Algeria has been a case study in how not to deal with Islamist activism. Its experience dwarfs that of its neighbours in both scale of violence - over 100,000 deaths since 1991 - and number of Islamic organisations disputing the religious, political and military fields.
01 August 2014
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In late April 2001, lethal provocations by elements of Algeria’s National Gendarmerie triggered protracted and deadly rioting in Kabylia. That the unrest from Kabylia’s Black Spring continues to this day reflects the political system’s nation-wide failure to adopt reforms that address its deficit of democratic representation.
Multiparty parliamentary elections are a comparatively recent innovation in Algeria, and in each instance to date the outcome has been overshadowed by the process that preceded or followed it.
The crisis in Algeria, now a decade old, is not merely a consequence of the interruption of the December 1991 elections by an army-backed coup to keep the Front Islamique du Salut (FIS: Islamic Salvation Front) from power.
The civil war between the Algerian army and Islamist guerrillas, sparked by the refusal of the military to recognise the electoral victory of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in 1991, is not over. The Civil Concord Law, proposed by President Bouteflika in April 1999, approved by referendum in September the same year, and supported by the leaders of the FIS, has failed to convince the majority of the guerrillas to give up their arms and seek peace.
Since December 1991, Algeria has been seized by a wave of violence, which achieved, between 1992 and 1998, the status of virtual civil war. That war was fought between, on the one hand, a military-backed regime and, on the other, a complex, clandestine opposition derived from the country’s banned umbrella Islamist movement, the Front Islamique du Salut (FIS – Jabha Islamiyya li’l-Inqadh).
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