Demilitarizing Algeria

Publié le par Mahi Ahmed



Middle East Program

Number 86 n May 2007

Demilitarizing Algeria

Hugh Roberts

About the Author

Hugh Roberts is an independent writer, lecturer, and consultant based in Cairo. From 2002

to 2007 he was the Director of the North Africa Project for the International Crisis Group,

in which capacity he was responsible for the production of reports on Islamism and on the

problems of political reform in North Africa and for initiating a series of reports on Islam

and Islamism in Europe. He is the author of The Battlefield: Algeria 1988-2002, Studies in

a Broken Polity (Verso, 2003) and is currently working to complete books on the Berbers of

Algeria and on Islamism.



The Algerian state constituted at the end of the eight-year war of independence

by the victorious Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) exhibited

an impressive degree of continuity and stability during its first 26

years, from 1962 to 1988. In February 1989, however, the regime of

President Chadli Bendjedid abruptly introduced a pluralist constitution

and legalized parties which, based on rival Islamist and Berberist conceptions

of identity, polarized public opinion by advocating mutually

exclusive Islamist and secularist conceptions of the state. In doing so,

the regime set in motion a process that profoundly destabilized the state.

Instead of restoring order, however, the army's eventual intervention in

January 1992 precipitated a descent into armed conflict which, while

greatly reduced since 1998, has still not entirely ended.

The violence that has ravaged Algeria since 1992 has expressed

and confirmed the ascendancy of the military in Algerian political

life and the weakness of all civilian forms of politics, both on the progovernment

side and among those opposed to the regime. The civilian

leaders of the Islamist movement were almost entirely outflanked by the

Islamist armed movements and, within the regime, the army's General

Staff and intelligence chiefs became the main source of decision making.

In particular, successive presidents proved entirely unable to impose their

authority. The deposing of President Chadli Bendjedid in January 1992

was followed by the assassination of President Mohammed Boudiaf six

months later, the brief and ineffectual interim of Ali Kafi (July 1992 to

January 1994), and the eventual failure also of Liamine Zeroual (1994-

1999), who, despite his impressive electoral endorsement in 1995, was

unable to secure a consensus within the regime in support of his efforts

to resolve the crisis.

Since becoming president in April 1999, Abdelaziz Bouteflika has

achieved substantial success in several key areas where his predecessors

had failed. The main armed Islamist organizations that dominated the

insurgency during the 1990s-the Armée Islamique du Salut (AIS) and

the Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA)-either disbanded or were largely

eliminated, and security was restored to most of the country. The virtual

quarantine in which Algeria had been confined since 1994 was broken as

Bouteflika spearheaded the country's return to the international stage, renewing

relations with Paris and Washington while also recovering some

of Algeria's former influence in broader African affairs. Bouteflika has also

| Demilitarizing Algeria

enjoyed that indispensable quality-luck. Since the events of September

11, 2001, Algeria has been seen as an especially useful and welcome ally

by the U.S. government in its "global war on terrorism." As for the state's

financial position, this has been transformed as a result of high oil prices;

in desperate straits in the early 1990s, Algeria has recently been able to

pay off its once-crippling debts and accumulate unprecedentedly ample


In terms of internal reform, however, the balance sheet is, at best,

ambiguous and controversial. The system of formal political pluralism

introduced in 1989 was preserved by the military-dominated regime

throughout the 1990s, and remains in being today. Formally contested

elections have been held at regular intervals, in 1995, 1999, and 2004 for

the presidency of the republic and in 1997 and 2002 for the national, regional,

and municipal assemblies. Fresh assembly elections are scheduled

this summer. Widely perceived as authoritarian in his personal outlook,

Bouteflika has chosen to live with this pluralist system while working

around it. A variety of parties, some of them Islamist, remain legal and

are represented in parliament, but their capacity to offer an alternative

to the regime has been reduced to zero. At the same time, Bouteflika's

determination to restore the authority of the presidency has entailed the

curbing of press freedom-a number of outspoken journalists have been

jailed as a lesson to others-and of other freedoms (notably of trade

unions), while the state of emergency introduced in February 1992 has

been routinely renewed and is still in force.

It would be one-sided, however, to consider these developments as

a simple regression. Bouteflika's principal purpose has been to restore

coherence to the executive branch of the state by reestablishing the presidency-

in place of the army high command-as the supreme arbiter of

policy debates and conflicts of interest. In doing this he has been taking

on the vested interests of the coterie of senior generals who became a law

unto themselves during the 1990s, and he has been steadily maneuvering

them off the political stage.

The central issue is whether his success in this endeavor will prove

permanent-and thereby open up the possibility of a progressive and

eventually definitive demilitarization of the state-or whether it will be

merely temporary. With Bouteflika's health now in question, his chances

of securing a third term in 2009 are in doubt and arguments over the

succession have already begun to preoccupy and divide the politicalmilitary

elite. Moreover, the onset of a factional dispute over this since

the summer of 2006 has coincided with a striking-and quite unexpected-

recrudescence of terrorist activity. The main armed movement still

active, the Salafi Group for Preaching and Combat (Groupe Salafiste pour

la Prédication et le Combat, or GSPC) was previously noted for confining

Hugh Roberts |

its attacks to the security forces and sparing civilians. Under new leaders,

it has recently reverted to the indiscriminate terrorism formerly associated

with the GIA while re-branding itself as a branch of Al Qaeda. With

the unprecedented attack by a suicide bomber on the principal government

building in central Algiers on April 11, Algerian politics has once

more entered a period of uncertainty and anxiety.

The Failure of Premature Reform, 1989-1999

The generally uncritical welcome given to President Chadli's liberalizing

reform by Western governments and observers at the time was predicated,

among other things, on a misconception of the problems of authoritarianism

and arbitrary rule in the Algerian context. It was assumed

that these problems were rooted in the formal political monopoly of the

Party of the FLN (PFLN)1 and that ending this monopoly through the

introduction of political pluralism was the indispensable point of departure

for political reform in the direction of democracy and the rule

of law. That assessment ignored the fact that the Party of the FLN was

not the source of power in the Algerian state and that the problem of

authoritarianism was not a function of its formal monopoly, but rather

of the preponderance of the executive branch of the state over the legislative

branch and the judiciary and the fact that the executive branch as a

whole has been subject throughout to the hegemony of the military.

