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Algeria since 1989

Algeria since 1989

James D. Le Sueur


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Algeria's democratic experiment is seminal in post-Cold War history. The first Muslim nation to attempt the transition from an authoritarian system to democratic pluralism, this North African country became a test case for reform in Africa, the Arab world and beyond. Yet when the country looked certain to become the world's first elected Islamic republic, there was a military coup and the democratic process was brought sharply to a halt. Islamists declared jihad on the state and hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed in the ensuing decade of state repression. Le Sueur shows that Algeria is at the very heart of contemporary debates about Islam and secular democracy, arguing that the stability of Algeria is crucial for the security of the wider Middle East. Algeria Since 1989 is a lively and essential examination of how the fate of one country is entwined with much greater global issues.
'Based on many years of close study of the country, the author unveils the many contradictions, complexities, and conflicts that continue to plague North Africa's most important political actor whose fate has implications for the Mediterranean region and beyond.' John P. Entelis, Fordham University 'James Le Sueur provides a striking portrait of Algeria in the 1990s that is truly remarkable for presenting a fair and balanced analysis of an extremely controversial history. While Le Sueur's account provides a full account of Algerian developments, it places these experiences within broader global contexts, making this book distinctively valuable for policy makers as well as the broader public.' John Voll, Georgetown University 'LeSueur makes an extremely valuable contribution to our understanding of contemporary Algerian history - placing this history into a broader geopolitical and sociological perspective, including the failure of democratic liberalism and the rise of political Islam and Islamic radicalism.' John Ruedy, Georgetown University
James D. Le Sueur is Associate Professor of History at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and has been a Senior Associate Member of the Middle East Centre at St Antony's College, Oxford. He is an internationally recognized expert on Algeria and political Islam, French history and decolonization. He is currently producing a documentary film on the Algerian civil war. His books include Uncivil War: Intellectuals and Identity Politics during the Decolonization of Algeria (2005) and The Decolonization Reader (2003).

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Prelims i
About the series\r i
About the author ii
Acknowledgments vi
Chronology viii
1827-1953 viii
1954 x
1955-1958 xi
1959-1962 xii
1963-1987 xiii
1988-1991 xiv
1992-1994 xv
1995-1996 xvi
1997-1999 xvii
2000-2003 xviii
2004-2006 xix
2007-2009 xx
The principals xxi
Abbreviations and acronyms xxv
Map of Algeria xxviii
Introduction: democratic reform, terrorism, and reconciliation 1
Democratic reform 2
The terror 5
National reconciliation 8
1 | Building a postcolonial state 11
The FLN, the aftermath, and the state 14
Confronting postcolonial unknowns 17
Houari Boumediene and the planned state 19
Boumediene, the economy, and society 21
Chadli Bendjedid and liberalization 26
The rise of political Islam 28
2 | The road to reform 31
The crisis of 1988 31
Co-opting the Islamists 35
The short career of the Algerian glasnost 36
Assessing the Islamists’ success and the First Gulf War 43
“The Nezzar plan”: radicalizing the Islamists 48
The December 1991 elections and the coup d’état 50
3 | The kingmakers: generals and presidents in a time of terror 53
The military gamble 54
The revolution that did not happen 57
Belaïd Abdessalam, repression, and the question of legitimacy 59
Between eradication and dialogue 64
Liamine Zeroual: from general to president 65
The 1995 presidential elections 68
4 | The Bouteflika era: civil society, peace, and sidelining generals 74
Pax Bouteflika: the law on civil concord 77
Assessing amnesty and controlling power 81
The demilitarization of state power 89
National reconciliation 90
“President for life” 94
5 | Energy and the economy of terror 98
Privatization, energy, and the First Gulf War 101
The French connection 103
International actors and the move toward privatization 105
Europe and Algerian energy 108
The downside of privatization 110
Terrorism, investment, and human rights 111
The Bouteflika imperative 114
The dual economy and security inequalities 117
The business of peace 119
6 | A genealogy of terror: local and global jihadis 122
How democracy became takfir 123
Djamal Zitouni and Air France 8969 125
GIA’s tactics under fire from al Qaeda 127
The FIS and the GIA 129
The jihad comes to France: the Paris metro bombings 130
The strange case of the murder of the Trappist monks 132
Londonistan, the Finsbury Park Mosque, and the world of spies 135
7 | The future of radical Islam: from the GSPC to AQMI 143
Hassan Hattab, the GSPC, and the global jihad 144
From millennium bomber to state’s witness: Ahmed Ressam and the GSPC in America 146
The strange ordeal of the Saharan kidnappings 150
The GSPC and the al Qaeda alliance 155
Consolidating the GSPC and denouncing reconciliation 157
The al Qaeda merger: AQMI 160
8 | Killing the messengers: Algeria’s Rushdie syndrome 169
The contagion of intolerance 170
Intellectuals and state oppression 172
Women, sport, and shorts 174
The total cultural war 178
Music and raï 182
The art of terror and the transformation of violence in exile 191
Conclusion: a historian’s reflections on amnesty in Algeria 195
The pitfalls of peace 200
Notes 207
Introduction 207
1 Building a postcolonial state 207
2 The road to reform 210
3 The kingmakers 212
4 The Bouteflika era 214
5 Energy and the economy of terror 217
6 A genealogy of terror 220
7 The future of radical Islam 222
8 Killing the messengers 225
Conclusion 228
Index 230