By Roger Annis, July 28, 2013
In Algeria in December 1991, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) handily won a national election. The country was weary of a government that had turned its back on a revolutionary nationalist legacy and progressive social policies dating back to Algeria’s independence struggle from France. Algeria won its independence in 1962 through resisting an especially violent and brutal war by a France determined to hold onto its North African colony.
Not willing to cede power to its pro-capitalist, Islamist rival party, the governing party in Algeria and the military it controlled cancelled the results of the 1991 election before Parliamentary seats could be taken. It then launched a decade-long civil war against the base of support of the FIS.
The enclosed article, dating from the year 2000, recounts that history. It is titled, ‘Algeria and the paradox of democracy: The 1992 coup, its consequences and the contemporary crisis‘. It was written by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, a scholar, investigative journalist and environment writer for The Guardian. He has written and published extensively on the Middle East.
Ahmed’s article serves as a caution and a warning today. AS of July 3, Egypt is now back under the firm control of its military, an institution largely unchanged from the days of the Mubarak regime that was overthrown in a mass revolt in 2011. Will the Egyptian military dare to launch an Algerian-style civil war against its own people? Does it have the political cohesion to do so, and how will its allies in the Middle East and its big brothers and arms suppliers in the capitals of Europe and the United States react?
I do not believe that Egypt is on the verge of entering into a civil war on the scale of Algeria. For one, the Egyptian masses have already lived a version of this, under Mubarak. They are unlikely to willingly return to such circumstances. For another, we have not yet heard decisively from important sections of Egyptian society about the events of the past month, most notably their views of the overthrow of the elected president.
But the imposition of harsh, military rule in Egypt is not a fantasy or abstract threat; it has begun. How far will it go?
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed wrote in his year-2000 article, “We should therefore reflect upon the strategy adopted by the Algerian regime, which bears an uncanny resemblance to those adopted at the insistence of the CIA by military regimes in South America (e.g. Chile and Nicaragua).”
The Algeria coup was backed by all the imperialist powers at the time. It set the stage ten years later for the full entry of the Algeria military and government into the post-9/11 ‘anti-terrorist’ fold. The country has played a key role in the past eight years in assisting the United States in militarizing the north of Africa in the name of the so-called war on terrorism. It was a key backer of the France invasion and re-colonization of Mali earlier this year.
Today, there are sharply divergent views on the international left about the legacy of the civil war in Algeria. Some progressive voices regard it as a necessary evil to block an Islamist political party from taking power. AT the bottom of this posting are links to articles by two authors with such views. The articles were recently posted to the e-news website Europe solidaire sans frontières.
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Algeria and the paradox of democracy: The 1992 coup, its consequences and the contemporary crisis
By Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, first published by Algeria International Watch, November 2000
Table of contents:
* The Military Coup and its Impact
* Indifference and Complicity of the Algerian Army
* Military Rule Under a Facade of Democracy
* The Army’s Western-Backed War on the Algerian People
* Former Algerian PM Speaks Out
* Western Interests in Algeria
The Military Coup and its Impact
In December 1991, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), an Algerian political party, had won national democratic elections, proving to be immensely popular. However, before the parliamentary seats could be taken after January 1992, the Algerian military violently overturned democracy. The parliamentary elections that would have brought the FIS to power were cancelled by the Algerian army. The army rounded up tens of thousands of Muslims who supported the winning party and threw them into concentration camps in the midst of the Sahara, to be tortured and abused. Subsequently, the army took power, democracy was eliminated, and the popular FIS was scattered. Summarising the coup, Lahouri Addi observes that “in February 1989, just months after the October 1988 riots that cost nearly a thousand lives, the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) embarked on a series of reforms, changing the Constitution to allow multipartism and alternation in power by means of elections. Yet the legalization of multipartism mainly benefited the Islamists organized into the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), which carried both the June 1990 local elections and the first round of the December 1991 national legislative races. The military suspended the process and nullified the first-round results in January 1992. Next, it forced President Chadli Benjedid to resign. Since then, Algeria has plunged into murderous strife that already has claimed more than 60,000 lives.”
As noted by John Entelis, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Middle East Program at Fordham University in New York, regarding the elections, “The Arab world had never before experienced such a genuinely populist expression of democratic aspirations… Yet when the army overturned the whole democratic experiment in January 1992, the United States willingly accepted the results… In short, a democratically elected Islamist government hostile to American hegemonic aspirations in the region… was considered unacceptable in Washington.” This was primarily because the democratically elected government was unlikely to allow the United States to use Algeria as part of its attempts to consolidate its military-economic hegemony throughout the region. Professor Entelis acknowledges that, in contrast, “More important was the army government’s willingness to collaborate with American regional ambitions”, which included “collaborating with Israel in establishing a Pax Americana in the Middle East and North Africa.”
Following this violent coup, hundreds of civilians were being mysteriously and regularly massacred by an unknown terrorist group. The newly established military regime insisted that the terrorists were members of an organisation called the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). This group was alleged to consist of disenchanted members of the former FIS who were retaliating against the newly installed regime by murdering civilians. Thus, the massacres were blamed on the GIA, a supposedly Islamic terrorist organisation defending the interests of the scattered FIS. The seizing, killing and imprisoning of FIS members and supporters has therefore been perpetrated by the new regime on the pretext of eradicating Islamic terrorism. This has led to what appears to be a veritable civil war within the country between secular government forces and armed Islamic opposition groups. Government forces routinely arrest, detain and kill Algerian citizens who are alleged to be members or supporters of the “Islamic terrorist” armed opposition. The opposition in turn routinely undertakes horrendous massacres of civilians in accordance with its alleged methodology of utilising terror to achieve political objectives. As we shall see, however, the facts are far more complicated.
The result is that Algeria today constitutes yet another humanitarian crisis to which the West remains overtly indifferent. Tens of thousands of children have been affected by a decade of ongoing violence. Since the conflict within Algeria began, hundreds of babies, children and other vulnerable civilians have been killed, often as deliberate targets, as well as indiscriminately. Thousands of children have been seriously traumatised as a result of witnessing members of their family be shot, cut to pieces, or burned alive, as well as witnessing bomb explosions and brutal military operations by security forces and armed groups.
Amnesty International reported in 1997 that the human rights crisis that followed the military coup of 1992 “has already claimed tens of thousands of lives [and] has continued to worsen. In the past year, thousands have been killed in what has been the most intense period of the conflict. Men, women and children have been slaughtered, decapitated, mutilated and burned to death in massacres. The large scale of the massacres of civilians of the past year have taken place against a background of increasingly widespread human rights abuses by government security forces, state-armed militias and armed opposition groups. Arbitrary and secret detention, unfair trial, torture and ill-treatment, including rape, ‘disappearances’, extrajudicial executions, deliberate and arbitrary killings of civilians, hostage-taking and death threats have become routine. As the toll of victims continues to rise, the climate of fear has spread through all sectors of civilian society.” By 1997, up to 80,000 people, many of them civilians, were reported to have been killed, though according to other sources, such as Algerian political parties, health workers and journalists, the number of victims was considerably higher. By 1999 this conservative figure had risen to an estimated 100,000.
