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The Algerian Revolution (Arabic: ?????? ?????????? Al-Thawra Al-Jaz?’iriyya; French: Guerre d'Algérie, "Algerian War") was a conflict between France and Algerian independence movements from 1954 to 1962, which led to Algeria gaining its independence from France. An important decolonization war, it was a complex conflict characterized by guerrilla warfare, maquis fighting, terrorism against civilians, the use of torture on both sides, and counter-terrorism operations by the French Army. The conflict was also a civil war between loyalist Algerians who believed in a French Algeria and their insurrectionist Algerian Muslim counterparts. Effectively started by members of the National Liberation Front (FLN) on November 1, 1954, during the Toussaint Rouge ("Red All Saints' Day"), the conflict shook the foundations of the French Fourth Republic (1946–58) and led to its eventual collapse.
Fall of the Fourth Republic
Recurrent cabinet crises focused attention on the inherent instability of the Fourth Republic and increased the misgivings of the army and of the pied-noirs that the security of Algeria was being undermined by party politics. Army commanders chafed at what they took to be inadequate and incompetent political initiatives by the government in support of military efforts to end the rebellion. The feeling was widespread that another debacle like that of Indochina in 1954 was in the offing and that the government would order another precipitate pullout and sacrifice French honor to political expediency. Many saw in de Gaulle, who had not held office since 1946, the only public figure capable of rallying the nation and giving direction to the French government.
After his tour as governor general, Soustelle had returned to France to organize support for de Gaulle's return to power, while retaining close ties to the Army and the pied-noirs. By early 1958, he had organized a coup d'état, bringing together dissident Army officers and pied-noirs with sympathetic Gaullists. An Army junta under General Massu seized power in Algiers on the night of May 13, thereafter known as the May 1958 crisis. General Salan assumed leadership of a Committee of Public Safety formed to replace the civil authority and pressed the junta's demands that de Gaulle be named by French president René Coty to head a government of national unity invested with extraordinary powers to prevent the "abandonment of Algeria."
On May 24, French paratroopers from the Algerian corps landed on Corsica, taking the French island in a bloodless action, Operation Corse. Subsequently, preparations were made in Algeria for Operation Resurrection, which had as objectives the seizure of Paris and the removal of the French government. Resurrection was to be implemented if one of three scenarios occurred: if de Gaulle was not approved as leader of France by the parliament; if de Gaulle asked for military assistance to take power; or if it seemed that communist forces were making any move to take power in France. De Gaulle was approved by the French parliament on May 29, by 329 votes against 224, 15 hours before the projected launch of Operation Resurrection. This indicated that the Fourth Republic by 1958 no longer had any support from the French Army in Algeria and was at its mercy even in civilian political matters. This decisive shift in the balance of power in civil-military relations in France in 1958, and the threat of force was the main, immediate factor in the return of de Gaulle to power in France.
Many people, regardless of citizenship, greeted de Gaulle's return to power as the breakthrough needed to end the hostilities. On his June 4 trip to Algeria, de Gaulle calculatedly made an ambiguous and broad emotional appeal to all the inhabitants, declaring: "Je vous ai compris" ("I have understood you."). De Gaulle raised the hopes of the pied-noir and the professional military, disaffected by the indecisiveness of previous governments, with his exclamation of "Vive l'Algérie française" ("Long live French Algeria") to cheering crowds in Mostaganem. At the same time, he proposed economic, social, and political reforms to improve the situation of the Muslims. Nonetheless, de Gaulle later admitted to having harbored deep pessimism about the outcome of the Algerian situation even then. Meanwhile, he looked for a "third force" among the population of Algeria, uncontaminated by the FLN or the "ultras" (colon extremists) through whom a solution might be found.
De Gaulle immediately appointed a committee to draft a new constitution for France's Fifth Republic, which would be declared early the next year, with which Algeria would be associated but of which it would not form an integral part. All Muslims, including women, were registered for the first time on electoral rolls to participate in a referendum to be held on the new constitution in September 1958.
