

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