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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

Protesters took to streets on two-year anniversary of pro-democracy Hirak movement, and President Tebboune announced early legislative elections. Despite COVID-19 ban on protests, around 5,000 people 16 Feb demonstrated in Kheratta town, Bejaia province, site of first protest against former President Bouteflika in 2019; thousands took to streets in capital Algiers and other cities to mark two-year anniversary of first Hirak nationwide protest 22 Feb; in apparent resumption of nationwide Friday protests, thousands 26 Feb gathered across country, security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters in Algiers. In address to nation, Tebboune – who 12 Feb returned home from Germany after month-long medical treatment of COVID-19 complication – 18 Feb announced dissolution of lower house of parliament and early legislative elections within six months; also said he was offering pardon to around 55 jailed Hirak movement activists. Tebboune 21 Feb partially reshuffled govt, keeping key figures – including PM Abdelaziz Djerad and Justice Minister Belkacem Zeghmati, symbol of judicial repression against opposition and Hirak activists – in place. Earlier in month, govt 13 Feb accused Bouteflika-era officials of banking on resumption of protests to regain influence. State-owned media 17 Feb broadcast confession of jihadist known as Abu Dahdah who claimed he used social media in collaboration with Hirak activists to encourage protests. Meanwhile, student and Hirak activist Walid Nekiche 1 Feb claimed during his trial that security forces physically and sexually abused him when he was in detention following his Nov 2019 arrest; public prosecutor 7 Feb ordered preliminary investigation into Nekiche’s claims. Local NGOs National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees, National Coordination of Algerian Academics for Change and Collective of Lawyers for the Defence of Prisoners of Conscience 13 Feb launched joint committee to combat abuse of prisoners. Court 18 Feb sentenced to death main suspect in 2014 kidnapping and beheading of French citizen Hervé Gourdel; Islamic State affiliate had claimed responsibility for killing.
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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