De Gaulle's initiative threatened the FLN with the prospect of losing the support of the growing numbers of Muslims, who were tired of the war and had never been more than lukewarm in their commitment to a totally independent Algeria. In reaction, the FLN set up the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic (Gouvernement Provisoire de la République Algérienne, GPRA), a government-in-exile headed by Abbas and based in Tunis. Before the referendum, Abbas lobbied for international support for the GPRA, which was quickly recognized by Morocco, Tunisia, several other Arab countries, China, and a number of African and other Asian states but not by the Soviet Union.
ALN commandos committed numerous acts of sabotage in France in August, and the FLN mounted a desperate campaign of terror in Algeria to intimidate Muslims into boycotting the referendum. Despite threats of reprisal, however, 80 percent of the Muslim electorate turned out to vote in September, and of these 96 percent approved the constitution. In February 1959, de Gaulle was elected president of the new Fifth Republic. He visited Constantine in October to announce a program to end the war and create an Algeria closely linked to France. De Gaulle's call on the rebel leaders to end hostilities and to participate in elections was met with adamant refusal. "The problem of a cease-fire in Algeria is not simply a military problem", said the GPRA's Abbas. "It is essentially political, and negotiation must cover the whole question of Algeria." Secret discussions that had been underway were broken off.
In 1958–59 the French army had won military control in Algeria and was the closest it would be to victory. In late July 1959, during Operation Jumelles Colonel Bigeard, whose elite paratrooper unit fought at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, told journalist Jean Lartéguy (source):
"We are not making war for ourselves, not making a colonialist war, Bigeard wears no shirt (he shows his opened uniform) as do my officers. We are fighting right here right now for them, for the evolution, to see the evolution of these people and this war is for them. We are defending their freedom as we are, in my opinion, defending the West's freedom. We are here ambassadors, Crusaders, who are hanging on in order to still be able to talk and to be able to speak for." Col. Bigeard (July 1959)
During this period in France, however, opposition to the conflict was growing among many segments of the population, notably the leftists, with the French Communist Party, then one of the country's strongest political forces, which was supporting the Algerian Revolution. Thousands of relatives of conscripts and reserve soldiers suffered loss and pain; revelations of torture and the indiscriminate brutality the army visited on the Muslim population prompted widespread revulsion, and a significant constituency supported the principle of national liberation. International pressure was also building on France to grant Algeria independence. Annually since 1955 the UN General Assembly had considered the Algerian question, and the FLN position was gaining support. France's seeming intransigence in settling a colonial war that tied down half the manpower of its armed forces was also a source of concern to its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies. In a September 16, 1959, statement, de Gaulle dramatically reversed his stand and uttered the words "self-determination" as the third and preferred solution , which he envisioned as leading to majority rule in an Algeria formally associated with France. In Tunis, Abbas acknowledged that de Gaulle's statement might be accepted as a basis for settlement, but the French government refused to recognize the GPRA as the representative of Algeria's Muslim community.
The week of barricades
Convinced that de Gaulle had betrayed them, some units of European volunteers (Unités Territoriales) in Algiers led by student leaders Pierre Lagaillarde and Jean-Jacques Susini, café owner Joseph Ortiz, and lawyer Jean-Baptiste Biaggi staged an insurrection in the Algerian capital starting on January 24, 1960, and known in France as La semaine des barricades ("the week of barricades"). The ultras incorrectly believed that they would be supported by General Massu. The insurrection order was given by Colonel Jean Garde of the Fifth Bureau. As the army, police, and supporters stood by, civilian pied-noirs threw up barricades in the streets and seized government buildings. General Maurice Challe, responsible for the Army in Algeria, declared Algiers under siege but forbade the troops from firing on the insurgents. Nevertheless, 20 rioters were killed during a firing on the boulevard Laferrière. Eight arrest warrants were issued in Paris against the initiators of the insurrection. Jean-Marie Le Pen, a member of parliament, who called for the barricades to be extended to Paris, and theorician Georges Sauge were then placed under custody.
