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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

President Tebboune pursued appeasement policy toward political opponents, and tensions continued to run high with Morocco over Western Sahara. Presidency 3 April said Tebboune had pardoned over 1,000 convicts on occasion of Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and ordered provisional release of 70 people detained for links to Hirak protest movement. Political activist and Hirak member Hakim Debbazi 24 April died while in pre-trial detention at Kolea prison in capital Algiers; cause of death unclear. Authorities 29 April arrested leading opposition figure Karim Tabbou on undisclosed charges. Trials of former President Bouteflika-era politicians and businessmen continued. Court 13 April sentenced former PMs Abdelmalek Sellal and Ahmed Ouyahia to five and four years in prison respectively for “squandering of public funds” and “abuse of office for the purpose of granting undue advantages”. Govt 12 April accused Morocco of killing three civilians in 10 April drone strikes in disputed Western Sahara near Mauritanian border; Algerian special envoy for Western Sahara and Maghreb countries, Amar Belani, 14 April denounced “targeted assassinations” and “repeated acts of state terrorism”, warned “possible spillover” of Moroccan “warmongering” into Algerian territory will be considered casus belli (see Western Sahara). Amid deteriorating relations with Spain over Western Sahara, Algiers offered new energy partnership to Italy: state-owned oil and gas company Sonatrach and Italian energy company ENI 11 April signed cooperation agreement in Algiers to increase amount of gas exported from Algeria to Italy. Govt 27 April threatened to suspend gas exports to Spain if Madrid transferred it onward to “a third destination” as latter reportedly set to help Rabat to “guarantee its energy security”. Algiers 7 April voted against resolution suspending Russia from UN Human Rights Council over reports of “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” in Ukraine, arguing UN mechanisms need to inquire on site in Ukraine.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

23 Dec 2021
Israel's alliance with Morocco could mean that in the long-term Rabat becomes militarily superior to Algiers and dominant in the region. TRT World

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa
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

Former 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

Former 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