Instead of strengthening the civilian wing of the political class as the indispensable

precondition of a sustainable process of political liberalization,

the premature introduction of formal pluralism gravely weakened it. Prior

to 1989, the PFLN had functioned as a constraint on the power of the military

commanders; by licensing and even encouraging challengers to it, the

regime disabled its own civilian wing and freed the army's commanders from

all institutional constraints. By legalizing parties based on rival conceptions

of identity, the regime simultaneously disabled public opinion, by arranging

for it to be polarized between mutually exclusive and above all bitterly intolerant

cultural and ideological outlooks, and ensured that political debate

was fixated on alternative-and largely utopian-conceptions of the proper

constitution of the state instead of alternative programs for government. And

by allowing the Islamist party, the Front Islamique du Salut (FIS), to contest

and win local elections in June 1990 and legislative elections in December

1991 on a platform calling for an Islamic state, the government provided the

army commanders, fearful for their own prerogatives, with the pretext for

finally intervening in January 1992 to depose President Chadli, abort the

electoral process, violate the constitution, and suppress the FIS in the name

of ... democracy.

| Demilitarizing Algeria

The result was a conflagration that has proved extremely difficult to

bring to an end. Algeria since 1992 has been a battlefield disputed not by

two clear-cut sides but by a welter of distinct Islamist groups on the one

hand, as inclined to fight each other and to terrorize the population as

to pose a real threat to the state, and, on the other, a military-dominated

regime whose internal divisions have at least partially mirrored those of

the Islamists notionally opposed to it. It was only when the factional

conflict within the Algerian army was provisionally resolved with the

resignation of President Liamine Zeroual in September 1998 and the accession

of Abdelaziz Bouteflika to the presidency the following April that

the necessary minimum of consensus was reached and the regime at last

exhibited, at least for a time, a unified approach to curbing the violence

and restoring order.

This approach has involved inducing the main armed Islamist organizations

to end their campaigns and dissolve themselves in return for a

qualified amnesty, while at the same time refusing any rehabilitation of

the banned FIS and, equally if not more controversially, any investigation

into the army's conduct of its counterinsurgency campaign (notably,

the resort to torture and extrajudicial executions). These measures, presented

by the regime as necessary to promote "national reconciliation,"

seem to have enjoyed general popular approval even though they have

been vigorously criticized by both human rights groups and associations

representing the families of the "disappeared" (people arrested by the

security forces and never seen since) as well as by the families of victims

of Islamist terrorism. But they have clearly been insufficient to end the

violence completely.

The most important armed movement in recent years has been the

GSPC, which broke away from the GIA in 1998 in protest at the GIA's

targeting of civilians. (The GIA, although now reduced to a small rump,

has never disbanded.) Under its original leader, Hassan Hattab, the

GSPC confined itself to attacking the security forces throughout the

1998 to 2002 period and even expressed interest in negotiating an end

to its campaign. Bouteflika appears to have considered extending the amnesty

formula to the GSPC in return for its dissolution, but the majority

of the army commanders were opposed and Hattab's loss of control of the

group to rival leaders in 2003 put paid to that possibility. While current

Western attention has focused on the GSPC's decision to rename itself

"Al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghrib," the most striking aspects

of its recent mutation are: its reversion to the indiscriminate terrorism

that was the hallmark of the GIA and its increasing targeting of the police,

that is, the civilian rather than military wing of the security forces.

The failure to end the violence completely has thus been closely connected

to the persistence and resurgence of factional conflicts within the

Hugh Roberts |

regime. This factionalism-the motor of change in the informal sector of

the Algerian polity-also profoundly vitiated the introduction of formal

party-political pluralism from 1989 onwards. It is in fact the heart of the

problem of Algerian politics, and it has dominated the country's political

life to a degree that has always distinguished independent Algeria from

the other states of the region.

The Peculiarities of the Algerian State

Algeria between 1962 and 1988 has almost invariably been described as a

one-party state and accordingly placed in the same category as other authoritarian

regimes based on single-party rule. Unlike the Baath parties in Iraq

and Syria and the Néo-Destour in Tunisia,2 however, the Party of the FLN

was not created on the basis of a particular program or ideology by freely

acting political entrepreneurs but, rather, was established by government

fiat. It was, from the outset, a state apparatus rather than a genuine political

party. It performed legitimating functions for the regime-whatever

programs and policies the latter adopted-and supervised the so-called

"mass organizations" (trade union, peasants' union, women's union,

youth union, etc.) to ensure their loyalty. It was not itself a source of decision

making and, in fact, during the presidency of Houari Boumediène

(1965-1978), it possessed neither a central committee nor a political bureau

and not a single congress of the party was held.

On Boumediène's death in December 1978, a concerted attempt was

made by senior figures in the regime to establish the PFLN as a serious

institution in its own right. This attempt met with impressive initial success.

A party congress was, at last, held in January 1979, and approved

Chadli Bendjedid's candidacy to become president. The same congress

at long last endowed the party with a large and representative Central

Committee, a 17-man Political Bureau containing genuine heavyweights,

and a number of policy commissions. The purpose was to equip the

PFLN with the formal organizational structures, powers, and capacities

that would enable it to supplant the informal coterie of army commanders

as the principle locus of strategic decision making in the state. In

short, it was a major effort to promote the badly needed institutionalization

and demilitarization of the Algerian power structure.

But its success was short-lived. In May 1980, in a climate of turmoil

bordering on panic in the wake of sensational unrest in Kabylia,3 a resolution

inspired by senior army commanders was railroaded through

the Central Committee giving President Chadli, as general secretary of

the party, full powers to appoint members of the Political Bureau. The

Central Committee, in other words, was induced to emasculate itself and

the Political Bureau, from which several major figures were immediately

| Demilitarizing Algeria

dropped. The result was that, from that point on, President Chadli was

formally accountable to nobody but informally accountable to the army

commanders. The capacity of the army commanders to abuse their power

was limited by their own membership of-and consequent obligation

to respect the procedural rules governing-the party's leading instances.

But this curb on the arbitrary power of the military was itself limited. In

line with this change of direction, Chadli dissolved most of the PFLN's

new policy commissions; established a disciplinary commission to intimidate

dissenting voices; reduced the size, representativeness, and role

of the Political Bureau; and organized a purge of independent-minded

personalities from the Central Committee. The attempt to endow the

party with real functions and powers and a real inner life had clearly been

defeated, to the benefit of the military, the informal sector of the polity,

and the syndrome of arbitrary rule.

The Algerian state has thus more closely resembled Egypt. In both

cases, the revolution that constituted the state was military in character

and the nominally ruling party has in reality been little more than a

façade for the executive branch of the state dominated by the officer corps

of the armed forces. In both cases, the development of substantive political

pluralism requires a prior reform to empower the legislative branch so

as to curb the executive branch and replace military primacy with civilian

control. To introduce formal pluralism in breach of the party's monopoly

was in itself, therefore, merely to replace a monolithic façade with a

fragmented one. But the fact that the premature introduction of formal

pluralism in Algeria had disastrous consequences owes much to the way

in which the Algerian case has differed from the Egyptian prototype.

The Problem of Factionalism

The contrasts between the Algerian and Egyptian revolutions are at least

as important as the formal parallels. The Egyptian revolution of 1952

was in essence a military coup largely planned and led by one man,

Gamal Abdel Nasser, such that revolutionary legitimacy was the preserve

of a tiny coterie of co-conspirators (the "Free Officers") and the leadership

of Nasser was unchallenged. But the Algerian revolution was a protracted

war, conducted in a highly decentralized manner all over the country

and even outside it, and mobilized the support of the Muslim population

as a whole and the active participation of scores of thousands. Thus

revolutionary legitimacy has been widely diffused, with many thousands

of Algerians able to claim some share in it and a corresponding share in

political power for themselves and the coteries or clienteles they represent.