In Paris on January 29, 1960, de Gaulle called on the army to remain loyal and rallied popular support for his Algerian policy in a televised address:
I took, in the name of France, the following decision — the Algerians will have the free choice of their destiny. When, in one way or another – by ceasefire or by complete crushing of the rebels – we will have put an end to the fighting, when, after a prolonged period of appeasement, the population will have become conscious of the stakes and, thanks to us, realised the necessary progress in political, economic, social, educational, and other domains. Then it will be the Algerians who will tell us what they want to be.... Your French of Algeria, how can you listen to the liars and the conspirators who tell you that, if you grant free choice to the Algerians, France and de Gaulle want to abandon you, retreat from Algeria, and deliver you to the rebellion?.... I say to all of our soldiers: your mission comprises neither equivocation nor interpretation. You have to liquidate the rebellious forces, which want to oust France from Algeria and impose on this country its dictatorship of misery and sterility.... Finally, I address myself to France. Well, well, my dear and old country, here we face together, once again, a serious ordeal. In virtue of the mandate that the people have given me and of the national legitimacy, which I have incarned for 20 years, I ask everyone to support me whatever happens.
Most of the Army heeded his call, and the siege of Algiers ended on February 1 with Lagaillarde surrendering to General Challe's command of the French Army in Algeria. The loss of many ultra leaders who were imprisoned or transferred to other areas did not deter the French Algeria militants. Sent to prison in Paris and then paroled, Lagaillarde fled to Spain. There, with another French army officer, Raoul Salan, who had entered clandestinely, and with Jean-Jacques Susini, he created the Organisation de l'armée secrète (Secret Army Organization, OAS) on December 3, 1960, with the purpose to follow-up the fight for French Algeria. Highly organized and well-armed, the OAS stepped up its terrorist activities, which were directed against both Algerians and pro-government French citizens, as the move toward negotiated settlement of the war and self-determination gained momentum. To the FLN rebellion against France were added civil wars between extremists in the two communities and between the ultras and the French government in Algeria.
Beside Pierre Lagaillarde, Jean-Baptiste Biaggi was also imprisoned, while Alain de Sérigny got arrested, and Joseph Ortiz's FNF dissolved, as well as General Lionel Chassin's MP13. De Gaulle also modified the government, excluding Jacques Soustelle, believed to be too pro-French Algeria, and granting the Minister of Information to Louis Terrenoire, who quit RTF (French broadcasting TV). Pierre Messmer, who had been member of the Foreign Legion, was named Minister of Defense, and dissolved the Fifth Bureau, the psychological warfare branch, which had ordered the rebellion. These units had theorized the principles of a counter-revolutionary war, including the use of torture. During the Indochina War (1947–54), officers such as Roger Trinquier and Lionel-Max Chassin were inspired by Mao Zedong's strategic doctrine and acquired knowledge of convince the population to support the fight. The Fifth Bureau were organized by Jean Ousset, French representant of the Opus Dei, under the order of Permanent Secretary General of the National Defense (SGPDN) Geoffroy Chodron de Courcel. The officers were initially formed in the Centre d'instruction et de préparation à la contre-guérilla (Arzew). Jacques Chaban-Delmas added to that the Centre d'entraînement à la guerre subversive Jeanne-d'Arc (Center of Training to Subversive War Jeanne-d'Arc) in Philippeville, Algeria, directed by Colonel Marcel Bigeard. According to the Voltaire Network, the Catholic stay-behind Georges Sauge animated conferences there, and one could read on the walls of the center the following maxim: "This Army must be fanatic, despising luxury, animated by the spirit of the Crusades" Pierre Messmer hence dissolved structures which had turned themselves against de Gaulle, leaving the "revolutionary war" to the exclusive responsibility of Gaullist General André Beaufre.