Indifference and Complicity of the Algerian Army
It is crucial to note that AI has also openly admitted that the claims of the Algerian government that these massacres are being instigated by ‘Islamic terrorists’ are considerably problematic, given that most of them occurred beside government military barracks and security forces, and went on – often for hours – without any intervention. The conundrum is compounded by the sinister fact that “the Algerian authorities have systematically failed to carry out investigations and to bring those responsible to justice.”
In November 1997, Secretary General of Amnesty International, Pierre Sane, pointed out that in that year alone “Algerians have been slain in their thousands with unspeakable brutality”, “decapitated, mutilated and burned alive in their homes”, with torture, ‘disappearances’ and extrajudicial executions becoming “part of the daily reality of Algerian life”. Moreover, “many of the massacres have been within shouting distance of army barracks, yet cries for help have gone unanswered, the killers allowed to walk away unscathed”. In fact, the majority of these massacres had “taken place in areas around the capital Algiers, in the most militarised region of the country.” Often villages where such massacres occurred – sometimes for hours on end – “were close to army barracks and security forces posts. Yet the army and security forces did not intervene, neither to stop the massacres nor to arrest the killers – who were able to leave undisturbed on each occasion.” Pierre Sane puts forward a crucial question: “what action has the international community? None… This last point is as disturbing as the grizzly catalogue of abuses”.
To convey the scale and brutality of the massacres, Sane cites several examples from 1997: “on the night of 11 July in Bou-Ismail, west of Algiers, a family of 12 were massacred”; “on the night of 28 August in Rais, south of Algiers, up to 300 people, many of them women and children, even small babies, were killed and more than 100 injured”; “on the night of 5 September in Sidi Youssef, on the outskirts of Algiers, more than 60 people were massacred”; “on the night of 22 September in Bentalha, south of Algiers, more than 200 men, women and children were massacred”; “in the past few weeks, hundreds more have been killed in a series of massacres of a dozen or more people at a time”.
Sane adds that although there have been “recent statements by the UN Secretary General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNICEF and UNHCR condemning the massacres of civilians and other human rights abuses in Algeria” these “words are welcome, but start to sound hollow when they are followed only by the hedging of governments and not by action.” Thus, despite the huge humanitarian catastrophe in Algeria, Western governments have studiously ignored the escalating crisis, to the extent that they refuse to even place Algeria under viable international pressure. Likewise, the Western mass media, complying with highly questionable Western government policies, also largely ignore the crisis.
Thus, the Algerian crisis continues. In 1998 AI reported that thousands of civilians were killed; some extrajudicially executed by security forces and militias armed by the state; others killed by armed groups defining themselves as ‘Islamic’: “Thousands of people, including possible prisoners of conscience, were detained; many were released without charge and hundreds were charged under the ‘anti-terrorist’ law. Hundreds of people arrested in previous years were sentenced to prison terms after unfair trials. Hundreds of people remained detained without trial. Torture and ill-treatment by security forces remained widespread, especially during secret detention but also in prisons. Torture, including rape, by armed groups also continued. Dozens of people ‘disappeared’ after arrest by security forces. Thousands of people who ‘disappeared’ in previous years remained unaccounted for. Scores of people were abducted by armed groups. Hundreds of people were sentenced to death, the vast majority in absentia. Hundreds of others remained under sentence of death.”
According to the AI annual report of 1998, “most of the massacres took place near the capital, Algiers, and in the Bilder and Medea regions, in the most heavily militarised part of the country. Often, massacres were committed in villages situated close to army barracks and security forces posts, and in some cases survivors reported that army security forces were stationed nearby.” The report also indicates that “the killings often lasted several hours, but the army and security forces failed to intervene to stop the massacres, and allowed the attackers to leave undisturbed.” Moreover, despite denials by Algerian government officials of this combination of Algerian military complicity and indifference, witness accounts abound to contradict such denials, and instead serve to prove the military’s complicity. Further revealing is the flagrant, obviously deliberate and systematic refusal of the Algerian authorities to protect civilians and investigate the massacres. According to AI, “more and more people are dying in Algeria than anywhere else in the Middle East. Time and time again, no one is brought before a court of law. There is just a statement released to the press, that the killer of killers has been killed.”
Unfortunately, the violence has continued up to and throughout the year 2000, diminishing considerably in 1999, but later escalating back to the 1997-8 levels. Reporting in December 2000, Amnesty confirmed that “Although the international community has largely tended to ignore the continuing high level of violence in Algeria, an average of between 200 and 300 people have been killed every month throughout this year.” In one single episode on the night of 18-19 December, “a group of men armed with knives and axes entered a coastal village near Ténès, west of Algiers, and hacked to death 22 men, women and infant children before decapitating their bodies. Two nights previously at least 16 schoolchildren, aged between 15 and 18, and their supervisor were shot dead in the dormitory of their boarding school in the town of Medea, 80 kms south of the capital. On both these occasions the perpetrators managed to escape without being apprehended. The same is true for virtually all other such incidents.” A leaked Algerian army report confirms that 9,200 people were killed in the year 2000 alone. The massacres have continued consistently, with 27 civilians killed at the beginning of February 2001, including eight women and 13 children aged between six months and 14 years. The victims were slaughtered in the shanty town of Berrouaghia 60 miles south of Algiers.
Crucially, the vast majority of the victims of these massacres have not been non-Muslims, secularists or supporters of the new Algerian regime, as one would expect if the perpetrators were actually former members of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS). The victims have almost entirely been poor villagers and shantytown dwellers – the very Muslim people who voted overwhelmingly for the FIS. High-ranking officials or members of the pro-Algerian regime elite have rarely been victims. For instance, no atrocities have been committed in the area of Club Des Pines, which was recently turned into a high-class city on the outskirts of the capital. Government officials, army chiefs and pro-government party leaders reside there. Why would the FIS massacre its own supporters, its own popular base, rather than its real enemy in the new Algerian elite? There have also been accounts reported on the authority of physicians working in hospitals where the dead and wounded are received, stating that “the dead from those who commit these horrible crimes were not circumcised.” Yet circumcision is standard for all Muslim males in Algeria. This implies that the perpetrators were not Muslim – and therefore not Islamist terrorists. The FIS itself, along with other opposition parties, accuses the Algerian government’s security forces of masterminding the massacres, especially in light of the government’s refusal to establish an independent investigation into the atrocities, which the FIS has been demanding. These points expose the inconsistency in the notion that the GIA is a radical Islamic offshoot of the FIS.