The result has been an exceptionally intense factionalism within the

power structure of the independent state.

Hugh Roberts |

Three developments have served to perpetuate and, if anything, aggravate

the problem of factionalism since independence. The first was the

emergence of hydrocarbons as the principal source of foreign earnings

and state revenue. The Algerian state assumed the character of a "distributive

state," and its role in allocating these resources guaranteed that the

stakes in the factional competition remained high and even expanded.

The second was the onset of identity conflicts and ideological divisions,

a development that started in the 1980s and was in turn exacerbated by

the advent of formal pluralism. The third was the belated decision in

1993-1994 to bow to external pressure to reschedule Algeria's debt and

accept its corollary, structural adjustment and the concomitant policy of

privatization of state enterprises. Because all decisions concerning these

matters continued to be taken within the executive branch, controversies

over these issues constantly galvanized factional mobilization and the

rough-and-tumble of factional conflict remained the principal medium

of policy making.

This factionalism has been ambiguous in its implications. On the one

hand, it has contributed to the state's capacity, inherited from the wartime

FLN, to co-opt a wide range of interests, viewpoints, and personalities,

since it is through informal factional recruitment and alliancebuilding

that the co-optation process primarily occurs. Thus the activity

of the factions4 has enabled the state to get and keep a grip on the

diverse social interests and ideological trends in the country and so has

contributed to the state's own stability and capacity to survive. It has also

contributed to another important way in which Algeria differs from the

Egyptian case: the relative weakness-or at any rate porousness-of the

elite-mass dichotomy. But, at the same time, the role of the factions and

the salience of factional allegiances have persistently prevented coherence

in government policy making and the functioning of the administration.

More generally, they have tended to preclude political accountability, vitiate

political debate, and inhibit political institutionalization. The factions

have thus been the chief guardians, as well as the chief beneficiaries,

of the primacy of the informal sector of the Algerian polity over the formal

sector, the corresponding backwardness of Algerian political culture,

and the inadequacy of the current state framework to the requirements

of a dynamic society and a modern economy.

The Problem of Presidential Authority

This exceptionally complex and intense factionalism has been all the

more difficult to control because the revolution had no undisputed leader.

There was no Algerian Nasser (or Ho Chi Minh or Castro or Mandela,

let alone Mao Zedong). And the revolutionary elite-composed of the

senior echelons of the historic FLN and above all the Armée de Libération

| Demilitarizing Algeria

Nationale (ALN)-has consisted of individuals who have been generally

disinclined to recognize the claims to preeminent leadership of any one

of their own number.

As a result, the position of president, at the apex of the pyramid of

power, has usually been a relatively powerless one. The most powerful

men in the FLN-ALN during the war neutralized each other's presidential

ambitions and accordingly agreed on relatively weak figures (Ferhat

Abbas, Benyoucef Ben Khedda) to act as civilian presidents of the

Gouvernement Provisoire de la République Algérienne (GPRA) from 1958

onward. These civilians were essentially figureheads or front men for the

real power holders and they performed little more than ceremonial and

public relations functions. Both of the strong-willed historic revolutionaries

who briefly became president-Ahmed Ben Bella (1962-1965) and

Mohamed Boudiaf (January-June 1992)-came to grief for lack of solid

military support. Only Houari Boumediène was able to exercise the full

powers and prerogatives of the president of the republic as defined in

the constitution. But his success in establishing his authority as president

was due to his unique position as the architect of the unification

of the scattered forces of the ALN in his capacity as its chief of staff

and as the organizer of the ALN's transformation into a modern regular

army, the Armée Nationale Populaire (ANP), in his capacity as minister

of defense after 1962. He thus brought his unrivaled authority over the

armed forces with him into the presidency and made a point of retaining

the defense portfolio and preserving his control over the army thereafter.

While he never wore military uniform after becoming president in 1965,

his political power was in reality a function of his military power.

None of his successors has been able to emulate him in this respect.

And the prospect that any one of them might eventually accumulate

decisive political authority over the executive branch as a whole was profoundly

damaged by Chadli Bendjedid's decision in 1984 to reestablish

the ANP's General Staff.

The Problem of the General Staff

The creation of a unified General Staff of the ALN under Colonel

Boumediène in 1960 was a victory for the most political wing of the

ALN over the centrifugal tendencies inherent in a liberation army that

had been extremely decentralized from its inception in 1954. The accumulation

of authority that Boumediène's General Staff achieved through

its unification of the ALN enabled it to arbitrate the power struggle

within the FLN at independence in 1962 and equipped Boumediène to

transform the ALN into a regular army from 1962 onwards. As defense

minister, Boumediène continued to act as chief of staff as well until Ben

Bella appointed Colonel Tahar Zbiri to the position behind Boumediène's

Hugh Roberts |

back-a move that spelled the end of the Ben Bella-Boumediène alliance

and led to Ben Bella's eventual overthrow in 1965. As president,

Boumediène retained the defense portfolio but was able to consolidate

his position fully only after getting rid of Zbiri following the latter's abortive

putsch in December 1967, at which point the General Staff was

abolished. In other words, from 1968 onward, Boumediène's presidential

authority rested not only on the fact that he was his own defense minister,

but also the fact that, in the absence of a General Staff, the defense

ministry was the sole, unrivaled apex of the military power structure.

The reestablishment of the General Staff in 1984 changed all that.

Its immediate effect was to qualify the defense ministry's control over

the ANP officer corps and so dilute President Chadli's personal authority

over the armed forces. That in turn diminished Chadli's ability to

arbitrate and limit factional disputes within the military, especially the

conflict between the coterie of former officers of the French army (the socalled

"Déserteurs de l'Armée Française," or DAF) and the rival coterie of

officers who had emerged from the ALN's guerrilla units and then graduated

from various Arab military academies (in Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan).

As a result, this conflict became more intense and uninhibited. But the

longer-term significance of the institutional change was to establish an

autonomous center of political power and decision making within the

army. The implications of this became apparent only under the dramatic

stresses and strains of the 1989-1992 period.

Following the ratification by referendum of the pluralist constitution

in February 1989, the ANP withdrew its representatives from the

Central Committee and Political Bureau of the PFLN. The move was

declared-and naïvely believed-to signify the army's total withdrawal

from the political stage. In fact, however, having ended its involvement

with the PFLN, the army command began to engage in relations with all

parties in the new pluralist dispensation. A special office to handle formal

liaison with the various political parties was established under the aegis

of the General Staff, and the intelligence services discreetly infiltrated all

the main parties as a matter of course. Thus the army commanders-acting

independently of the defense ministry-were equipping themselves

to negotiate their own, autonomous, relations with the various factions

of the civilian political class. The consequences for the authority of the

presidency were enormous.