The French army officers uprising can be understood as following; some officers, most notably from the paratroopers corps, felt betrayed by the government for the second time after Indochina (1947–1954). In some aspects the Dien Bien Phu garrison was sacrificed with no metropolitan support, order was given to commanding officer General de Castries to "let the affair die of its own, in serenity" ("laissez mourrir l'affaire d'elle même en sérénité").
The opposition of the MNEF student trade-union to the participation of the conscripts to the war led to a secession in May 1960, with the creation of the Fédération des étudiants nationalistes (FEN, Federation of Nationalist Students) around Dominique Venner, a former member of Jeune Nation and of MP-13, François d'Orcival and Alain de Benoist, who would theorize in the 1980s the "New Right" movement. The FEN then published the Manifeste de la classe 60.
A Front national pour l'Algérie française (FNAF, National Front for French Algeria) was created in June 1960 in Paris, gathering around former De Gaulle's Secretary Jacques Soustelle Claude Dumont, Georges Sauge, Yvon Chautard, Jean-Louis Tixier-Vignancour (who would present himself as far-right candidate in the 1965 presidential election), Jacques Isorni, Victor Barthélemy, François Brigneau and Jean-Marie Le Pen. Another ultra rebellion occurred in December 1960, which led de Gaulle to dissolve the FNAF.
After the publication of the Manifeste des 121 against the use of torture and the war, the opponents to the war created the Rassemblement de la gauche démocratique (Assembly of the Democratic Left), which included the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO) socialist party, the Radical-Socialist Party, Force ouvrière (FO) trade union, Confédération Française des Travailleurs Chrétiens trade-union, FEN trade-union, etc., which supported de Gaulle against the ultras.
Role of women
Women fulfilled a number of different functions during the Algerian War. The majority of Muslim women who became active participants did so on the side of the National Liberation Front (FLN). The French included some women, both Muslim and French, in their war effort, but they were not as fully integrated, nor were they charged with the same breadth of tasks as their Algerian sisters. The total number of women involved in the conflict, as determined by post-war veteran registration, is numbered at 11,000, but it is possible that this number was significantly higher due to underreporting.
There exists a distinction between two different types of women who became involved, urban and rural. Urban women, who constituted about twenty percent of the overall force, had received some kind of education and usually chose to enter on the side of the FLN of their own accord. Largely illiterate rural women, on the other hand, the remaining eighty percent, due to their geographic location in respect to the operations of FLN often became involved in the conflict as a result of proximity paired with force.
Women operated in a number of different areas during the course of the rebellion. "Women participated actively as combatants, spies, fundraisers, as well as nurses, launderers, and cooks", "women assisted the male fighting forces in areas like transportation, communication and administration"  the range of involvement by a woman could include both combatant and non-combatant roles. While the majority of the tasks that women undertook centered on the realm of the non-combatant, those that surrounded the limited number that took part in acts of violence were more frequently noticed. The reality was that "rural women in maquis [rural areas] support networks"  contained the overwhelming majority of those who participated. This is not to marginalize those women who did engage in acts of violence but simply to illustrate that they constituted in the minority.
End of the war
De Gaulle convoked the first referendum on the self-determination of Algeria on January 8, 1961, which 75% of the voters (both in France and Algeria) approved and De Gaulle's government began secret peace negotiations with the FLN. In the Algerian départements 69.51% voted in favor of self-determination.
The "generals' putsch" in April 1961, aimed at canceling the government's negotiations with the FLN, marked the turning point in the official attitude toward the Algerian war. De Gaulle was now prepared to abandon the pieds-noirs, the group that no previous French government was willing to write off. The army had been discredited by the putsch and kept a low profile politically throughout the rest of France's involvement with Algeria.
