Algeria faces interlocking political and socio-economic challenges three years after a long-awaited presidential transition. A largely peaceful protest movement called the Hirak – prompted by the ex-president's attempt to prolong his tenure but driven by deeper grievances – filled the streets on Fridays for much of the period 2019-2021. The Hirak has faded, but its goals are unrealised, and renewed unrest is an ever present possibility. Tensions with Morocco, including over Western Sahara, also loom, threatening to roil North Africa. Through fieldwork and engagement with senior officials, Crisis Group works to enhance Algeria’s contribution to stability and conflict resolution in a troubled neighbourhood.

CrisisWatch Algeria

Unchanged Situation

Authorities allowed gatherings in support of Gaza in first exemption to protest ban in place since 2021, while cracking down on dissolved Islamist party.

Israel-Hamas war triggered show of solidarity with Palestinians. Hours after Hamas launched attack against Israel (see Israel/Palestine), foreign ministry 7 Oct denounced Israeli violence against Gaza Strip, indirectly supporting Hamas offensive. Few hundred people 13 Oct took to the streets of capital Algiers to express solidarity with Palestinians; security forces dispersed crowds, citing ban on protest in place since 2021. Under popular pressure to review stance, govt in following days authorised demonstrations in support of Palestinians, and thousands 19 Oct gathered in several cities; marches took place under strict police surveillance as Algiers fears Islamists and 2019-2021 Hirak protest movement leaders could take advantage of pro-Palestinian sentiment to make political comeback.

Authorities cracked down on leaders of dissolved Islamist party. Security services early Oct arrested several senior officials of dissolved Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) party, including founder Ali Benhadjar after they criticised govt, thereby contravening provisions of Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation of 2006, under which former FIS members are required to refrain from making political statements; FIS notably said ruling elite’s “unlimited greed” and “incorrect policies” had led to “political deadlock” and “increasing levels of poverty”. Authorities around 12 Oct charged 16 FIS members with “subversion and undermining state institutions”.

Algeria’s mediation initiative in coup-hit Niger faced setback. Foreign ministry 2 Oct announced Niger coup leaders accepted Algerian mediation to resolve “political, institutional and constitutional crisis”, which promotes six-month transition back to constitutional order. Niamey next day denied claim, emphasised transition duration could only be decided by “inclusive national forum”, thereby asserting desire to maintain control over process. Algiers 9 Oct announced postponing preparatory discussions on mediation until “necessary clarifications have been obtained”.

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In The News

1 nov 2022
Morocco cannot follow Algeria in terms of military spending, so a military alliance with Israel is a way to balance the power with Algeria. VOA

Michaël Béchir Ayari

Senior Analyst, Tunisia
6 sep 2022
We're seeing a diplomatic war [over Western Sahara], where both sides [Algeria and Morocco] are resorting to anything short of open conflict. AFP

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa

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Michaël Béchir Ayari

Senior Analyst, Tunisia

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