Civil War in Algeria (1991-2002) and its Aftermath: Analyzing the Emergence & Evolution of Non-State Armed Groups
Peckarsky, Micah G.
- Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. The Algerian civil war (1991-2002) and its aftermath represent a rich case study to analyze the formation and evolution of non-state armed groups. While the Front de LibÃ©ration Nationale (FLN, National Liberation Front) built its legitimacy through a war of liberation ... read moreto end French colonial rule, the regime's authority began to wane in the late 1980s and was ultimately threatened by the Front Islamique du Salut (FIS, Islamic Salvation Front) through elections in December 1991. In order to protect its authority, the Algerian military intervened in January 1992 to cancel the electoral process and suppress the FIS, radicalizing the political opposition and touching off a bloody civil war that raged for more than a decade and featured a variety of armed Islamist groups challenging the FLN-military regime. Through a strategy of intense manipulation and infiltration of the militant organizations, as well as an amnesty program, the Algerian government remained in power and has bolstered its position since 2002. However, despite the Algerian administration's resurgence, the last remaining armed group in the civil conflict - the Groupe Salafiste pour la PrÃ©dication et le Combat (GSPC, Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat) - evolved into Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in the mid-2000s. AQIM does not pose an existential threat to the Algerian government or military, but constitutes a security risk inside Algeria and throughout the Sahara-Sahel region, particularly in northern Mali, based on the group's transnational operations, shift to a decentralized organizational structure, exploitation of ungoverned areas, foreign relationships, strengthening due to instability in Libya and Mali, and criminal activities. This assessment traces the development of Algeria's security environment from the late 1980s to the present, analyzing the government's declining legitimacy in the late 1980s that led to the outbreak of the civil war, the regime's effective policies that enabled it to maintain power and subdue its armed challengers, and the organizational innovations pursued by AQIM allowing it to endure.read less