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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

Pro-democracy Hirak movement continued to gain momentum as it restarted protests after months of online activism. After Hirak late Feb resumed Friday protests despite COVID-19-related ban on gatherings, thousands 5, 12, 19 and 26 Marchtook to streets in capital Algiers and other cities against political and military elites, early elections and repression; several journalists assaulted while covering protest in Algiers 12 March, reportedly by group of individuals operating on behalf of security forces. President Tebboune 11 March scheduled early legislative elections for 12 June. Students also resumed Tuesday marches in Algiers to demand “free and democratic Algeria” and an end to military’s domination. Authorities responded to resurgence of protest movement with combination of repression and co-optation. UN human rights office 5 March expressed concern over “increasing crackdown” on Hirak activists and “deteriorating human rights situation” in country; also alleged hundreds have been detained since street protests resumed in Feb. Tebboune 4 March called on Hirak activists to participate in elected institutions and throughout month continued consultations with political parties and Hirak militants favourable to building consensus with authorities. In alleged attempt to take wind out of Hirak, Tebboune’s adviser in charge of relations with civil society and diaspora 6 March announced creation of “National Initiative” (Nidaa al Watan), gathering hundred associations and trade unions, to “create a force of proposal to promote reforms”. Authorities also played up political and identity divisions within protest movement, notably by agitating spectre of Islamist violence. Court in Algiers 21 Marchissued international arrest warrants against four activists close to Hirak on terrorism charges, notably accusing former diplomat Mohamed Larbi Zitout – prominent leader of outlawed Rachad movement gathering former Islamic Salvation Front’s officials – of seeking to turn Hirak into violent movement. Authorities 30 March announced arrest of five people on suspicion of planning “terrorist” acts against Hirak protests in north. Amid growing tensions with Morocco over Western Sahara, authorities mid-March reportedly ordered Moroccan farmers to leave El Arja border area in south by 18 March. 

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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

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