Insurgency Theory and the Conflict in Algeria: A Theoretical Analysis
Terrorism and Political Violence
abstract
In the early nineties it was widely feared that Algeria was on the verge of an Islamic revolution. These fears proved to be unfounded. This article seeks to explain the failure of the insurgency to topple the current government through the use of three models of successful insurgency movements: urban insurrection, peasant‐based guerrilla warfare and focoism. Analysis shows that the first two of these models cannot be applied to the situation in Algeria because of the nature of the Algerian topography, the lack of foreign sanctuaries for the insurgents and the authoritarian nature of the Algerian regime. The single success of the third model is a historical anomaly, unlikely to lead to the overthrow of the current Algerian government, but leading to a fourth and final model; urban terror. It is the clandestine nature of this fourth model which provides for the longevity of the current insurgency, yet because of its inability to meaningfully challenge the state, gain recruits, and maintain centralized control over the movement, the insurgency degenerates, perpetrating the seemingly senseless acts of violence currently occurring in Algeria today, the natural aftermath of a failed insurgency.