Part 2

    a) Article by a noted Algerian political scientist Lahouari Addi who
    was recently visiting professor at Princeton University.
    b) A partial chronology of events in Algeria prepared by Paris-based
    Algerian journalist Mustapha Hadj-Arab
    c) A list of the major massacres ( from the Associated Press)
    that occured in Algeria in the past 2 years
    Item 2-a
    Copyright © 1996 National Endowment for Democracy and the Johns
    Hopkins University Press. All rights reserved. This work may be used,
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    Journal of Democracy 7.3 (1996) 94-107
    Algeria's Tragic Contradictions
    Lahouari Addi
    Democratization in the Middle East
    Democratization is the order of the day in the Third World, but aside
    certain Latin American countries where it seems to have succeeded, it is
    everywhere running into difficulties. These challenges need to be
    in relation to the history of each country, taking into account specific
    political, cultural, and ideological circumstances. There is assuredly
    universal model of democratic transition that one can recommend to all
    World countries, which is why we must evaluate obstacles to
    on a case-by-case basis.
    Algeria is an interesting case precisely because in February 1989, just
    months after the October 1988 riots that cost nearly a thousand lives,
    ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) embarked on a series of reforms,
    changing the Constitution to allow multipartism and alternation in power
    means of elections. Yet the legalization of multipartism mainly
    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
    and nullified the first-round results in January 1992. Next, it forced
    President Chadli Benjedid to resign. Since then, Algeria has plunged
    murderous strife that already has claimed more than 60,000 lives. 1
    In January 1995, six groups (including the three major contenders--the
    the FIS, and the Socialist Forces Front or FFS) met in Rome to sign a
    aimed at ending the crisis. 2 The military rejected [End Page 94] this
    Platform and ordered a presidential election for November 1995. This
    which capped the first contested presidential election since Algeria
    its independence from France in 1962, went ahead as scheduled on
    16. Even though the principal opposition parties (most notably the FIS
    the FFS) refused to participate, the balloting raised high expectations
    among voters, who hoped that incumbent president Liamine Zeroual (a
    general and the army's designated candidate) would emerge with
    legitimacy and be able to make the military accept a political solution
    similar to the one outlined in the Rome Platform.
    On election day, three-quarters of the country's 16 million eligible
    turned out, and Zeroual won a 61 percent majority. Although widely
    hailed as
    a success, this election actually has solved nothing. Zeroual has not
    able to assert control over the army, the national dialogue that he
    has broken down, and deadly violence continues to rage. In May 1996, the
    president promised legislative elections for early 1997, but the
    parties dismissed his announcement as a maneuver to buy time.
    In this essay, I will first explain the inner logic of Algeria's
    system by examining its structure and the crisis in which it is
    embroiled, and then look at the dynamics of the various oppositions it
    set in motion: 1) the internal opposition within the regime, 2) the
    opposition, and 3) the democratic opposition.
    The Logic of the Regime
    To comprehend what is happening today in Algeria, one must consider the
    historical and ideological foundations of the power of the state as it
    emerged from the war of national liberation, which made the army the
    country's legitimacy-granting authority. The contradiction that has led
    regime toward the current violence is its inability to endow itself with
    legitimate leadership--an inability that has propelled the Islamists
    the resulting gap, which has existed ever since the death of President
    Houari Boumedienne in 1978.
    The legitimacy upon which any system of power rests is a principle that
    forged in the history of each country. In Algeria, it is inseparable
    the struggle that the national liberation movement waged against French
    colonial domination in the 1950s and early 1960s. The army holds the key
    political legitimacy by virtue of the very fact that national
    was wrested from France by the Army of National Liberation, whose heir
    the National Popular Army. This situation brought about a splitting of
    state's power that would have deleterious consequences for the state's
    provision of services and the efficiency of its decision making. From
    time on, there has been, on the one hand, the power of legitimation
    by the army, and on the other, [End Page 95] the executive power that
    army mandates to run the administration and handle the rents from energy
    exports. The government's everyday doings are hampered by the
    practices of networks that enjoy the support of high-ranking army
    A prefect, even a minister of state, has real authority in the discharge
    his official responsibilities only insofar as he maintains a privileged
    individual relationship with a member of the military hierarchy.
