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Algeria

In addition to a looming succession crisis, Algeria faces multiple political, economic and social challenges. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has ruled the country without contest since 1999 but has been gravely ill since a stroke in 2014. With no clear heir, his succession could be troubled and worsen Algeria’s ability to tackle mounting economic challenges as oil income dwindles. This would deprive the wider region – particularly the Sahel – of an important stabilising presence. Through fieldwork in Algeria and engagement with senior officials, Crisis Group works to increase the likelihood of peaceful political transition and enhance Algeria’s contribution to stability and conflict resolution in a troubled neighbourhood.

CrisisWatch Algeria

Unchanged Situation

Despite presidential amnesty granting release to several anti-govt protest movement (Hirak) supporters, courts continued to impose jail sentences on activists. Ahead of Independence Day 5 July, President Tebboune 1 July granted amnesty to several imprisoned Hirak activists and 4 July issued decree pardoning or reducing sentences of about 4,700 prisoners. Algiers court 2 July provisionally released high-profile Hirak figures Karim Tabbou, Amira Bouraoui, Samir Benlarbi and Slimane Hamitouche. Appeals court in Mascara city 14 July reduced journalist Ali Djamel Toubal’s prison sentence from two years to 15 months; Toubal was sentenced in June on charges of insulting state institutions and distributing publications harmful to national unity. In latter part of month, courts imposed jail sentences on several activists accused of having criticised govt and other officials. Court in Timimoun city 22 July handed Hirak activists Ahmed Sidi Moussa and Yasser Kadiri six-month prison sentence, including three-month suspended sentence, for “attacking the person of the president”, “attacking the integrity of the national territory” and “publishing leaflets likely to harm the national interest”. Bordj Bou Arreridj court 23 July sentenced Hirak activist Brahim Laami to 18 months’ imprisonment on charges of “insulting a regular body and employees”.  Tizi Ouzou court 28 July sentenced Hirak activists Zakaria Belkacemi and Mohamed Hamali to one-year imprisonment for “contempt of a regular body” and “social media posts undermining national unity” and “attacking the person of the President”. Amid rising number of COVID-19 cases, authorities upheld movement restrictions throughout country. Notably, local authorities in Setif and Ouargla provinces 9-10 July reinforced partial lockdown measures. Govt 26 July also announced two-week extension of lockdown in 29 provinces.

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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

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

Algeria and Its Neighbours

Algeria has emerged as an indispensable broker of stability in North Africa and the Sahel. But, especially as it enters a generational transition in domestic politics, it needs better strategies to deal with financial pressures, a neighbourhood in turmoil, cross-border jihadi threats, and ongoing tensions with France and Morocco. It should also resolve a presidential succession that is paralysing institutions.

Also available in العربية, Français
Op-Ed / Africa

Comment sauver le Sahel

Originally published in Slate Afrique