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.
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”.
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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