Military Rule Under a Facade of Democracy
Apparent moves toward democracy by the junta have also been insignificant in terms of resolving the crisis. Presidential elections were held on 16 November 1995 and of course were hailed widely as a success in the West. However, they have been largely irrelevant for the Algerian people at large. “Even though the principal opposition parties (most notably the FIS and the FFS) refused to participate, the balloting raised high expectations among voters, who hoped that incumbent president Liamine Zeroual (a retired general and the army’s designated candidate) would emerge with strengthened legitimacy and be able to make the military accept a political solution similar to the one outlined in the Rome Platform [when the six main ‘warring’ parties met in Rome to sign a pact to end the crisis in January 1995 – the military rejected the pact]. On election day, three-quarters of the country’s 16 million eligible voters turned out, and Zeroual won a 61 percent majority. Although widely hailed as a success, this election actually has solved nothing. Zeroual has not been able to assert control over the army, the national dialogue that he promised has broken down, and deadly violence continues to rage. In May 1996, the president promised legislative elections for early 1997, but the opposition parties dismissed his announcement as a maneuver to buy time.”
Meanwhile, access to Algeria throughout 1998 was refused for the UN Special Rapporteurs on torture and on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. Access was also refused for Amnesty International and other international human rights organisations. Calls by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Union, the G8 and others for the Special Rapporteurs to be allowed to visit the country to investigate human rights issues were rejected by the Algerian government, including an attempt by the UN Secretary-General to discuss the situation. However, the third visit to Algeria by an international body had occurred between 22 July and 4 August 1998. The body was a UN ‘panel’ headed by former Portugese President Mario Soares, visiting the country on what was called an “information-gathering mission”; yet, it was without any legal investigative mandate or authority. Amnesty International concluded that “like previous political initiatives of this kind, notably visits by EU Troika and by the European Parliament at the beginning of this year, the UN Panel’s visit was irrelevant to the human rights situation in Algeria.” Later, by January 1999, Algeria’s democratically elected President was, “in a chilling deja vu,” forced to relinquish his office “by the same generals who had forced the resignation of his predecessor in 1992”. Similarly, the April 1999 election of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has proven insignificant in terms of providing a genuine resolution to the crisis in a peaceful political framework.
The French prime minister Lionel Jospin has attempted to explain away the clear indifference of the Western powers to the Algerian crisis, claiming that: “We don’t really know how to explain what is happening… it is not like Pinochet’s Chile where democrats were fighting a dictatorial power.” He added: “There is a fanatic and violent opposition fighting a power which itself in a certain way uses violence and the force of the State. So we are obliged to be rather prudent.” Unfortunately for him and the Algerian junta’s other friends in the US, EU and their Arab client-regimes, the evidence contradicts his effective political appeasement of the junta’s policies.
The Army’s Western-Backed War on the Algerian People
We should therefore reflect upon the strategy adopted by the Algerian regime, which bears an uncanny resemblance to those adopted at the insistence of the CIA by military regimes in South America (e.g. Chile and Nicaragua). According to Ben Lombardi, who is with the Directorate of Strategic Analysis at the Department of National Defence in Ottawa, Canada: “In 1991, the West supported the coup in Algeria in an effort to prevent Islamic fundamentalists coming to power through the ballot box.” Dr. Hamoue Amirouche, a former fellow of the Institut National d’Etudes de Strategie Globale (Algiers), noted at the beginning of 1998 that “the military regime” thus supported by the West, “is perpetuating itself by fabricating and nourishing a mysterious monster to fight, but it is demonstrating daily its failure to perform its most elementary duty: providing security for the population. In October 1997, troubling reports suggested that a faction of the army, dubbed the ‘land mafia’, might actually be responsible for some of last summer’s massacres, which… continued even after the Islamic Salvation Army, the armed wing of the FIS, called for a truce, in effect as of October 1, 1997.” The French magazine Paris Match reported that this “land mafia”, consisting of elements of the Algerian military regime, was cleansing premium lands of peasant occupants in anticipation of the privatisation of all the land in 1998.
The appalling record thus confirms the complicity of the Algerian authorities and the Western governments supporting them. The Independent reported in 1997 that “GIA men – or those claiming to be its members – have attacked Algerian villages for more than a year, cutting the throats of women and children, burning babies alive in ovens, disembowelling pregnant women and slaughtering old men with axes. They have even employed a mobile guillotine on the back of a truck to execute their enemies. But evidence that the massacred villagers were themselves Islamists, and increasing proof that the Algerian security forces remained – at best – incapable of coming to their rescue, has cast grave doubt on the government’s role in Algeria’s dirty war.” A short report on 10 November 1997 by the UK-based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) refers to the similar findings of other investigators. IHRC points out that a series of articles in the British press on the situation in Algeria “have revealed that the Algerian secret services have been deliberately massacring its citizens, and orchestrating bombing campaigns in France to discredit Islamists.” The so-called GIA is apparently part and parcel of the Algerian regime’s propaganda campaign. Particularly, the Observer reported that an Algerian informer “claims that European MPs, and journalists regularly received bribes from the Algerian authorities.” Investigators the IHRC refers to include Robert Fisk in the Independent and John Sweeney in the Observer, who “have all produced separate work on this issue, which has been well-known in human rights circles for some time.”
The IHRC bulletin goes on to cite an Agence France Press (AFP) report which noted: “Bomb attacks that killed eight people in Paris in 1995 were carried out by the Algerian secret service, according to a press report on Sunday… The Observer quoted an Algerian asylum-seeker in Britain – who claimed he was a former agent in Algeria’s secret service – as saying the Paris bombs were part of a black propaganda war aimed at galvanising French public opinion against Islamic militants… The man, named only as Yussuf, told the paper that the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) – on whom both the Paris bombs and frequent massacres in Algeria have been blamed – was ‘a pure product of (the Algerian) secret service.’… Yussuf said Algerian intelligence agents routinely bribed European police, journalists and members of parliament… And he claimed to have personally delivered a suitcase containing $90,000 to a former French member of parliament ‘with strong links to the French intelligence services.’… Yussuf added that the killings of many foreigners in Algeria were organised by the secret police and not by Islamic extremists.”
Similarly, reports by British journalists John Sweeney and Leonard Doyle reveal the complicity of both the Algerian state and the West in the Algerian crisis. Sweeney and Doyle report that according to defectors from the Algerian security forces, “The relentless massacres in Algeria are the work of secret police and army death squads. Algerian intelligence agents routinely bribe European police, journalists and MPs” via “Algeria’s oil and gas billions”. The testimony of these defectors supports the conclusion that “the constant terror in which civilians live is orchestrated by two shadowy figures”; these being “the heads of the Algerian secret service, the DRS and its sub-department, the counter intelligence agency, the DCE.” According to a former Algerian diplomat Mohammad Larbi Zitout: “The GIA has been infiltrated and manipulated by the government. The GIA has been completely turned by the government.” Zitout also testified that the regime is behind the massacres. A former career secret service officer in Algeria’s military security, Yussuf-Joseph, reveals: “All the intelligence services in Europe know the government [of Algeria is responsible] for the massacres, in which tens of thousands of Algerians have been killed [and which] have been carried out by the regime’s death squads.” Meanwhile, he confirms, European intelligence services “are keeping quiet because they want to protect their supplies of oil.”
