Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 01/2012

Algeria at the Crossroads, Between Continuity and Change

Andrea Dessì

September 2011

Istituto Affari Internazionali


Algeria is the only country in North Africa which seems to be relatively immune to the so-called “Arab spring”. Popular protests did erupt in Algeria at precisely the same time as they were enveloping neighbouring countries, but the demands of the protesters never reached a popular consensus calling for the demise of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Drawing on the country’s extensive monetary reserves, the Algerian authorities have responded by implementing a series of economic and social reforms, which have further weakened the resolve and unity of the protesters. After repealing the emergency laws in late February 2011, the government appeared to have regained the upper hand, but strikes and demonstrations have continued. Algeria still faces the real prospect of future popular unrest if the government fails in its promise to enact wide ranging political and economic reforms by early 2012. Given the country’s geostrategic importance at both regional and international levels, the international community and in particular the EU must do more in order to ensure that Algeria is set on a sustainable path for the future.