    Relationships within the state, as well as those between state personnel
    individuals in society, are particularistic rather than universalistic,
    whether they are based on family or tribal bonds or on common material
    interests. The state, then, exists in two dimensions: in one, it is
    official, obedient to rules; in the other, it is obscure, hidden from
    view, guided by a changing balance of forces that only initiates can
    Reinforcing this two-dimensional structure is the lack of
    institutionalization that characterizes the army's legitimating power.
    the gap between the institutions that formalize the relationships of
    authority and subordination within the state administration and the
    of informal networks to influence the decisions of various parts of this
    administration. Individual military men are among the first to deplore
    inefficiency and ineptitude of state officials, but few soldiers make
    connection between such incompetence and the double structure of state
    power. Every high-ranking officer considers it as normal as breathing
    the military hierarchy should have the final say in forming the
    and the right to approve all the key civilian officials who would be
    part of
    it. 3 In these officers' eyes, the army has the right and duty to act as
    source of legitimacy for the governing authorities, since the state's
    constitution originated with the army. In view of the traditions
    from the anticolonial struggle, the army would be loath to install an
    military regime. The Algerian system, despite the key place that the
    occupies within it, is not a military regime, and still less a military
    dictatorship. It is an authoritarian civilian regime in which the state
    draws its legitimacy and strength from the army, which in turn entrusts
    with the mission of preventing the emergence of a civil society
    of state power--the idea being to avoid having to institutionalize
    in the public sphere.
    The authoritarianism of the Algerian state flows not from its military
    origins, but from the populist ideology that the army champions. It is
    as if
    the army has been asking the administration since 1962 to create a new
    society whose members are socially and economically equal. This equality
    to be guaranteed by the state; all will depend on the state for
    This is the vantage point from which the historical legitimacy embodied
    the army must be understood, for it is not an ideological justification
    a military aristocracy. Rather, it is the political reserve or resource
    authorizes the army to intervene, directly or indirectly, in political
    affairs in order to guide the government's [End Page 96] actions, in
    with the mission that the former has entrusted to the latter. It was in
    name of historical legitimacy that then­Defense Minister Houari
    in June 1965 deposed Ahmed Ben Bella, who had been elected president
    just a
    scant two years before. 4
    Yet Boumedienne, fearing that he in turn would be overthrown by his
    successor at the Defense Ministry, resolved the contradiction of the
    structure of state power by institutionalizing historical legitimacy
    the fiction of the Council of the Revolution that he headed, and above
    by fusing the two powers in his own person. Upon his death, however, the
    military men had no wish to renew this arrangement, which they thought
    worked to their disadvantage. They then named to the presidency Chadli
    Benjedid, a military-district commander who lacked Boumedienne's
    personality. Benjedid was not able to impose his will on his peers or to
    embody legitimating authority while exercising executive power; the
    entered a period of crisis that culminated in a paralysis that the
    would use to their advantage. In order to perpetuate itself, the regime
    needs the charismatic authority of a chief, a leader who can ground his
    legitimacy in populist discourse. The intrinsic personal qualities of
    such a
    chief are vital for the reproduction of the system: he must be a tribune
    must have a passion for his job, which will involve many hours of hard
    every day. When it came to such qualities, Boumedienne far outshone his
    successor. It is true that Benjedid had to govern during a difficult
    For one thing, the model that his predecessor had put in place had
    its limits; moreover, the bottom fell out of world oil prices in
    The government began reforms to make the productive apparatus
    but the army rejected them as too liberal, choosing to bank instead on a
    future upturn in the oil market.
    At bottom, a political regime can rest on the charisma of a leader, on
    institutions that regulate the distribution of power, or on both. In the
    1980s, however, the regime had neither a leader with whom the citizens
    identify, nor institutions capable of truly regulating power relations.
    absence of leadership, then, left a void that helped give rise to the
    crisis that has engulfed Algeria. There were, to be sure, institutional
    reforms designed to cover up the contradiction between the two powers.
    Council of the Revolution was suppressed and replaced by an elected
    that was made the formal depositary of national sovereignty. In reality,
    legitimacy continued to be embodied by the army, acting through the
    expedient of the presidential office, whose holder is chosen by
    suffrage--at the end of an election [End Page 97] campaign featuring a
    single party running a single candidate. Constitutionally, therefore,
    president derives his authority from the electorate, which allows him to
    form the government and put it to work on the political and social goals
    that he has promised to pursue. Yet this picture is false, since the
    president is chosen by the military hierarchy, whose candidate the
    merely ratify; hence the president's dependence on this hierarchy. He
    play one faction against another and can choose his own collaborators,
    his room to maneuver remains limited, for he cannot deprive the army of
    legitimating power. Hence also the peculiar relations between the
    and the Ministry of Defense, with personnel and policy flowing from the
    latter to the former.