The evidence of this twin Algerian and European governmental complicity in Algeria’s humanitarian crisis only mounts. Robert Fisk, for instance, recorded the testimony of ‘Dalilah’, an Algerian policewoman who was witness to the torture and executions carried out by the Algerian intelligence services: “They tortured people – I saw this happening,” she stated. “I saw innocent people tortured like wild animals… They executed people… people who had done nothing. They had been denounced by people who didn’t get along with them. People just said ‘He’s a terrorist’ and the man would be executed…. They tied young people to a ladder with rope. They were always shirtless, sometimes naked. They put a rag over their face. Then they forced salty water into them. There was a tap with a pipe that they stuck in the prisoner’s throat and they ran the water until the prisoners’ bellies had swelled right up… Sometimes while this happened, the torturers would put broomsticks up their anuses. Some of the prisoners had beards, some didn’t. They were all poor… Any cop would hit the prisoners with the butt of his Kalash (rifle). Some of the prisoners went completely mad from being tortured. Everyone who was brought to the Cavignac was tortured – around 70 per cent of the cops there saw all this. They participated. Although the torture was the job of the judiciary police, the others joined in. The prisoners would be 20 to 30 to a cell and they would be brought one by one to the ladder, kicked in the ribs all the time. It was inhuman. In the cells, the prisoners got a piece of bread every two days. There was no medicine. Every prisoner, according to the law, has the right to a doctor. But they would be returned to their cells covered in blood.”
Fisk comments: “For more than four years released prisoners have told us of water torture and beatings, of suffocation with rags, of how their nails were ripped out by interrogators, of how women were gang-raped by policemen, of secret executions in police stations.” He gives several typical examples: “A police officer who was in charge of the Algiers’ city police armoury has described to The Independent how his colleagues killed prisoners in cold blood, how police torturers suffocated prisoners with acid-soaked rags after tearing out their nails and raping them with bottles. A 30-year old Algiers policewoman has told of how she watched prisoners – at the rate of 12 a day – tied half-naked to ladders in the Cavignac police station in Algiers while, screaming and pleading for mercy, salt water was pumped into their stomachs until they agreed, blindfolded, to sign confessions. The same policewoman admitted to signing false death certificates to prove that dead prisoners had been ‘found’ decomposing in the forests south of Algiers. A 23-year old army conscript spoke of watching officers torture suspected ‘Islamist’ prisoners by boring holes in their legs – and in one case, stomach – with electric drills in a dungeon called the ‘killing room’. And he claimed that he found a false beard amid the clothing of soldiers who had returned from a raid on a village where 28 civilians were later found beheaded; the soldier suspects that his comrades had dressed up as Muslim rebels to carry out the atrocity.”
A former Algerian secret service officer known as Captain ‘Haroune’ – who was authenticated by the British Foreign Office – had also defected, left Algeria, and sought asylum in London. He informed a British House of Commons all-party committee that his ex-colleagues carried out “dirty jobs, including killing of journalists, officers and children”. He confessed, for instance, that the murder of seven Italians in Jenjen in July 1994 was perpetrated by state military security death squads, in order to blacken the name of “Islamic fundamentalists”. Arrested suspects for the murder are merely scapegoats who were forced to sign confessions under torture. The former Algerian agent also testified in 1998 that “It’s the army which is responsible for the massacres; it’s the army which executes the massacres; not the regular soldiers, but a special unit under the orders of the generals. It should be remembered the lands are being privatized, and land is very important. One has first to chase people from their land so that land can be acquired cheaply. And then there must be a certain dose of terror in order to govern the Algerian people and remain in power. A Chinese saying tells that a picture is worth a thousand words. I could not stand the image of a young girl having her throat slit. I could not bear seeing what happened and not tell it. I have children, imagine what this girl had to suffer, the last 10 seconds of her life must have been horrible. I think it’s our duty to speak up about this. I speak today in the hope that others would do the same, so that things change, and so that these killings cease.”
Subsequent reports have only continued to provide further confirmation of all this. For example, in November 1997, a serving officer with the Algerian military known as ‘Hakim’ contacted the French newspaper Le Monde to express the feelings of a group of officers who were sickened by their work. “We have become assassins, working for a caste of crooks who infest the military”, stated Hakim. “They want everything: oil, control of imports, property”. Hakim testified that the murder of seven monks in Algeria on 23 May 1996 – which was blamed on Islamists – had in fact been a hit staged by the Algerian secret police. He also told Le Monde: “I confirm that the outrages of St Michel (in which eight were killed and more than 130 people wounded on 25 July 1995) and that of Maison Blanche (when 13 were wounded on 6 October 1995) were committed at the instigation of the Infiltration and Manipulation Directorate (DIM) of the Directorate of the Intelligence Service (DRS), controlled by Mohammed Mediene, better known under the name ‘Toufik’ and General Smain Lamari.” The objective of the operation had been to “win over public opinion in discrediting the Islamists”. He observed that although Djamel Zitouni – leader of the GIA – was presented as “public enemy number one”, he was in fact a creation of the regime’s military security. “He was recruited in 1991 in an internment camp in the south of Algeria, where thousands of Islamists had been imprisoned.” According to Hakim, the junta had used Djamel to win control over the GIA in 1994. The GIA leader “had been under our control until the Tibehrine affair. The monks were to have been found in the village of an Islamic chief, who would be blamed. For reasons I do not know, he did not respect the contract. So he was liquidated.” Hakim’s revelations regarding the policies of the Algerian authorities soon led to his own liquidation. The Observer reports that “Hakim was tracked down by the Algerian secret police shortly after he contacted Le Monde. They took away his diplomatic passport and sent him to the south – to the Sahara. His family were placed under close watch and were very frightened. (At no time have Hakim’s family been in touch with The Observer.) Then they heard he had been killed in a helicopter accident.”
Indeed, according to the Sunday Times, “One of the worst atrocities occurred in the first three weeks of 1998, when more than 1,000 villagers were massacred, many within 500 yards of an army base that did not deploy a single soldier, despite the fact that the gunfire and screams would have been clearly audible. Villagers said that some of the attackers wore army uniforms.” In the same year, the Observer once more cited “damning evidence contradicting the official line of the Algerian government”. Yet further testimony, this time from Algerian policemen, “gave detailed evidence of the state’s involvement in a whole range of human rights abuses: massacre by military security death squads, torture of the regime’s opponents, spying, and the murder of difficult journalists and popular entertainers to blacken the name of the Islamic activists in carefully organized psychological warfare.”
Former Algerian PM Speaks Out
Further authoritative testimony comes from former Algerian Prime Minister (1984-1988), Dr. Abdel Hameed Al Ibrahimi, a member of the National Liberation Front responsible for consolidating military rule and now Director of a London-based centre for the study of North African affairs. In an interview with Yasser Za’atreh of the London monthly Palestine Times, the former Algerian PM has provided crucial confirmation of the reality of the current Algerian situation: “The crisis in Algeria which was created by the military coup in January 1992 still exists and is becoming worse and more complicated… because the present regime is still insisting on using force and suppression to remain in power and to preserve the illegal benefits it gained at the expense of the general interests of the Algerian people. [T]he regime does not want a true political solution. Instead, it insists on a military solution despite the deterioration of security and economic and social conditions in the country… As for the Islamic armed groups, they are penetrated by the military intelligence service. It is known that most of the mass killings and bombings are made by the government itself whether through special forces or through the local militias (about 200,000 armed men), but the government accuses the Islamists of the violence. All know that the victims of the mass killings are Islamists or ordinary citizens well-known for their support of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS). Bombings always occur in quarters known to be affiliated with the FIS.”