Immediately after the FIS's first victory in the municipal and regional

elections in June 1990, Chadli was induced to surrender the defense

portfolio to the then Chief of Staff, Major General Khaled Nezzar. In

June 1991, Nezzar and the General Staff forced Chadli to agree to the

brutal repression of FIS demonstrations in Algiers and the eviction of

the head of the government, the reformer Mouloud Hamrouche and,

10 | Demilitarizing Algeria

in addition, to give up the presidency of the PFLN. By this point, then,

the army commanders had become an independent force in the political

arena, dictating terms to the president and progressively stripping him

of his prerogatives. Chadli's abdication of presidential authority and responsibility

can thus be seen to have taken place in several stages, beginning

as early as 1984, and to have been largely completed seven months

before Nezzar and his colleagues finally applied the coup de grâce in

January 1992.

Each of Algeria's successive presidents since 1992 has been confronted

with an army commanded by officers he did not himself appoint and

whom he cannot easily replace. Neither of the two presidents of the

Haut Comité d'État (HCE)5-Mohamed Boudiaf and Ali Kafi-was

even nominally his own defense minister; both were cramped from the

start by Khaled Nezzar's occupancy of the position. When Nezzar was

finally obliged to stand down in favor of Liamine Zeroual in July 1993,

Zeroual's ability to choose his own military staff was fatally constrained,

even after he assumed the presidency in January 1994 in addition to the

defense portfolio. In his last act as defense minister, Nezzar had appointed

as chief of staff the ambitious and forceful General Mohammed Lamari,

previously commander of the "Special Forces" spearheading the counterinsurgency

campaign and known for his preference for "eradicating"

the rebellion rather than seeking a negotiated end to it. The result was a

situation of dual power, with Lamari's General Staff contesting and neutralizing

Zeroual's authority over the armed forces, security policy, and,

indeed, the political situation as a whole. Instead of the defense ministry

tending, as under Boumediène, to enable the presidency to control the

military, the army's top echelon, organized in the General Staff, was now

tending to control the defense ministry. From this position, it was able to

box in and hamstring the presidency, sabotage its peace initiatives, and

dominate the political arena, where it possessed important civilian relays

in the shape of secularist political parties enthusiastically committed to

the "eradicator" policy6 and influential daily newspapers.7

The power of the General Staff was such that Zeroual was even unable

to dispose of the defense portfolio as he wished. When he sought

to appoint his ally, General Mohamed Betchine, to the position, Lamari

and the General Staff successfully blocked the move. And when, as a second-

best ploy, he tried to win control of the newly formed-and statesponsored-

Rassemblement National Démocratique (RND)8 as a reliable

party-political relay by promoting Betchine and Betchine's nominees

within the RND leadership, the General Staff and the intelligence services

went onto the offensive, mobilized their civilian relays, and organized

a virulent press campaign against Betchine in the summer of 1998.

Hugh Roberts | 11

Zeroual accordingly decided that it had become impossible for him to

exercise his constitutional prerogatives as president of the republic and

announced his intention to call an early election so that a successor could

be found.

This move apparently surprised the army power brokers, who were

obliged, with audible reluctance, to agree to retired Major General Larbi

Belkheir's proposal that former foreign minister Abdelaziz Bouteflika be

invited to run for president with the army's tacit backing. This backing

was far from total, however. Only Belkheir and his protégé, the head of

counterintelligence, General Smaïl Lamari (no relation to the chief of

staff ), were positively committed to Bouteflika. The General Staff advertised

its own lack of enthusiasm by publicly insisting that the regular

armed forces were strictly neutral, and the decision makers authorized no

fewer than six plausible candidates9 to run against Bouteflika. The prospect

of a genuinely contested election was destroyed at the eleventh hour,

however, by the sensational collective decision of the six other candidates

to withdraw from the race in protest at what they claimed was evidence

of election rigging. The result was that Bouteflika became president by

default through a procedure that fell far short of being an election. From

the army commanders' point of view, this was, of course, the ideal result.

They had the man they preferred in the presidency, but so mal élu (badly

elected) that he possessed no electoral legitimacy or popular mandate

and so could be presumed to pose no threat to their domination of the

political scene.

It was to take Bouteflika five years to bring the General Staff, at least

provisionally and conditionally, under control. He finally achieved this

when Mohamed Lamari and his supporters in the army command were

forced into retirement in the summer of 2004 following Bouteflika's triumphant

reelection the previous April. Lamari himself was replaced as

chief of staff by the self-effacing Major General Ahmed Gaïd Salah. With

the General Staff provisionally tamed, Bouteflika was able to restore

the authority of the defense ministry over the armed forces as a whole

by his appointment of retired Major General Abdelmalek Guennaïzia

to the newly created post of minister-delegate of defense. Guennaïzia,

Lamari's predecessor as chief of staff and a close associate of both former

president Chadli Bendjedid and former defense minister Khaled Nezzar,

carried influence with the army commanders but, having retired, was

technically a civilian as well as (in principle) answerable to Bouteflika

in the latter's capacity as titular minister of defense. But there is reason

to doubt that this fully secured Bouteflika's authority over the defense

establishment, since this authority still did not extend in practice to the

intelligence services.

12 | Demilitarizing Algeria

The Problem of the Intelligence Services

The enormous power of the intelligence services has long been the open

secret of Algerian political life. Created by Colonel Abdelhafid Boussouf,

the commander of wilaya V (Oranie) in the wartime FLN-ALN and subsequently

minister of armaments and general liaisons in the GPRA, they

were renamed la Sécurité Militaire (SM) after independence and, while

officially called the Département du Renseignement et de la Sécurité (DRS)

since 1990, they are still widely referred to as "la SM."

Already a pervasive presence in Algerian political life under Presidents

Boumediène and Chadli Bendjedid, the intelligence services acquired

even greater influence during the 1990s. The exigencies of the counterinsurgency

campaign led, in particular, to the expansion of the activities

and personnel of the Direction du Contre-Espionnage et de la Sécurité

Interne (DCE) within the DRS. The conduct of the DCE in combating

the Islamist insurgency has long been a matter of the greatest controversy.

That it actively infiltrated the Islamic armed movements is common

knowledge and not, in itself, surprising. What has been at issue in the

controversy is whether this infiltration has sought to bring the insurgency

to an end or, rather, on the contrary, manipulate it for unavowed

and unavowable ends.

What is certain, however, is that the political power of the services since

the onset of the violence in 1992 has been greater than at any previous

point in the history of independent Algeria. Since 1990, Algeria has had

five heads of state (Chadli, Boudiaf, Kafi, Zeroual, and Bouteflika), eleven

heads of government10 and four defense ministers,11 but throughout

this entire period the DRS has been commanded by General Mohamed

Mediène and the DCE has been commanded by General Smaïl Lamari.

During the protracted "dual power" impasse of 1993-1998, when the

Zeroual presidency was engaged in a continuous trial of strength with the

General Staff, it was Mediène who was the effective arbiter of the conflict.

That the DRS eventually arbitrated in favor of Bouteflika against

Chief of Staff Mohamed Lamari in 2004 is clear. But it is by no means

certain that the provisional taming of the General Staff signified a reduction

in General Mediène's influence to the presidency's benefit or that

any real progress has been made toward holding the intelligence services

accountable to anyone other than their own commanders.