    In this scheme, the choice of the president is important for the
    of the regime, for overly strong tensions must not be allowed to arise
    between the presidency and the military hierarchy. Moreover, stability
    demands not only that the president be a military man, but that he be
    committed to respecting the army's preeminence in making important
    decisions for the regime as a whole. Hence the difficulties that
    the naming of a defense minister, who may threaten to eclipse the
    Under President Boumedienne, the post went unfilled, and it was only in
    that President Benjedid named Khaled Nezzar to assume the position. The
    latter's successor, Liamine Zeroual, became chief of state and has been
    careful not to name anyone to his former position. The question now is
    whether the election of 16 November 1995 will mark a rupture with this
    arrangement or will reproduce it. Will the elections resolve the
    contradiction between the two powers, and give to the regime the
    legitimacy that it has been lacking? Time will tell whether President
    Zeroual will act in the name of the electorate from which his formal
    comes, and whether he, like President Boumedienne, will succeed in
    the two powers in his own person.
    The Turn Toward Competition
    Democratization, begun by the Constitution ratified in February 1989,
    run up against the double structure of state power that the military men
    have been trying to preserve. They agreed to open up the political
    system by
    introducing multipartism, electoral competition, and freedom of the
    press in
    order to limit corruption and give the regime more efficacy and
    Multipartism, they calculated, would be bound to reinvigorate the FLN by
    subjecting it to competition. Thus the goal of democratization has been
    kind of institutional reorganization during which the executive power is
    supposed to face electoral testing, but without any question being
    about the regime's great unwritten law: The army is the source of power.
    military men had no fear of [End Page 98] elections, since they expected
    that the FLN would end up forming an understanding with the FIS in the
    National Assembly, the upshot being a coalition government that would
    respect the legitimating power of the army. The victory of any single
    aside from the FLN would raise doubts about the political preeminence of
    army, since if such a party enjoyed a majority in the Assembly it could
    a government without the army's go-ahead and, above all, could threaten
    select a defense minister from its own ranks, which would put an end to
    double structure of state power along with the army's political
    It would, in short, mean the beginning of a new regime.
    For unique historical reasons, the Algerian regime is built around the
    splitting--and the confusion--of the legitimating power and the
    power, and is organized into an administrative state in which, unlike
    situation that obtains in a state under law, sovereignty is neither
    affirmed nor institutionally localized. The legitimating power is hidden
    institutions that do not correspond to political reality; it takes cover
    behind them in order to keep the nation from becoming aware that it
    possesses sovereignty. This power fears public exposure not out of
    or Machiavellianism, but because the political sphere, which is not
    independent of the religious and social spheres, is not differentiated
    them. The military hierarchy, the purveyor of legitimacy, is not even
    that it is substituting itself for the electorate, retaining sovereignty
    place of that electorate, which in turn does not question whether the
    military is making good use of that sovereignty. In its rare ideological
    statements, the army invokes the national sovereignty that it embodies
    has the mission of defending against foreign foes. The military
    itself with the nation and not with the electorate--which does not exist
    the military's eyes because political conflicts among Algerians are
    not to exist. Rather, there are political conflicts between Algerians
    foreigners, or between Algerian patriots and Algerian traitors. But this
    type of conflict must not be institutionalized, for traitors are to be
    physically exterminated. Hence the bloody nature of the current crisis.
    adversaries see each other, respectively, as traitors to the nation or
    traitors to Islam (which, for the Islamists, defines the nation).
    side can acknowledge such modern categories as "the electorate" or
    sovereignty," because these categories presuppose the political liberty
    the individual and, above all, the idea of a minority that can legally
    oppose a majority.