Al Ibrahimi added that: “As a member of the National Liberation Front, and according to definite information, I am sure that the FIS is absolutely not responsible for such savage and criminal atrocities. On the contrary, the FIS is a victim of these atrocities and has condemned them on several occasions.” According to the former Algerian Prime Minister, the current junta’s objectives are as follows:
· To wreak vengeance on members and supporters of the FIS until they give up their political ambitions;
· To terrify the Algerian people who suffer from the deterioration of the security and socio-economic conditions in the country in order to force them to accept the political and dictatorial policy of the present regime;
· To deform, locally and abroad, the picture of the FIS and the Islamic project in general;
· To mislead international public opinion so that the regime could obtain additional financial, political, and diplomatic support from France and other Western countries. The regime wants to show itself as the defender of the West against fundamentalism in Algeria and as an acclaimed partner in defending the French and Western interests in the region.
These allegations have been most recently confirmed by the detailed testimony of former special forces officer in the Algerian Army, Second Lieutenant Habib Souaidia, in his book The Dirty War. Souaidia’s book exposes the part the army has played in liquidating the opposition through testimonies regarding the military regime. “When I enlisted in the army in 1989, I never imagined that I would be a direct witness of the tragedy that has befallen my country … I have seen my colleagues set fire to a boy of 15, who burned like a living torch. I have seen soldiers slaughtering civilians and blaming ‘the terrorists.’ I have seen senior officers murdering in cold blood simple people who were suspected of Islamic activities. I have seen officers torturing Islamic activists to death. I have seen too many things. I cannot remain silent. These are sufficient reasons for breaking my silence.” One example of his direct knowledge of army atrocities against civilians is particularly pertinent.
“It happened one night in March, 1993,” he relates. “After I finished my shift I was summoned to my commanding officer, Major Daoud. He ordered me to take my people to guard a truck on its way to one of the villages. I went outside and I saw the truck. I peeked inside and saw the silhouettes of dozens of commando fighters from one of the special units. They were carrying knives and grenades. I was told that they were on their way to a ‘special mission’.
“I drove behind the truck until it stopped in the village of Dawar Azatariya where the inhabitants were suspected of supporting the FIS movement. I was asked to remain with my men outside the village. Two hours later the truck came back. One of the officers took a blood-stained knife that he held near his throat, making a sweeping side to side motion. I didn’t need any additional signs to understand what had happened in the village. Two days later there were headlines in the Algerian press: ‘Islamic attack in Dawar Azatariya. Dozens killed in the massacre.’ I couldn’t believe my eyes. I felt that I had been an accomplice to a terrible crime.” Souadia reveals that several Western powers are supporting the Algerian regime – at the top of his list of such countries who are shoring up the regime is France. “I wanted to write about the dirty war that was directed against innocent civilians, whose only crime was that they were well-disposed toward Islam. This war is still going on. Thus far more than 150,000 people have been killed, and those responsible for this crime are the generals who head the army. They are fighting to defend their rule and the enormous amount of property they have accumulated… France has given me political asylum, but this cannot prevent me from declaring that it has abetted the murderous generals to protect its interests.” An outraged group of prominent French and North African intellectuals denounced the West’s support for the Algerian regime as ” complicity in crimes against humanity”, and commented in the French daily Le Monde: “For too long the French government has supported Algerian policy which, under cover of a fight against terrorism, aims at nothing less than the eradication, both political and physical, of any opposition whatsoever.”
One can understand the West’s tacit support of the Algerian regime, given that European access to Algerian resources such as oil would have been jeopardised by an Islamic government – simply because a genuinely Islamic government would mobilise domestic resources for the benefit of the population, as opposed to allowing them to be plundered by Western investors. The evidence shows that the massacres in Algeria have been organised by the Algerian authorities to further various self-interested political and economical designs, that Western intelligence agencies are aware that this is the case, and have expressed their tacit approval of the regime’s policies due to the West’s own strategic, political and economic interests in the region. As for the massacres, it appears that they play the role of providing justification for the regime’s elimination of the FIS and any other Islamic political parties (i.e. all viable political opposition to the regime); to terrorise the Algerian population into withdrawing its support of these parties; and to legitimise the militarised and dictatorial conditions of Algeria’s ‘state of emergency’ under the guise of fighting terrorists. As Habib Souaidia observes the policy is rooted in the fact that “The generals want to stay in power. To justify that, the war has to continue, so we can say to the international community, ‘Look, these are the terrorists we are fighting against, look what they do. We need help, give us money’.”
Indeed, Western support for the Algerian regime is clearly documented. For example, British journalist Robert Fisk reported as early as 1994 that “France has been giving covert military support to the Algerian regime for months.” “Helicopters, night sight technology for aerial surveillance of guerrilla hide outs and other equipment” were included in this support, having “been sent to the Algerian army, some aboard French military flights which reportedly make regular flights into Algiers airport… According to well placed Algerian sources, the son of a French government minister is involved. He is said to run a private security company outside Paris which has legally sold millions of francs worth of equipment to the Algerian security police.” Additionally Fisk reported that “French spy agencies monitor all Algerian radio traffic round the clock, much of it from a ship off the coast of France’s former African colony,” listening “day and night to the reports of Algerian commanders in the Lakhdaria mountains and the ‘Bled’, the Algerian outback”. This work is “supplemented by radio signals picked up aboard French air force planes flying along the Algerian coast, and by intelligence officers inside the heavily guarded French embassy in Algiers.” Furthermore, “France has acknowledged selling nine Ecureuil helicopters to the Algerian government” claiming “that the machines were sent to Algeria for ‘civil’ purposes – thereby avoiding statutory investigation by the French interministerial commission for the inspection of military exports. Military sources say helicopters have only to be equipped with rockets and night sight equipment, also provided by France, to become front line equipment in the anti guerrilla struggle.”
Fisk added that the initial “French hesitation over the annulment of the poll [in 1992] turned into tacit support for the regime – especially from the French Interior Minister, Mr Charles Pasqua – once the implications of an Islamic takeover in Algeria became apparent.” Support of the tyrannical Algerian military regime has therefore been absurdly legitimised in the name of fighting “international Islamic terrorism”. Other Western powers have followed through with similar policies, including Britain, which in the year 2000 sold through the government of Qatar, “almost £5m in military equipment to the Algerian army, despite a record of atrocities committed by its soldiers that contravenes the ethical foreign policy espoused by Robin Cook, the foreign secretary,” as the Sunday Times reported. “The order, worth £4.6m, is destined to improve the capabilities of the Algerian army.”