The Restoration of the Presidency and the Reining

In of Pluralism

The consensus that existed among the decision makers at Bouteflika's

accession in April 1999 concerned two main points. The first was the

pressing need to break out of the debilitating "quarantine" that Algeria

Hugh Roberts | 13

had been confined in by the attitudes of its main Western partners,

France above all, since January 1992 and especially since the hijacking of

the French Airbus at Algiers airport in December 1994. In this respect,

Bouteflika's accession to the presidency fitted precisely the tradition of

the military using civilian chargés de mission to front for them. As a former

and most effective foreign minister, Bouteflika was the ideal choice.

He scored early successes with the Organization of African Unity summit

held in Algiers in July 1999 and with his flamboyant state visit to Paris

in May 2000. But the public relations problem was of enormous dimensions.

For the Algerian state to be perceived once again as a legitimate

partner, it was essential to reduce the violence very appreciably.

This was the second point of consensus. It meant providing a political

and juridical framework for the deal that had already been tentatively

struck by the ANP with the Armée Islamique du Salut, and a number of

smaller armed groupings that had associated themselves with the AIS's

cease-fire since October 1997. Thus Bouteflika was authorized by the

army commanders to do the honors at home as well as abroad, by securing

the passage of the Law on Civil Concord in July 1999, which

encouraged members of armed groups to give themselves up in return for

certain guarantees, and by promulgating a decree in January 2000 providing

for a qualified amnesty for the AIS and associated armed groups

in return for their dissolution.

The controversial nature of these measures worked to Bouteflika's advantage,

since he was able to argue that the Algerian people as a whole

should be consulted. He was accordingly able to call a referendum in

September 1999 in which the electorate was invited to say whether it approved

the president's "approach" or not. The resounding "yes" vote both

secured approval for the Law on Civil Concord and for the subsequent

amnesty decree and, by endorsing Bouteflika's policy, compensated him

for his "bad election" the previous April.

While this strengthened Bouteflika's hand, he was unable to get his own

way on the composition of the new government, which was formed only

in December 1999, after months of haggling. The army commanders

vetoed his choice of Noureddine Zerhouni for defense minister (obliging

Bouteflika to retain the portfolio himself while making Zerhouni minister

of the interior) and insisted that the new government should reflect

the party-political composition of the National Assembly. Since the army

commanders effectively controlled the leaderships of the main parties (not

only the PFLN and RND but also the Berberist RCD and the Islamist

MSP), they were in effect using the system of formal political pluralism

to constrain the president and buttress their own power. The truth of the

matter was clearly stated by Bouteflika when he declared, apropos the

new cabinet: "I am forced to accept a mosaic that does not suit me."

14 | Demilitarizing Algeria

This framework of political maneuvering endured throughout

Bouteflika's first term. On the one hand, Bouteflika sought continuously

to milk the "national reconciliation" agenda to bolster domestic popular

support while seeking external endorsement and legitimation (especially

from Paris and Washington) through his orchestration of Algeria's return

to the world stage and his support for the neo-liberal agenda of economic

reform.12 At the same time, he presented himself to the army as its champion

and defender, the main, if not sole, guarantor that its commanders

would not be held to account for the "dirty war" they had conducted

against the Islamist insurgency. The persistence of international pressure

on this point, fueled by a series of sensational revelations,13 enabled

Bouteflika to bargain with the army commanders. In return for shielding

the army, he sought to get it to withdraw from the political stage

and also to reshuffle the high command and push into retirement the

generals responsible for the 1992 coup and its bloody aftermath. On the

other hand, the generals in question had no intention of going quietly

and maneuvered constantly against the president, blocking the extension

of the "national reconciliation" amnesty measures to those armed groups

still active (especially the GSPC),14 exploiting the U.S.-led "global war

on terrorism" to develop their own relations with external partners and

sources of support and legitimation in the Pentagon and NATO, provoking

lethal riots in Kabylia in the spring and summer of 2001 and then

seeking to channel the massive Kabyle protest movement that resulted

into attacking the presidency,15 quietly encouraging extraordinarily vitriolic

attacks on Bouteflika in the secularist press (notably le Matin) and,

finally, encouraging the new general secretary of the PFLN, Ali Benflis,

to run against Bouteflika in the presidential election of April 2004.

In behaving in this way, the army commanders, and Lamari and the

General Staff in particular, were acting to preserve the commanding political

power they had acquired since deposing Chadli in 1992. Seeing

the power rivalry with the presidency as a zero-sum game, they were

determined to prevent Bouteflika from securing a second term and consolidating

his position at their expense. The fact that they failed was of

historic significance. Bouteflika's success in getting reelected in April

2004-the first Algerian president to complete his first term and get a

second since Chadli Bendjedid achieved this in December 1983-was

a crucial moment in the restoration of the presidency as the substantive

and not merely formal apex of the Algerian power structure. It led directly

to the retirement of Lamari and his closest supporters in the army,

and thus the taming of the ANP General Staff, at least for the time being.

But the coalition of factions and other interests that Bouteflika put

together to support his reelection bid was an extremely heteroclite one,

and that, too, has had implications and repercussions.

Hugh Roberts | 15

A fundamental handicap for Bouteflika throughout this relentless trial

of strength was his lack of a reliable party-political relay for his position.

The two state-sponsored façade parties, the PFLN and the RND,

were coalitions in which all the main factions in the power structure

were represented, but they were ultimately controlled by the army commanders

through Major General Mohamed Mediène's DRS. Of the notionally

"opposition" parties, the docile Islamists of Mahfoud Nahnah's

Mouvement de la Société pour la Paix (MSP) and the Berber-secularists of

Saïd Sadi's RCD were, as a matter of public notoriety, inclined to take

their bearings from the military décideurs. The more independent parties,

Hocine Aït Ahmed's Front des Forces Socialistes (FFS), Abdallah Djaballah's

Mouvement de la Réforme Nationale (MRN), and Louiza Hanoune's Parti

des Travailleurs (PT), were generally supportive of Bouteflika's national

reconciliation agenda. But they were among his sharpest critics on other

issues and neither disposed nor able to support him in his duel with the

army commanders.

To drum up electoral support, Bouteflika has accordingly been inclined

to rely on organized forces outside the party system-the administration,

the state-controlled television and radio, various voluntary associations,

and the Sufi orders (which Bouteflika openly courted during his

reelection campaign)-and to rein in rather than encourage pluralism in

the formal political sphere. His national reconciliation agenda, which is

popular and which he has been intent on monopolizing, has entailed a

strategy of co-optation on the regime's Islamist and Berberist flanks, with

the docile Islamists of the MSP kept inside successive coalition governments

throughout and Thamazighth (the Berber language) at last recognized

as a national language in the constitutional revision of April 2002.

This strategy has been consistent with the tacit promotion of the recovery

of the PFLN, which regained its old status as the country's principal

party in the legislative elections of 2002. A corollary of this has been the

regime's hostility to the principled opposition parties such as Aït Ahmed's

FFS and Djaballah's MRN. The regime's concern to regain lost ground

in Kabylia has led it to promote the PFLN there at the expense of the

FFS, which is now in possibly terminal crisis. And, as part of Bouteflika's

drive to co-opt the "Islamic-nationalist" trend in opinion-an ambition

symbolized by the appointment of Abdelaziz Belkhadem to replace Ali

Benflis as the PFLN's general secretary16-the interior ministry has recently

been facilitating the takeover of the MRN by an anti-Djaballah

faction willing to accept co-optation by the regime.

