The violence that has ravaged Algeria has often defied explanation. Regularly invoked in debates about political Islam, transitions to democracy, globalization, and the right of humanitarian interference, Algeria's tragedy has been reduced to a clash of stereotypes: Islamists vs. a secular state, terrorists vs. innocent civilians, or generals vs. a defenseless society. The prevalence of such simplistic representations has disabled public opinion inside as well as outside the country and contributed to the intractability of the conflict. This collection of essays offers a radical corrective to Western misconceptions. Rejecting essentialist and determinist approaches, Hugh Roberts explores the outlook and evolution of the various internal forces as they emerged--the Islamists, the Berberists, the factions within the army, and the regime in general--and he looks at external interests and actors. He explains their strategies and the manoeuvres in which they have engaged. The resulting analyses illuminate the startling dynamics of the conflict and the real issues at stake, and identify the implications of each development in the action.
Informed by a deep knowledge of Algeria and Algerian history, these accessible essays guide the reader through the extraordinary politics of the drama in all its complexity.
Hugh Roberts is the Director of the Algeria Project and Senior Analyst for Egypt and North Africa with the International Crisis Group. He is a Visiting Fellow of the London School of Economics and Political Science, Visiting Research Scholar at the America University in Cairo, Vice-President of the Society for Algerian Studies and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of North African Studies. He lives in London and Cairo.