The US has followed a similar brand of policy designed to shore up the Algerian regime. US-Algerian military ties have been steadily deepening, even as the Algeriam military escalates its brutal repression of the population. For instance, while senior American naval officers have paid high profile visits to the country, the American and Algerian navies have successfully conducted joint marine rescue exercises in the Mediterranean Sea. In September 1999 US Sixth Fleet Admiral Daniel Murphy met President Bouteflika and army chief of staff Lieutenant-General Mohamed Lamari in Algiers. As Middle East specialist John Entelis reports, “such visits serve to advance diplomatic ties and strengthen military links between the two countries.” Murphy openly lauded US-Algerian military ties, particularly the possibility of “cementing a permanent military program of Algerian and United States interaction”. Meanwhile, US-Algeria relations are to involve establishing “conditions [which] will allow regular US Navy port visits to Algeria and inclusion of the Algerian navy in multilateral operations and training programs.” Professor Entelis comments that: “Such overt US demonstration of political-military support for a regime universally accused of massive human rights violations in which security forces, military units, and armed militias have been implicated in the deaths and disappearances of thousands of Algerian men and women seems not to have bothered at all American foreign policy decision-makers.”
Thus, rather than exerting significant pressures on the Algerian government to put an end to the humanitarian catastrophe, the West has been doing the very opposite. Western powers without objection from their allies are supplying the tyrannical regime with military aid, thereby directly supporting its mass killing and repression of its own citizens under the false justification of “eradicating” Islamic terrorists. As ABC News correspondent John K. Cooley reports, those “known as advocates of ‘eradication’ of the Islamists through ruthless and total repression, have generally enjoyed support from the US, France and other foreign countries with heavy investment in Algeria.”
Western Interests in Algeria
Accordingly, Western governments including Britain, have been supporting the Algerian regime, along with its repressive polices and the atrocites committed by its security forces, by supplying it with heavy financial aid. It so happens that this financial support of Algeria only emerged after the overturning of democracy via the military coup had transpired, and once the new military dictatorship was in power. For example, rather than demanding an end to the killings, the European Union decided to release ECU 60 million (some $65 million) to the Algerian generals within the MEDA programme. The agreement signed between the regime and the European Union on 2 December 1996 concerns a global loan package worth ECU 125 million, conditional upon the conformity to the traditional structural reforms in Algeria, as supervised by the IMF and World Bank, thus ripping the country open to the privatisation which invites the desired Western investment. This financial support of the junta is designed primarily to foster Western corporate investments in the country, while simultaneously enriching the Algerian military elite.
The Western powers clearly have interests in ensuring that a government that is entirely open to Western investment and fundamentally opposed to egalitarian gains remains in power, in the name of ‘maintaining the disparity’: preventing other populations from using their own raw materials for independent egalitarian development, by plundering their domestic resources for the enrichment of Western elites. That the FIS would have posed a significant danger to Western corporate interests in Algeria was revealed in fliers released after the first-round electoral victory of January 1992: “Wealth redistribution, taking from the rich to provide for the needs of the people.”
Most importantly in this regard, we should consider the enormous entrenchment of Western – particularly French – multinational corporations in Algerian gas and oil. These interests would have been jeopardised by a popular Islamic government that mobilised such domestic resources for independent egalitarian gains: Algeria has the fifth largest reserves of natural gas in the world, and is the second largest gas exporter, with 130 trillion proven natural gas reserves; it ranks fourteenth for oil reserves, with official estimates at 9.2 billion barrels. Approximately 90 per cent of Algeria’s crude oil exports go to Western Europe, including Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Britain. Algeria’s major trading partners are Italy, France, the United States, Germany and Spain. The United States Energy Information Administration (USEIA) states clearly that: “Algeria is important to world energy reserve markets because it is a significant oil and gas producer and exporter. Algeria also is a member of the OPEC and an important energy source for Europe.”
Hugh Roberts, Senior Research Fellow of the Development Studies Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London) has rightly referred to France’s particular desire to maintain Algeria’s position as a dependent client state: “The reality is that France has an enormous strategic stake in North Africa, and wants Algeria to remain a chasse gardee.” He goes on to remind us how France has “played both ends against the middle, giving support to the extreme anti-Islamist hard line faction in the army…, encouraging calls for the re-legalization of the FIS a year ago … then switching back to support the ‘eradicators’…”
Confirming the French policies that have similar counterparts being undertaken by other Western allies, Moroccan analyst Abdelilah Balkaziz reports that “French policy, which has always striven to present itself as a champion of democracy and human rights, is unabashedly supporting military regimes that have broken all records in their violation of human rights, to the point of sweeping away the legitimate legislative authority in Algeria! Curiouser still is the fact that French politicians, both rightists and socialists, [are] backing, in the process, regimes hatched in military barracks.” However, France is joined by the US in the Western attempt to dominate the country. Balkaziz goes on to conclude that: “While France is seeking a Francophone Arab Maghreb that makes it feel the extension of its cultural and linguistic interests, the United States is seeking an Arab Maghreb market for its goods and an Arab Maghreb military foothold for its Mediterranean strategy against an emerging united Europe. So it doesn’t care who rules the Arab Maghreb – the bearded elites or the allied elites – as long as its interests are protected.” Evidently therefore, the current ‘protectors’ of US/Western interests in Algeria are the secular Algerian military, state-terror et. al. The implications have been expressed well by British journalist John Sweeney who aptly describes the 100,000 deaths in Algeria as “Europe’s gas bill”.
The independent Muslim media has thus summarised the various interests of the Western powers in Algeria, which appear to have motivated their support of the regime, regardless of the decimating effects of this on the Algerian masses: “One is the uninterrupted flow of oil and gas at throw-away prices. Both France and the US are involved in exploration there. This also extends to other oil producing countries in the region – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates et al. The other is the west’s pathological hatred of Islam. A FIS victory would have brought committed Muslims to power in a country which lies only a stone’s throw away from Europe. This was unacceptable to the west. The FIS promised such ‘dangerous’ policies as a corruption-free government, jobs for the millions of unemployed and a society based on morality. The west would rather have a corrupt, brutal junta in power than a clean, efficient FIS which is not subservient to the west. When it comes to its interests, the west is quite prepared to abandon its self-proclaimed ‘principles’. It clamours for democracy in Burma, castigating the junta for not respecting the wishes of the people, but backs the junta in Algeria.”
Indeed, the accuracy of this analysis is borne out by the simple facts of US economic policy towards Algeria since the coup – policy which remains largely unpublicised. International journalist John Cooley, a correspondent for ABC News who specialises in North Africa and Middle East affairs, reports in detail: “Though neither their companies nor the US government like to publicize their role or their presence in war-torn Algeria, the 500 to 600 American engineers and technicians living and working behind barbed wire in these protected gas and oil enclaves in Algeria may be one of the main reasons why Usama bin Laden or other international manipulators of terrorism were unable, or unwilling, to strike at this principal US interest and investment in North Africa. This little-publicized but heavy US commercial involvement in Algeria began in earnest, not when the French oil companies were forced by Algerian independence to withdraw from their monopoly positions after in 1962, but rather in 1991” – i.e. at the dawn of the army’s insurgency. “In December 1991 the Algerian state opened the energy sector on liberal terms to foreign investors and operators. About 30 oil and gas fields have been attributed to foreign companies since then. The main American firms involved, Arco, Exxon, Oryx, Anadarko, Mobil and Sun Oil received exploration permits, often in association with European firms like Agip, BP, Cepsa or the Korean group Daewoo… The majority of oil and gas exports go to nearby Europe… the main clients in the late 1990s [being] France, Belgium, Spain and Italy.”