This draining of vigor and combative dissent out of the party-political

sphere has had its counterpart in the press. With the end of the General

Staff vs. Presidency duel, journalists can no longer insult the president of

the republic with impunity. That was made brutally clear in June 2004

16 | Demilitarizing Algeria

when le Matin editor Mohamed Benchicou, who had been especially

virulent in his attacks on Bouteflika in the run-up to the 2004 election,17

was jailed for two years and the newspaper was forced to close. Numerous

other journalists were subsequently either jailed or subject to other forms

of harassment (notably lawsuits), especially those with the temerity to

publish articles-or even cartoons-critical of officeholders.18 And measures

taken under the "national reconciliation agenda" have gone so far as

to criminalize critical discussion of the army's behavior during the "dirty


The Uncertain Prospect

The central thrust of Bouteflika's project and impact has been the reconstruction

and rationalization of authoritarian government on the basis

of presidential power. A secondary, but very important, aspect has been

the curbing of the ferocious identity politics of the period from 1989 to

1999 by means of the effective assertion of a more inclusive conception

of the Algerian national identity. In both respects, Bouteflika has been

continuing aspects of the course charted by Liamine Zeroual, although

with more success than his predecessor. In addition, with the recovery

of the state's financial position, the regime has been able to resume in

some degree its old developmental role, notably in the renovation and

extension of the national infrastructure, a fact that has contributed to its

partial recovery of popular legitimacy.

The restoration of the power of the presidency has been premised on

a new balance between the military and civilian wings of the Algerian

oligarchy. The excessive power of the regular army commanders has been

curbed; the influence of the interior ministry has increased; the role and

size of the police force have grown; and the president's personal authority

over the government has been reasserted. In sum, the main trend has

been for the form of government in Bouteflika's Algeria to approximate

(notwithstanding certain differences) that of Hosni Mubarak's Egypt, as

Boumediène's regime at least formally approximated Nasser's.

The trend may well continue if Bouteflika secures a third five-year

term in 2009. But that would require a revision of the 1996 constitution,

which limits presidents to two terms and is accordingly controversial. In

addition, the president's health has been giving cause for concern since

his 19-day stay in a Paris clinic for treatment of an undisclosed ailment

in late 2005. Given the absence of an obvious alternative, however, a

consensus within the military and administrative elites could crystallize

in support of Bouteflika's continuation in power, at any rate for as long

as his health permits.

Hugh Roberts | 17

Reasons for doubting that the "Egyptianization" trend will continue

for long are furnished by the two most significant ways in which Algeria's

social structures and political traditions have differed historically from the

society of the Nile valley. The first is the size and political importance of

the country's mountain-dwelling populations, who furnished the human

bedrock of the national liberation struggle. The second is the comparative

weakness of the central power and, in particular, the absence of anything

resembling the pharaonic tradition of commanding personal rule.

The continuing vitality of the rebellious political traditions of the

countryside has been evident in recent years in the propensity of ordinary

Algerians to riot in protest at misgovernment and abuses of power (as in

October 1988 but also, if on a smaller scale, since then).20 It has been

particularly evident in the remobilization of the tradition of the maquis21

by the Islamist revolt of the 1990s and in the remarkable protest movement,

rooted in the mountain villages, in Kabylia from 2001 to 2004.22

But the vigor of insurgency and protest movement alike was matched

in both cases by their political incoherence and ultimate failure, and the

trend of social change, above all the relentless dynamic of urbanization, is

steadily eroding the traditional political weight of the countryside. This

trend is reflected in the composition of successive governments over the

last fifteen years as well as in the military high command, where members

of both old and new urban elites now predominate, in sharp contrast to

the patterns of the 1960s and 1970s.

More important is the absence of a tradition of strong personal power.

The accumulation of power that Boumediène brought to the presidency

was quickly dissipated under his successors. The arduous accumulation

of power that Bouteflika has been able to achieve has owed a great deal to

two very specific factors: his own remarkable talent for political maneuvering

and the fact that circumstances-the bad odor in which the army

commanders found themselves and the interest of Paris and Washington

in providing external endorsement to his position-favored his enterprise.

There is little reason to expect Bouteflika to be able to bequeath

to his successor the authority he has built up, and cause to fear that the

succession would be the occasion for a fresh intensification of factional

conflict within the political-military elite, which only the army commanders

would be able to arbitrate.

In this context, two features of the present conjuncture are especially


The first is Bouteflika's reported intention to use the planned revision

of the constitution not only to authorize a third presidential term but

also to reduce the already severely limited role and prerogatives of the national

parliament. The danger is that his drive to consolidate his personal

position as president will be at the expense of, among other things, the

18 | Demilitarizing Algeria

much-needed institutionalization of Algerian political life and the development

of the civilian component of the political class. Such a turn of

events could only favor the continued primacy of the informal sector of

Algerian politics over the formal sector and the preeminence of factionalism

and thus the absence of any serious possibility of progress toward the

rule of law for the foreseeable future.

The second is the recrudescence over the last nine months of the terrorist

activity of the GSPC coupled with its recent change of name. The

danger in this is not only that it rules out any question of a negotiated

end to the GSPC's campaign but also that it may turn out to imply the

effective end of Bouteflika's "peace and national reconciliation" agenda

and the crisis of his political project as a whole. For it could furnish a pretext

for the army commanders to try to reassert their general hegemony

over the Algerian state in the name of the global war on terrorism and at

the expense of presidential authority, the improved military-civilian balance,

and the relative order that Bouteflika had provisionally secured.

This point is of special salience in regard to the intelligence services.

The extraordinary importance and power they have acquired over the

last fifteen years has been in large part a function of their role in combating

the Islamist insurgency. A clear implication of the definitive ending

of the violence is the reduction of their influence to its previous, more

limited, proportions. Equally clearly, the resurgence of terrorism, if it

continues, will have the effect of sustaining and buttressing the political

power of the intelligence services indefinitely. That can only work to

postpone or subvert the possibility of real political reform in the medium

and longer term, insofar as it hinges for the time being on the restoration

of the presidency. For the complete recovery of presidential authority

unquestionably requires the president of the republic to be able to exercise

to the full his constitutional prerogatives as commander in chief of

the armed forces, including the power to appoint the heads of the intelligence

services-a power he still does not possess in practice.


In view of the terrible damage done to the Algerian polity by the events

of the 1990s, the relative restoration of peace and order that has taken

place under President Bouteflika was arguably as much as could realistically

be hoped for. Given the weakness of the democratic current in

Algerian political life and especially the salience of mutually antipathetic

forms of identity politics, it was inevitable that this restoration would

exhibit an authoritarian aspect. Insofar as this has involved at least partial

curbing of the power of the military, it has opened up the possibility of

interesting political reform in the medium to longer term.