    The body politic does not think of itself as sovereign and accepts, to a
    certain extent, that the army holds the power of legitimation; hence
    can be no rule of law, for popular sovereignty is the source of modern
    This explains the willingness and indeed the zeal with which officials
    violate the juridical rules that they have made and that, in theory,
    the force of law for everyone. Sundry contending factions and
    groups flaunt their ability to violate the law [End Page 99] with
    it is a way of showing their strength. In sum, whether the law made by
    administrative state applies or does not apply at any given moment
    on the balance of forces among various factions at that time. As for
    among the ruled who belongs to no faction and is delivered up to the
    arbi-trariness of the Hobbesian state of nature, he must pay in order to
    benefit from laws that accord him certain rights, and must also pay to
    laws that would impose upon him some burden or duty. This is why in
    officials have exorbitant power; they can make the law pay by applying
    it or
    not applying it, whichever is to their own advantage.
    To defeat the factions and neutralize the pressure groups that
    the bureaucracy and the economy would require an independent judicial
    establishment that could enforce the law against people who abuse the
    trust for private gain. Yet the notion of the autonomy of justice flows
    the institutional distinction between the sovereign power and the
    power. As soon as the sovereign power fails to assert itself as such,
    judicial power becomes limited to carrying out the orders of the
    power, which is precisely what permits those who hold this latter type
    power to abuse it. The autonomy of the judge is conceivable and feasible
    only if the sovereign power--and the awareness that the various actors
    of it--is institutionally affirmed. If the sovereign power remains
    indefinitely in the hands of one group, if it is not the expression of
    will of the majority of voters, justice will remain subordinated to the
    executive power, which will demand that it look solely to the
    interests. And the interests of Algeria's executive power today lie in
    gaining loyalists and securing allegiance at any cost so as to hide its
    chronic deficit of legitimacy from the rising generations who are not
    enough to remember the war of national liberation.
    Here, precisely, resides one of the Algerian regime's major
    and the very source, moreover, of the dynamic that has given rise to
    violence. The administrative state is being ambushed by officials who
    their power, and by the corruption to which they are drawn. This
    arbitrariness and corruption are not so much results of individual greed
    wickedness as the unavoidable byproducts of a political regime whose
    functionaries wield powers that are very broad and frequently open to
    Corruption is the general rule, involving not just individuals but whole
    networks that reach up to the very highest levels of the state and are
    to dismantle. As long as an official does not [End Page 100] question
    basic rule of the regime--that is, the political preeminence of the
    will not be disturbed even if he neglects his job, misuses public funds,
    lives far beyond his means. If he is relatively discreet and does
    nothing to
    arouse the enmity of competing networks that are more powerful than his
    this official will have nothing to fear from the law and may even climb
    through the career ranks. Over the years, corruption became pervasive as
    means of access to wealth; the struggle to acquire strategic government
    posts became a key part of the process of accumulating a private
    fortune. In
    the absence of the independent administration of justice, the
    has divided society up into predatory fiefdoms, with the citizenry as an
    inexhaustible resource. These fiefdoms form a strife-ridden system that
    draws its homogeneity and coherence from the regime's constitutive
    principle. The Algerian regime, in its operation no less than in its
    structure, does not have the means to protect itself against the
    that is eating away at its administrative capacity.
    The various clientelistic and kinship networks often come to an
    over economic spoils. When they do clash, their battles can extend to
    highest levels of the state. Compulsory retirement, a posting abroad, a
    transfer to a less important department--all these can temporarily put
    end to such conflicts, with the settlement sealed by such personnel
    reshufflings. Officials are rarely prosecuted for incompetent
    misuse of funds, or corruption; when they are brought to book, it is
    invariably for political reasons. Formally, the charges are
    mismanagement or
    corruption, but the real motive is political score-settling. It may seem
    though the factions and interest groups give the regime its logic and
    dynamic. In truth, however, those factions are but an effect of the
    political regime; they appear and form thanks to the regime. Groups and
    factions that thwart the regime's logic are eliminated; those that enjoy
    regime's favor perpetuate themselves by reinforcing its logic,
    riches and allies in the process. 5
    The contradiction of democratization in Algeria is that the leaders have
    sought to introduce, alongside the historical legitimacy embodied by the
    army, a principle of electoral legitimacy intended to sanction the
    government alone. Their aim was to make the two legitimacies converge,
    rendering the regime more popular while decreasing corruption and
    the efficiency of its administration of the country's affairs. The
    is that any given system can have only one principle of legitimacy, and
    obey only one source of power. Seeking to solve the problem of
    the military exposed the regime to a contradiction that would have
    fatal. Instead of shoring up the system, the constitutional reforms of
    February 1989 precipitated its decay and confronted it with the violent
    crisis from which it is still trying to extricate itself. As currently
    constituted, the regime is incompatible with freedom of expression, free
    electoral competition, and the independence [End Page 101] of the
    Meanwhile, the reforming regime has unleashed a play of opposing forces
    will be difficult to stop unless radical changes are made.