The exploitation of Algerian resources by the United States has continued to intensify. On 18 April 2000, US Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs Alan P. Larson hosted a successful ministerial business symposium for the US-North Africa Economic Partnership. The Algerian Finance Minister Abdelatif Benachenhou, and Central Bank Governor Abdellatif Keramane, were among the leaders of North African countries “who spoke to representatives of more than 90 US companies about opportunities for investment in North Africa and economic developments there.” Other US government participants included Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Stuart E. Eizenstat, Assistant Secretary of Commerce Pat Mulloy, and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) Vice President Joan Logue-Kender, and representatives of the Office of the US Trade Representative, the US Agency for International Development and the Trade and Development Agency. Accordingly, yhe US-North Africa Economic Partnership was launched by the US in 1998 with the aim of “encouraging private sector-led growth and regional economic integration in the Maghreb”, with the Algerian regime playing a crucial role in the Partnership. The Partnership has “aimed at promoting economic reform and liberalization”, primarily to provide Maghreb governments including Algeria “with a platform from which to engage with potential US investors.” Technical assistance and training programmes are designed to extend Western economic hegemony in the region by improving “their business and investment climates.” As a result of this intense fostering of foreign investment in the region, constituting a veritable Western corporate invasion, “US government trade and investment agencies have stepped up their activities in the region.”
Western economic interference in Algerian affairs has, however, enriched Western investors at the expense of the Algerian people, contributing significantly to the socio-economic devastation of the country in tandem with the escalating violence. In 1997, Algerian specialist Dr. Abdel Hameed Al Ibrahimi summarised the primary components of this downwards spiral as follows:
· The per capita income decreased from $2,500 in 1990 to $1,200 in 1995 (a reduction of 52 per cent in six years).
· The agricultural production decreased by 25 per cent although the population increased by more than 4 million in the last six years. This led to the increase of food imports which now form 90 per cent of the total national food consumption amounting up to $3 billion a year.
· The country’s industries are operating (except for petroleum and gas) at only 20 per cent of their actual capacity which means that 80 per cent of the Algerian industries, except for the petroleum industries, are now out of work.
· Investment has been reduced to a level lower than it was before Independence. Food and industrial consumable imports form 49 per cent of total imports. The military expenditure increased by 45 per cent in 1994 and by 144 per cent in 1995. All of that was at the expense of the investment in production sectors.
· The unemployment rate rose to more than 30 per cent in 1996. 83 per cent of the now 2.5 million unemployed Algerians are youth between 16 and 29 years of age. The number of unemployed citizens is expected to increase to 3 million after completing privatization of public establishments during this year because more than 400,000 workers will lose their jobs to privatization.
· For the first time since Independence, the general level of prices increased by 40 per cent in 1994 while the prices of the foodstuffs increased by 80 per cent which increased poverty among people and consumers.
· The foreign debts increased from $26 billion in 1992 to $35 billion in 1997 reaching a total of $40 billion if we add the military debts. The foreign debt is a heavy and serious burden on Algeria which, if the present political situation continues, will lead to the deterioration of the economic crisis in the future.
“In brief,” concludes Al Ibrahimi, “the Algerian people are now suffering from suppression and poverty. They are languishing in a valley of blood and tears.” The Western intelligence agencies, particularly those of France and the United States, “who control the military institution in Algeria are responsible for this corrupt situation and for this destructive policy since 1992.”
Clearly, it was necessary to ensure that the Islamic opposition failed to come to power – despite its massive popularity – to bypass the danger of such a resource-rich strategic region taking an independent course from that required by Western interests and thereby furnishing an example that other Muslim nations would be inspired to follow. Accordingly, it was also necessary to trigger a war on the Algerian people to prevent them from generating any further viable political opposition to the Western-backed junta. As Cooley reports, the government-backed death squads operating under the guise of the “GIA”, “in particular increased assaults on unveiled women, teachers and their institutions of learning, journalists, writers, entertainers including actors and musicians – a tactic which, far more even than in Egypt, deprived society of its means of expression, cutting off its cultural oxygen, as it were. Some 600 schools and universities were burned down.” The result has been a considerable dis-empowerment of the Algerian masses. The Western powers have thus confirmed the irrelevance of human rights in the formulation of policy, as opposed to the pre-eminence of what effectively amounts to ruthless economic imperialism. It is therefore clear that unless the West changes its current stance and imposes considerable pressure on its Algerian clients to transform their violent policies, the crisis in Algeria is unlikely to end shortly.
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is a scholar, investigative journalist and environment writer for The Guardian who has written and published extensively on the Middle East.
Notes: Amirouche, Hamou, ‘Algeria’s Islamist Revolution: The People Versus Democracy?’, Middle East Policy, January 1998, Vol. V, No. 4.  Addi, Lahouari, ‘Algeria’s Tragic Contradictions’, Journal of Democracy, 7.3, 1996, 94-107.  Entelis, John P., Democracy Denied: America’s Authoritarian Approach Towards the Maghreb – Causes & Consequences, XVIIIth World Congress of the International Political Science Association, Quebec, 1-5 August 2000.  AI news release, ‘Algeria: Children Caught in the Conflict’, Amnesty International, London, 27 October 1997.  BBC, 15 December 1999.  AI news release, ‘Algeria: Civilian Population Caught in a Spiral of Violence’, Amnesty International, London, November 1997.  Sane, Pierre, Secretary General of Amnesty International, ‘Algerians: Failed by their Government and by the International Community’, Amnesty International, New York, 18 November 1997.  AI, Amnesty International Report 1998, Amnesty International, London, 1998; Bouzid, Ahmed, ‘The Algerian Crisis: No End in Sight’, Z Magazine, January 1999.  Bouzid, Ahmed, ‘The Algerian tragedy continues’, Algeria Watch International, ZNet, 1 October 2000, http://www.zmag.org/.  AI press release, ‘Algeria: Amnesty International Condemns Massacres of Civilians’, Amnesty International, London, 21 December 2000  Henley, Jon, ‘I saw Algerian soldiers massacre civilians’, Guardian, 14 February 2001.  