Hugh Roberts | 19

There can be no doubt that the demilitarization of the Algerian polity

is a fundamental precondition of the advent of law-bound government,

let alone democracy. That is something Western governments and media

appear to have overlooked in the period of 1989 to 1991, when the precipitate

introduction of formal pluralism was greeted with a degree of enthusiasm

in Western capitals that it most certainly did not warrant. The

pluralism in question was above all that of competing forms of identity

politics, which fell far short of offering plausible programs for government

but succeeded very well in splitting public opinion into sharply opposed

camps and thus sowing the seeds of the subsequent violence. While

it made possible an unprecedented degree of public debate and press freedom

for a while, it had no other democratic implications and throughout

was subject to manipulation by the military decision makers.

At present, it would be extremely unrealistic for Western governments

to suppose that they are in a position to promote progressive political

reform in Algeria. The simplistic recipe of formal party-political pluralism

plus free elections was tried in 1989-1991 with catastrophic consequences.

The extreme crisis of the state's finances, which gave Paris

great leverage over the regime from 1988 to 1998, is a thing of the past.

Algeria's buoyant revenue from hydrocarbons and consequent financial

independence are enabling the regime to re-negotiate its relations with

its foreign partners and enlarge its ability to maneuver once more. That

is likely to rule out Western intervention in Algeria's internal politics for

the time being.

In the longer term, the necessary condition for democratization is that

the Algerian legislature acquire important decision-making powers. Only

if this happens will the legislature be able to hold the executive to account

(and thereby curb corruption) and, by so doing, guarantee the

independence of the judiciary. Only if the national parliament becomes

a real locus of decision making, in which the major interests in society

need to be effectively represented, can social pressure ensure that elections

are wholly free and fair and political parties-the kind necessary

to a democratic system of alternating governments-develop. And only

if the elected representatives of the people become the source of government

mandates can the demilitarization of the Algerian political system

be definitive.

For the moment, none of this is in prospect. The high oil price and

resulting buoyant revenue have given the "distributive state" in Algeria a

new lease on life. As a result, the regime's capacity to co-opt opposition

and buy social peace is high and the effective pressure for fundamental

institutional reform is low. The most that can be expected in the short

term is that Bouteflika's provisional success in restoring order is preserved

and that the Algerian political class and intelligentsia are able to use the

20 | Demilitarizing Algeria

continued breathing space this offers them to reflect on and draw the

right lessons from the dramatic experience of the period since 1988.

It is in the light of these considerations that the U.S. government in

particular should review its own policy toward Algeria. While it should

recognize that it cannot promote rapid positive reform, it can and should

at least abstain from jeopardizing the qualified progress that has been

made in recent years. The danger of a reversal of the recent trend to civilian

government and a remilitarization of the Algerian political system

is intimately linked to the global war on terrorism. It is important that

Washington not encourage Algeria's generals to reassert themselves in the

political sphere. To this end, the U.S. government should review its own

approach to the issue of countering terrorism in general and the Trans-

Saharan Counter-Terrorism Partnership in particular, and recognize the

need to relativize the purely military aspect of the partnership by enhancing

its developmental dimensions and thus the role of civilian leadership

in its conception and implementation.

1. The full name of the party is "Le Parti du Front de Libération Nationale" (Hizb Jebhat

al-Tahrir al-Wataniyya); thus both French and Arabic versions of the official discourse-

unlike most media and academic commentary-distinguish the party, which

was created only after independence in 1962, from the wartime FLN, which was a

front, not a party. I propose to do the same by referring to the party as the PFLN.

2. The Néo-Destour became the Destourian Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste Destourien) in

1964; the PSD became the Democratic Constitutional Rally (Rassemblement Constitutionnel

Démocratique) in 1987.

3. That is the so-called "Berber Spring" (Tafsut Imazighen), the movement of protest

against the official repression of the Berber language in March-April 1980.

4. The French term used for the factions in Algerian politics is clan (derived ultimately,

via English, from the Gaelic clann, meaning an extended family), and the factional

struggle is routinely called la lutte des clans. "Clan" is a misnomer; the factions are not

constituted on the basis of kinship ties at all. The Arabic word used for faction, jama'a

(literally "group"), does not carry this misleading connotation of kinship.

5. The HCE was the five-member directorate set up, without any constitutional warrant,

by the army commanders in January 1992 to function as a collective leadership filling

the vacant presidency for the rest of Chadli's term in office, that is, to the end of 1993.

(Its term was actually extended to end January 1994 to give the army commanders time

to agree on the succession.) Its members were Boudiaf (chairman), Nezzar, Ali Kafi, Ali

Haroun, and Tedjini Haddam. After Boudiaf 's death, Kafi succeeded him and Redha

Malek was co-opted to make up the numbers.

6. Notably the Berberist Rassemblement pour la Culture et la Démocratie (RCD), the

ex-Communist Ettahaddi (Defiance) party, subsequently renamed the Mouvement

Démocratique et Social (MDS), and Redha Malek's Alliance Nationale Républicaine

(ANR), a secular-modernist splinter from the PFLN.

7. Namely Liberté (close to the RCD) and le Matin (close to Ettahaddi-MDS), in addition

to the generally pro-army El Watan.

8. The RND was established in early 1997 to function as an alternative pro-regime façade

party to the PFLN, at that time regarded as discredited. The RND duly won a plurality

of seats in the legislative elections of June 1997 and absolute majorities in the local and

regional elections the following October. For a discussion of the amount of rigging this

involved, see Hugh Roberts, "Algeria's Contested Elections," Middle East Report 209

(Winter 1998), pp. 21-24.


22 | Demilitarizing Algeria

9. Namely two former heads of government: Mouloud Hamrouche and Mokdad Sifi, former

foreign minister Dr. Ahmed Taleb Ibrahimi, the FFS leader Hocine Aït Ahmed, the

prominent Islamist Abdallah Djaballah, and Colonel Youcef Khatib, the commander of

ALN wilaya IV (Algérois) in 1961-1962.

10. Mouloud Hamrouche (1989-1991), Sid Ahmed Ghozali (1991-1992), Belaïd Abdesselam

(1992-1993), Redha Malek (1993-1994), Mokdad Sifi (1994-1996), Ahmed

Ouyahia (1996-1998), Smaïl Hamdani (1998-1999), Ahmed Benbitour (1999-2000),

Ali Benflis (2000-2003), Ahmed Ouyahia (2003-2006), Abdelaziz Belkhadem (2006 to


11. Chadli Bendjedid (1979-1990), Khaled Nezzar (1990-1993), Liamine Zeroual (1993-

1999), Abdelaziz Bouteflika (1999 to present).

12. Bouteflika's chief success in the composition of the December 1999 government, apart

from getting Zerhouni into the interior ministry, was the appointment of three supporters,

Abdellatif Benachenhou, Hamid Temmar, and Chakib Khelil, noted for their

espousal of the "Washington consensus" in economic policy, to the ministries of Finance,

Participation (i.e., privatization), and Energy, respectively.

