March 14, 2013 War and Society inAfrica Lecture
Algeria (Most of Todays Lecture)
Algeria is technically considered to be part of France for over a century. Furthermore there is a
large population that is of European origin and has been there for multiple generation.
There are about 9 million arabs, 1.5 million of the multi generation European settlers giving a
minority and they call themselves the Pieds-Noir.
• The Pieds-Noir considered themselves to be Frenchmen and by their way of thinking they were
living in France (south of the Mediterranean).
• They are not interested in any form of self government, the system in place is the system they
• However, they do not have the means by themselves to keep this system operating they must
rely upon the resources of the French government to keep going.
• The control ofAlgeria must be kept in control of French political and military will.
What about theArab population?
• There are those who are used to the systems
• But there is a part of the population that are becoming aware of their own identities asArabs,
as algerians, as muslims to be different from French Christians.
• This is apparent after WWII
• Apart of the problem is that they feel that the French inAlgeria have to much power but they
even do not like theArab representatives of whom work with the French because they are hand
picked to work with the French. The representatives agree with everything for the French.
• The ideas and self-consciousness is one level but they needed a trigger to make people realize
their situation no longer works and they need to be in control.
• Trigger: Setif May 8, 1945 the day that the Germans Surrender the WWII European victory
• TheAlgerian admins had been causing problems in the Setif town and between theArabs and
Pieds Noir. Over 100 Pieds Noir are killed
• The governments reaction to this is remarkably different, they kill 15-40,000Arabs in
retaliation (out of the 19 century colonial playbook mentality)
• The events and the aftermath of Setif provide us with a disturbing of the way that things
will be for the next 17 years
Legacies of Setif
• It means that the extremists on both sides are increasingly in charge. The moderates, the ones
that might be able to negotiate some time of solution they are increasingly drowned out.
• BecauseAlgeria is considered a part of France the events inAlgeria will have a significant role
in French Domestic Politics. • Also means that it provided theArabs over the edge and the only solution for them was an
• So groups start to form different factions with their own ideas. They all have the same goal but
each group is so focused on their own ideas that they cannot work together. This was especially
true in the beginning. This takes a decade for the movements to come together in large
• 1955 - National Liberation Front (FLN)
• This is the driving force for independence,
They are committed to using violence to achieve its ends
• Launches a series of terrorist attacks and specifically targets three different groups:
1. ColonialAdministrators (Responsible running of day-to-day running from France)
these people are collaborators. Element of terror to get the local population to not
collaborate or will be killed.
2. Pieds-Noir: recognizes thatAlgeria cannot be their own country with ex-patriot
Frenchmen.Algeria will be achieved if the Pieds-Noir go back to Europe or Die.
3. The French Military: attacks FrenchArmy Bases. The French army maintains order
and control inAlgeria without this control and order there will no longer be a French
• Terror invites counter terror there are responses from 2 of these groups
• French Military has counter attacks designed to create severe problems for the FLN. Over
power their society and attack FLN bases, arrest FLN operative and engage interrogation
methods that include torture for these suspected FLN peoples.
Pieds-Noir set up their own terrorist organizations and engage in acts of terror aimed at
• These countermeasures are as violent as the FLN and the body count is mountainous
• Over an 8 year peered 1955-1962 the death toll is in the 10s of thousands of Frenchand almost
a millionAlgerians this is a tenth of the population.
• This is fueled because of the irreconcilable positions.
French Domestic Politics
• When the voting was won in France by Center Left parties there would be a negotiated
settlement in FrenchAlgeria (1966).
• The French Political system is not like out parliamentary system. There are lots of parties and
governments are only formed through collations and has taken several parties to do this.
• This new party is trying to have a moderate settlement but people are not interested in this.
• When the Primer goes toAlgeria and he is so poorly treated by the Pieds-Noir and realizes that
they cannot negotiate with the FLN or et Pieds Noir or they will kill him.
• With a government that wanted a peaceful resolution and was open to independence instead
steps up the military force inAlgeria, by the end of the year there are 400,000 French troops in
• 1956-57 there are more issues and the crisis inAlgeria makes things even worse.
Meanwhile the FLN is winning a great deal of international sympathy for itself.
• The new President of Egypt is expressing support in words and in weapons in secret. • Amotion is passed at the UN supporting the FLN
• Even someAmerican politicians express their support for Independence John Fitz-Gerald
• This causes significant issues for Frances relationships for denying and expressing support
• Between France and West Germany, radios being manufactured (transmit and receive) are
going to the FLN when the receipts are saying they are going other places.
• Supplies are coming in from both Morocco and Tunisia and Egypt, the FLN are well equipped
• The fact that they are able to get supplies that are able to use their territory as bases and this
increases the conflict
• The local french military commander has been watching the supplies coming and they know
that the FLN is getting supplies and is allowed to do something in Feb 1958 and was allowed
to bomb a town in Tunisia.
• There was cries from around the world and UN passed a motion condemning France’s actions
and other countries offered to mediate for the France and France considered it meddling in
• For the Pieds-Noir they believe that the French politicians will give into the cowards and give
them their independence.And they find that there is a lot of sympathy for this idea within the
• They have started to identify with the Pieds-Noir and they are being increasingly annoys with
Paris. In May 1958 there is a coup d’tat Launched by Right Wing elements of the Pieds-Noir.
• They seize control of the administration ofAlgeria and they make their position clear. They
will not allow theArabs to take control ofAlgeria and opposed to