Bouzid, Ahmed, ‘The Algerian Crisis: No End in Sight’, op. cit.; Bouzid cites evidence demonstrating how the Algerian authorities use the excuse of hunting down terrorists to arrest and despose of whoever they wish (i.e. opponents of the regime) by fabricating evidence and employing torture to force confessions; Hizb ut-Tahrir, ‘The massacres in Algeria are designed to slaughter Islam as an ideology and a system’, Al-Khilafah Magazine, Al-Khilafah Publications, London, 4 September 1997.  Addi, Lahouari, ‘Algeria’s Tragic Contradictions’, Journal of Democracy, 7.3, 1996, 94-107.  AI, Amnesty International Report 1998, Amnesty International, London, 1998.  cited in Bouzid, Ahmed, ‘The Algerian Crisis: No End in Sight’, Z Magazine, January 1999.  Bouzid, Ahmed, ‘The Algerian Crisis: No End in Sight’, op. cit.  Bouzid, Ahmed, ‘The Algerian tragedy continues’, op. cit.  Cited in Bouzid, Ahmed, ‘The Algerian Crisis: No End in Sight’, op. cit. See this paper for some further discussion of the Algerian crisis, the complicity of the Algerian government in the massacres, and the complacency of the international community with regard to the humanitarian catastrophe; also see ‘Internationalization moves mask support for Algerian junta’, Crescent International, 16-31 October 1997. Crescent is an international Muslim newsmagazine based in London.  Lombardi, Ben, ‘Turkey: The Return of the Reluctant Generals’, Political Science Quarterly, Summer 1997, Vol. 112, No. 2.  Amirouche, Hamou, ‘Algeria’s Islamist Revolution: The People Versus Democracy?’, Middle East Policy, January 1998, Vol. V, No. 4.  Paris Match, 9 October 1997.  Independent, 30 October 1997.  IHRC bulletin on Algeria, Islamic Human Rights Commission, Wembley, 10 November 1997, http://www.ihrc.org/. For some further analysis see Shah-Kazemi, Reza (ed.), Algeria: Revolution revisited, Islamic World Report, London, 1997.  AFP, 8 November 1997.  Sweeney, John and Dolye, Leonard, ‘Algerian Regime Responsible for Massacres: Algerian regime was behind Paris bombs’, Manchester Guardian Weekly, 16 November 1997; Sweeney and Doyle, Observer, 9 November 1997.  cited in ibid.; also see Impact International, Vol. 28, No. 2 February 1998.  Manchester Guardian Weekly, 16 November 1997; Observer, 9 November 1997.  Independent, 30 October 1997.  Chinade, M., ‘Not so secret terrorist junta’, Impact International, February 1998, Vol. 28, No. 2.  Television Swiss Romande (TSR), Switzerland, January 1998.  Sweeney, John, ‘Seven monks were beheaded. Now the whistleblower has paid with his life’, Observer, 14 June 1998.  Sunday Times, 16 July 2000  Sweeney, John, ‘Algeria: policemen confess they killed for the state’, Observer News Service, The Observer, 12 January 1998. Also see ‘Algerian junta caught in web of contradictions’, Crescent International, 16-30 September 1997; ‘Internationization moves mask support for Algerian junta’, Crescent International, 16-31 October 1997; ‘Algerian junta linked to gruesome massacres, Paris bombings and killing of foreigners’, Crescent International, 1-15 December 1997; ‘Algerian junta’s murder campaign continues’, Crescent International, 16-31 January 1998. Finally see the exhaustive study: Bedjaoui, Youcef, et. al. (ed.), An Inquiry Into the Algerian Massacres, Hoggar Books, London, 1999.  Palestine Times, No. 72, June 1997  ibid.  Simon, Daniel Ben, ‘Arabs Slaughter Arabs in Algeria’, Ha’aretz, 20 April 2001. Also see Hadjarab, Mustapha, ‘Former Officer Testifies To Army Atrocities’, Algeria Interface, 9 February 2001. While Souadia acknowledges the army’s role in the massacres, he nevertheless continues to adhere to the opinion that many massacres have also been carried out by Islamic guerrillas. This opinion, however, conflicts with the documentation supplied above which illustrates that the supposedly ‘Islamic’ guerrillas, such as the GIA for instance, are infiltrated and controlled by the Algerian military. The testimony of other defectors from the regime shows that the GIA is ultimately a creation of the very same Algerian regime’s intelligence and military. Indeed, Souadia’s own testimony supports this, showing that it was routine army policy to stage massacres of civilians to falsely incriminate Islamic opposition. Souadia, for instance, admits accompanying commandos from the army’s ‘anti-terrorist’ squad to Lakhdaria, an alleged rebel stronghold 50 miles from Algiers. The squad disguised themselves as bearded fundamentalists. “All the suspects of course ended up being killed. We arrested people, we tortured them, we killed them and then we burned their bodies.” In that region alone, “I must have seen at least 100 people liquidated”. (Guardian, 14 February 2001). The evidence therefore supports the conclusion that the massacres as such are largely planned and carried out by the Algerian intelligence and military. See Souadia, Habib, The Dirty War: The testimony of a former officer of the special forces of the Algerian army, 1992-2000, La Decouverte, Paris, 2001.  Le Monde, 8 February 2001.  Cited in Guardian, 14 February 2001.  Fisk, Robert, ‘France supplies covert military aid to regime’, The Irish Times (City edition), 28 December 1994.  Ibid.  Colvie, Marie, ‘Britain plans Algerian arms deal despite ethical policy’, Sunday Times, 16 July 2000  Entelis, John, Democracy Denied: America’s Authoritarian Approach Towards the Maghreb – Causes and Consequences, op. cit.  Cooley, John K., Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism, Pluto Press, London, 1999, p. 209.  Hanlon, Joseph, ‘Dictators and debt’, Jubilee 2000 Coalition, November 1998.  ‘Nothing to lose but our illusions’, The Sun Magazine, June 2000.  El Watan, 8 January 1992.  See ‘Algeria’, United States Energy Information Adminstration, February 1999, web-site at http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/algeria.html.  cited in Madani, Blanca, ‘Hugh Roberts on Algeria: summary of Interview by Middle East Report’, Articles and Reports, World Algerian Action Coalition, Spring 1998, http://www.waac.org/.  cited in ‘The French and Algerian policies on Algeria: Vive la difference’, Mideast Mirror, 11 October 1994, Algeria Section, Vol. 8, No. 96.  Cited in The Sun Magazine, June 2000.  ‘Algerian junta’s murder campaign continues’, Crescent International, 16-31 January 1998, http://www.muslimedia.com/. Even the Wall Street Journal had to acknowledge that “some of the FIS ideas, such as support for a more open economy, could benefit the country if actually implemented by an Islamic government.” (Editorial, ‘Going Wrong in Algiers,’ Wall Street Journal, January 14, 1992).  Cooley, John K., Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism, op. cit. p. 205-6.  Department of State, Office of the Spokesman Press Statement (James P. Rubin), ‘US-North Africa Economic Partnership’, 19 April 2000.  Palestine Times, No. 72, June 1997  Cooley, John K., Unholy Wars, op. cit., p. 207.
Algeria’s 1992 coup: A necessary evil
1. Karima Bennoune (Professor of Law at the University of California, Davis School of Law, former Amnesty International legal advisor. Both of these articles were originally published on Open Democracy.):
* Algeria: The real lessons for Egypt, , July 16, 2013
* Algeria twenty years on: words do not die, June 2013
2. Louisa Ait-Hamou (scholar and womens rights activist, director of Réseau Wassila and AVIFE)
* Women’s struggle against Muslim fundamentalism in Algeria: Strategies or a lesson for survival?, Dec 2004