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.
Le chef de l’Etat algérien, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, a convoqué des élections législatives anticipées qui se tiendront le 12 juin. Dans ce Q&A, l’expert de Crisis Group Michael Ayari explique pourquoi ce scrutin pourrait marquer l’entrée dans une nouvelle phase d’instabilité.
President Tebboune appointed new PM in apparent preparation for re-election bid; Algiers reiterated support for Palestine and appeared set to mend diplomatic ties with Spain.
Tebboune continued to centralise decision-making ahead of re-election campaign. One year ahead of presidential election scheduled for Dec 2024, Tebboune 11 Nov appointed his chief of staff, Nadir Larbaoui, as PM. Move took place few weeks after Tebboune reorganised president’s office, appointing several advisers whose responsibilities appear to duplicate those of govt. Meanwhile, historical ruling party, National Liberation Front, 13 Nov elected Abdelkrim Benmbarek as new general secretary; in inaugural statement, Benmbarek praised Tebboune’s track record and vowed to support his “vision”, pointing to party’s ambition to return to prominence after being sidelined in wake of 2019-2021 Hirak protest movement.
Algiers sent ambassador to Spain, ending 19-month crisis. Govt 16 Nov appointed new ambassador to Spain; post had remained vacant since Algiers in March 2022 recalled its diplomatic representative in protest at Madrid’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.
In other important developments. Tebboune 6 Nov called on International Criminal Court to take action to hold Israel accountable for crimes committed against Palestinians in Gaza since October. Army chief of staff, Saïd Chengriha, 12 Nov began visit to China in bid to diversify weapons and military equipment purchases as Algeria’s main arms supplier, Russia, faces difficulties in fulfilling export contracts amid Ukraine war.
Morocco cannot follow Algeria in terms of military spending, so a military alliance with Israel is a way to balance the power with Algeria.
We're seeing a diplomatic war [over Western Sahara], where both sides [Algeria and Morocco] are resorting to anything short of open conflict.
Le 1er novembre 2020, le référendum constitutionnel sur lequel comptait le pouvoir algérien pour avancer vers des réformes a été éclipsé par l’hospitalisation du président Tebboune. Dans ce Q&A, notre analyste principal pour l’Algérie et la Tunisie, Michael Ayari, anticipe les risques de cette situation.
Algeria is now facing more challenges due to the social and economic fallout from the Covid-19 crisis and the country’s official lockdown measures. The authorities should respond to popular protests with a lighter touch and sit together with Hirak members to discuss the country’s economy.
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.
A groundswell of popular unrest has ended Bouteflika’s twenty-year rule and brought Algeria to a fork in the road. The regime should embark on substantive reforms and enter dialogue with protest leaders in order to prevent the cycle of mass protests and repressive counter-measures spiralling out of control.
Protests against Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika have seized the country since he announced his candidacy for a fifth term ahead of the April election. In this Q&A, our analyst Michaël Ayari looks at the causes of an unprecedented uprising and examines future scenarios.
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.
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.
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.
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