13. Notably books by ex-officers of the ANP: Habib Souaïdia, La Sale Guerre (Paris, La Découverte,

2001); Hichem Aboud, La Mafia des Généraux (Éditions J.C. Lattès, 2002);

Mohammed Samraoui, Chronique des Années de Sang (Paris, Denoël, 2003). A Web site

launched by the Mouvement Algérien des Officiers Libres (MAOL), a group of officers

who had deserted from the intelligence services, was the source of numerous dramatic

allegations concerning the real strategy and tactics of the DAF coterie commanding the

ANP during the 1990s. The allegations, which concerned the assassinations of President

Boudiaf and others, the use of death squads and torture, the manipulation of the

Islamist armed movements, and the implication of senior generals in massive corruption,

etc., although never properly documented, were sufficiently detailed and plausible

to be taken seriously by the Western media, in France in particular.

14. The leader of the GSPC, Hassan Hattab, was undoubtedly interested in negotiating

an end to his campaign as the AIS had done earlier. He lost control of the GSPC in

the summer of 2003 and his successors began stressing their links to Al Qaeda, which

tended to rule out any question of a negotiation.

15. That the riots, in which gendarmes killed over 100 Kabyle youths (an unprecedented

and traumatic event), were deliberately provoked is clear from the evidence documented

by the report of the Independent Commission of Enquiry chaired by distinguished

lawyer Mohand Issad. For an analysis of the Kabyle protest movement and the manipulations

that were involved, see International Crisis Group, Algeria: Unrest and Impasse

in Kabylia, Middle East/North Africa Report No. 15, Cairo/Brussels, June 10, 2003.

16. Belkhadem emerged as the leader of the Islamic current-the so-called Barbéfélènes

("the Bearded FLN")-within the party at its congress in November 1989.

17. It should be noted that, in the view of many Algerian commentators who have strong

democratic credentials, some of the attacks on Bouteflika went far beyond the limits of

fair comment and represented an abuse of freedom of speech.

18. See the report "Nouvelles peines de prison pour la presse: un autre mardi noir," El

Watan, June 15, 2005.

Hugh Roberts | 23

19. Article 46 of the decree of February 27, 2006, on the implementation of the Charter

of Peace and National Reconciliation states: "Anyone who, by speech, writing, or any

other act, uses or exploits the wounds of the National Tragedy to harm the institutions

of the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, to weaken the state, or to

undermine the good reputation of its agents who honorably served it, or to tarnish the

image of Algeria internationally, shall be punished by three to five years in prison and a

fine of 250,000 to 500,000 dinars." See the Joint Statement by Amnesty International,

Human Rights Watch, the International Center for Transitional Justice and the International

Federation for Human Rights. Algeria: New Amnesty Law Will Ensure Atrocities

Go Unpunished, Muzzles Discussion of Civil Conflict (Paris, March 1, 2006).

20. Ordinary Algerians regularly complain about la hogra, meaning the contempt with

which they are treated by office holders at every level, and local level riots against instances

of this still occur with great frequency. This refusal of la hogra is rooted in the

egalitarian code of honor characteristic of the independent tribes of the Atlas mountains.

21. That is, the tradition of guerrilla warfare. The Algerian term that translates the French

word maquis is jebel, "mountain."

22. See ICG, op. cit.





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For more about Carnegie's Democracy and Rule of Law Program, visit

Carnegie Papers


86. Demilitarizing Algeria (H. Roberts)

85. Fighting on Two Fronts: Secular Parties in the Arab World (M. Ottaway and A. Hamzawy)

84. Sufism in Central Asia: A Force for Moderation or a Cause of Politicization? (M. B. Olcott)

83. China's Economic Prospects 2006-2020 (J. He, S. Li, and S. Polaski)

82. A Face of Islam: Muhammad-Sodiq Muhammad-Yusuf (M. B. Olcott)

81. Requiem for Palestinian Reform: Clear Lessons from a Troubled Record (N. J. Brown)

80. Evaluating Political Reform in Yemen (S. Phillips)

79. Pushing toward Party Politics? Kuwait's Islamic Constitutional Movement (N. J. Brown)

78. Protecting Intellectual Property Rights in Chinese Courts: An Analysis of Recent Patent Judgments

(M. Y. Gechlik)

77. Roots of Radical Islam in Central Asia (M. B. Olcott)


76. Illusive Reform: Jordan's Stubborn Stability (J. Choucair)

75. Islamist Movements in the Arab World and the 2006 Lebanon War (A. Hamzawy and D. Bishara)

74. Jordan and Its Islamic Movement: The Limits of Inclusion? (N. Brown)

73. Intellectual Property Rights as a Key Obstacle to Russia's WTO Accession (S. Katz and M. Ocheltree)

72. Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations in the Post-9/11 Era (F. Grare)

71. Morocco: From Top-Down Reform to Democratic Transition? (M. Ottaway and M. Riley)

70. Islam, Militarism, and the 2007-2008 Elections in Pakistan (F. Grare)

69. Reform in Syria: Steering between the Chinese Model and Regime Change

68. The Saudi Labyrinth: Evaluating the Current Political Opening (A. Hamzawy)

67. Islamist Movements and the Democratic Process in the Arab World (N. Brown, A. Hamzawy, and M. Ottaway)

66. Evaluating Egyptian Reform (M. Dunne)

65. Pakistan: The Resurgence of Baluch Nationalism (F. Grare)

64. Lebanon: Finding a Path from Deadlock to Democracy (J. Choucair)


63. The Dangers of Political Exclusion: Egypt's Islamist Problem (B. Kodmani)

62. Why Did the Poorest Countries Fail to Catch Up? (B. Milanovic)

61. Legalism Sans Frontières? U.S. Rule-of-Law Aid in the Arab World (D. Mednicoff )

60. The Complexity of Success: The U.S. Role in Russian Rule of Law Reform (M. Spence)

59. Evaluating Palestinian Reform (N. Brown)

58. Judicial Reform in China: Lessons from Shanghai (V. Hung)

57. Lessons Not Learned: Problems with Western Aid for Law Reform in Postcommunist Countries (W. Channell)

56. Evaluating Middle East Reform: How Do We Know When It Is Significant?(M. Ottaway)

55. Competing Definitions of the Rule of Law: Implications for Practitioners (R. Belton)


54. E.U.-Russia Relations: Interests and Values--A European Perspective (R. Schuette)

53. The Political-Economic Conundrum: The Affinity of Economic and Political Reform

in the Middle East and North Africa (E. Bellin)

52. Political Reform in the Arab World: A New Ferment? (A. Hawthorne)

51. Cambodia Blazes a New Path to Economic Growth and Job Creation (S. Polaski)

50. Integrating Democracy Promotion into the U.S. Middle East Policy (M. Dunne)

49. Islamists in the Arab World: The Dance around Democracy (G. Fuller)

48. Democracy and Constituencies in the Arab World (M. Ottaway)

47. Development and Foreign Investment: Lessons Learned from Mexican Banking

(J. Steinfeld)

For a complete list of Carnegie Papers, go to

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