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 the usual tautological approaches of inherent, predetermined conflict, 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 maneuvers 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 not only for Algeria but also for this crucial region.
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.