    Three Oppositions
    Opposition to the regime appeared as a reaction to disillusionment with
    postindependence state, an entity in which Algerians had placed a heavy
    emotional investment after many years of hardship and sacrifice under
    colonial rule. Corresponding less and less as the years went by to the
    utopian hopes that had attended its birth, this regime was rejected
    a majority of Algerians found that they could no longer identify with
    Some, who belong to the regime even while calling themselves
    think that they can reform it from within by changing its leadership.
    are others, the Islamists, who want to refound the regime on the basis
    of a
    religiously based ideology that they believe will keep the regime true
    its mission. Finally, there are the democrats, who want the regime to
    the institutionalized rules of free government. These are Algeria's
    currents of opposition: the internal opposition, led by figures who
    with the policy that has been adopted in the face of the present crisis;
    Islamists, who give voice to the aspirations of the common people and as
    such enjoy the largest number of supporters; and the democrats, who are
    vigorous enough but on the wrong side of current political
    The internal opposition. Represented by figures who have been more or
    discredited by their past participation in the running of the country,
    internal opposition is the least credible and the least important in
    of its impact on the people at large. It is the expression of conflicts
    interest among the regime's personnel and of power struggles among
    factions and clienteles. The feuds among clienteles and factions become
    public through the forming of parties that exist exclusively on the
    basis of
    communiqués that are obligingly published by the press. The different
    interest groups, even while being very critical, seek either to
    the regime by keeping its essence intact, to strengthen their own
    by denigrating competing groups, or to improve the efficiency of
    administration in order to raise the people's estimation of the regime
    promising to limit corruption as much as possible and reorganize the
    economy. Obviously, these groups, whatever their degree of activism and
    their criticisms of past policies, are not really in the opposition. The
    true opposition is one that seeks not merely to replace one set of
    with another, but to change the institutional forms according to which
    state is structured and its power is exercised. Consequently, "the
    opposition" can mean only those persons or groups who publicly declare
    they oppose the constitutive principle of the regime--the army's
    exercise of
    sovereign [End Page 102] authority--and oppose it no matter what
    institutional artifices are used to conceal it. If we start with this
    definition, we are left with two main currents of opposition: the
    and the democrats.
    The Islamists. As expressed by the FIS, the political ideology of the
    Islamists corresponds to the political culture and ideas of the average
    Algerian, who blames the regime for its inability to fight corruption.
    perceives this inability without understanding that it inheres in and
    to constitute the regime itself. As he sees it, the government is
    of improving the conditions of everyday life (jobs, housing,
    and so on) and is dominated by people who seek only to enrich themselves
    their relatives. He does not understand why the army upholds the
    and concludes that some senior officers must have been bribed. Without
    realizing that the army retains the legitimating power, he wants to put
    institutions on a new footing by entrusting sovereignty to God. Without
    putting it clearly in so many words, he is questioning the institutional
    bases of the postindependence state. At any rate, he tells himself,
    sovereignty belongs to God, and to Him it must return. If those in power
    fear God and obey Holy Writ, they will not become corrupt. This
    reasoning is
    shared by a majority of Algerians, who wish for neither fascism nor
    theocracy, but appeal to God in order to limit the arrogance and
    arbitrariness of the current government. From this point of view, the
    Islamists are a populist authoritarian movement and not a totalitarian
    In any case, this desire for divine sovereignty, which is said to be
    inextricably to the cultural essence of Muslim peoples, would not be
    expressed with so much force if human sovereignty--whether popular or
    oligarchic--had been institutionally established from the beginning. The
    popular appeal of divine sovereignty, like the votes that millions of
    Algerians cast for the Islamists, signified a desire to name the
    power, to draw it out of the state of anonymity in which the army keeps
    and to abolish the "doubleness" of a power that formally resides in the
    institutions of the state but actually is retained by the military and
    exercised through hidden methods. The divine conception of sovereignty
    as many supporters as it did only because the sovereignty of the army
    created a zone of obscurity and the voters wanted to put a face on a
    of decision making that conceals itself and those who operate through