Violence and the Algerian military

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

Since the military coup of 1992, Algeria has been involved in a conflict which has claimed the lives of at least 100 000 people. The conflict has generally been portrayed as one which has pitted Islamists against the secular Algerian government. However, a study of Algerian history illustrates a sustained and dominant role of the Algerian military. The dominance of the military was firmly entrenched in the 1965 coup led by Boumedienne. His successor Benjedid, an active- duty colonel, selected by a core military elite upon Boumedienne's sudden illness, continued the military dominance, although during both reigns a civilian facade was maintained. The coup of 1992 was organised by a select group of generals who continue to wield power in Algeria today. The behaviour of the military in Algeria, subsequent to the coup, was marked by assassinations, disappearances, torture and violent repression of those who opposed the military controlled state. This behaviour reflects the behaviour of the military during the war of liberation, and during independence. Of equal importance is that the present military elite has used covert organisations whose modus operandi mirrors French military conduct during the war of liberation. This includes the use of torture to instil fear among the Algerian population. Consequently, to understand the violence which has engulfed Algeria since 1992 is to understand the dominance of the military and military elite. These men continue to wield power through the only means they have been confronted with and encountered, force.

Bibliography: leaves 78-86.