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CrisisWatch Algeria

Unchanged Situation

Political tensions ran high as deadly wildfires sparked violence in Kabylia and govt cut diplomatic relations with Morocco. Angry mob 11 Aug lynched man to death in Kabylia region’s Tizi Ouzou province, accusing him of sparking deadly wildfires which devastated region starting 9 Aug; victim, Djamel Bensmail, had reportedly travelled to help fight fires and assist in rescue operations; wildfires, deadliest in country’s history, had killed at least 90, including 57 civilians and 33 soldiers, by mid-Aug. Prosecutor 12 Aug ordered investigation into killing, and authorities in following days reportedly arrested around 90 people for suspected involvement. After video calling for Kabylia to be wiped off Algeria’s map circulated on social media, NGO Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights 17 Aug filed legal complaint for “incitement to hatred and violence”. President Tebboune’s office next day blamed wildfires on recently outlawed Movement for the Self-Determination of Kabylie (MAK) and Islamist movement Rachad, said MAK receives support from neighbouring Morocco. Govt 24 Aug cut diplomatic ties with Morocco, citing “hostile actions”; relationship between Algiers and Rabat has long been strained, notably over Western Sahara conflict. UN, Arab League, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and others next day called for dialogue between Algiers and Rabat to avoid escalation. Algiers prosecutor 26 Aug issued international arrest warrant against MAK leader Ferhat Mehenni for movement’s alleged involvement in lynching of Bensmail. Meanwhile, court in Tamanrasset town (south) 12 Aug sentenced journalist Rabah Karèche to eight months in prison on charges of “publishing false information endangering national unity and state security”, after he reported on protest movement by ethnic Tuareg minority in Ahaggar area earlier this year. Tebboune 28 Aug set early municipal and provincial elections for 27 Nov.
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Reports & Briefings

In The News

20 Apr 2020
[...] here we have three crises -- economic, political and the virus -- potentially converging at a time when the population is still highly mobilized and trust in the [Algerian] state is low. Bloomberg

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa
2 Apr 2020
The [Algerian] protest movement could be made more determined in the future due to the economic and social consequences of the [COVID-19] restrictions, as well as the repression. The National

Michaël Béchir Ayari

Senior Analyst, Tunisia
10 Mar 2020
[The fall in oil prices] may not be so bad, if it is only for a month or two, but if it is for longer, [Algeria] will have to speed up its adoption of austerity measures. Financial Times

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa
5 Mar 2019
The army and intelligence services [in Algeria] are still important but not as an autonomous pole of power. Financial Times

Hannah Armstrong

Senior Consulting Analyst, Sahel
1 Mar 2019
Protests in Algeria are not about rule by one man but a system. One that has empowered a business class with close links to the state while progressively stifling economic and political liberties and excluding an earnest, educated youth. Twitter

Hannah Armstrong

Senior Consulting Analyst, Sahel

Latest Updates

Arab Protests: A Wicked Dance Between Rulers and Subjects

A new wave of popular protests has jolted an already deeply unsettled Arab world. Nine years ago, uprisings across the region signalled a rejection of corrupt autocratic rule that failed to deliver jobs, basic services and reliable infrastructure. Yet regime repression and the protests’ lack of organisation, leadership and unified vision thwarted hopes of a new order. As suddenly as the uprisings erupted, as quickly they descended into violence. What followed was either brutal civil war or regime retrenchment. Tunisia stands as the sole, still fragile, exception.

Originally published in Valdai Club

En Algérie, la rue met le pouvoir face à ses contradictions

Une série de protestations contre « le mandat de trop » s’est emparée du pays depuis l’annonce de la candidature du président Bouteflika à l’élection d'avril. Dans ce questions-réponses, notre analyste Michaël Ayari, de retour d’Algérie, se penche sur les ressorts d’une mobilisation inédite et examine les scénarios possibles.

Also available in English

Breaking Algeria’s Economic Paralysis

Political paralysis in oil-dependent Algeria has blocked much-needed economic reform. To avoid a new era of instability, the government should increase transparency and accountability within state institutions and the private sector, as well as improve opportunities for the country’s burgeoning youth.

Also available in العربية, Français

The Youth Movement in Sahrawi Refugee Camps

Refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria, have long been run by the Polisario movement, which seeks an independent state in Western Sahara, also claimed by Morocco. But a new generation of Sahrawi refugees is growing fractious as aid dwindles and diplomatic efforts fail to deliver a settlement.

Algeria’s South: Trouble’s Bellwether

As waves of protests have hit the hydrocarbon-rich Algerian south since 2013, authorities maintained a tenuous peace through handouts, repression and policing. To calm tensions, the state needs to clarify policies, communicate with local protestors and address underlying issues of governance.

Also available in العربية, Français