Talks with the FLN reopened at Évian in May 1961; after several false starts, the French government decreed that a ceasefire would take effect on March 18, 1962. In their final form, the Évian Accords allowed the pieds-noirs equal legal protection with Algerians over a three year period. These rights included respect for property, participation in public affairs, and a full range of civil and cultural rights. At the end of that period, however, all Algerian residents would be obliged to become Algerian citizens or be classified as aliens with the attendant loss of rights. The agreement also allowed France to establish military bases in Algeria even after the independence (including the nuclear test site of Regghane, the naval base of Mers-el-Kebir and the aerial base of Bou Sfer) and to have advantages on the Algerian oil.
In the second referendum on the independence of Algeria held in April 1962 the French electorate approved the Evian Accords by an overwhelming 91 percent vote. On July 1, 1962, some 6 million of a total Algerian electorate of 6.5 million cast their ballots. The vote was nearly unanimous, with 5,992,115 votes for independence, 16,534 against, with most Pied-noirs and Harkis either having fled or abstained from voting. De Gaulle pronounced Algeria an independent country on July 3. The Provisional Executive, however, proclaimed July 5, the 132nd anniversary of the French entry into Algeria, as the day of national independence.
During the three months between the cease-fire and the French referendum on Algeria, the OAS unleashed a new terrorist campaign. The OAS sought to provoke a major breach in the ceasefire by the FLN but the terrorism now was aimed also against the French army and police enforcing the accords as well as against Muslims. It was the most wanton carnage that Algeria had witnessed in eight years of savage warfare. OAS operatives set off an average of 120 bombs per day in March, with targets including hospitals and schools. Ultimately, the terrorism failed in its objectives, and the OAS and the FLN concluded a truce on June 17, 1962. In the same month, more than 350,000 Pied-noirs left Algeria.
Despite the Evian Accords guarantees towards the French citizens, after the end of June civilians became the target of systematic FLN attacks. It quickly became apparent to Europeans that the new government would not ensure their safety or enforce their rights. The Oran massacre of 1962, four days after the vote, is the main example of deliberate strategy of killing to terrorize pieds-noirs and push them to leave. These tactics proved effective. Summer 1962 saw a rush to France. Within a year, 1.4 million refugees, including almost the entire Jewish community and some pro-French Muslims, had joined the exodus to France. Despite the declaration of Independence on July 5, 1962, the last French forces did not leave the Naval Base of Mers El Kébir until 1967. (The Evian Accords had permitted France to maintain its military presence for fifteen years—the withdrawal in 1967 was significantly ahead of schedule.)
Pieds-Noirs' and Harkis' exodus
Pieds-Noirs (including indigenous Mizrachi and Sephardi Jews) and Harkis accounted for 13% of the total population of Algeria in 1962. For the sake of clarity, each group's exodus is described separately here, although their fate shared many common elements.
Pied-noir (literally "black foot") is a term used to name the European-descended population (mostly Catholic) that had been in Algeria for generations; it is sometimes used to include the indigenous Mizrachi and Sephardi Jewish population as well, which likewise emigrated after 1962. The Europeans had arrived as immigrants from all over the western Mediterranean (particularly France, Spain, Italy and Malta), starting in 1830. The Jews had arrived in several waves, some coming in Roman times starting in 600 BC and some had arrived as refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, and had largely embraced French citizenship after the décret Crémieux in 1871. Some Jews were in fact indigenous Berbers who had embraced Judaism before the advent of Christianity. In 1959, the pieds-noirs numbered 1,025,000 (85% of European Christian descent, and 15% were made up of the indigenous Algerian population of Mizrachi and Sephardi Jewish descent), and accounted for 10.4% of the total population of Algeria. In just a few months in 1962, 900,000 of them fled or left the country, the first third prior to the referendum, in the most massive relocation of population to Europe since the Second World War. A motto used in the FLN propaganda designating the Pied-noirs community was "Suitcase or coffin" ("La valise ou le cercueil") – an expropriation of a term first coined years earlier by pied-noir "ultras" when rallying the European community to their hardcore line.
The French government claimed not to have anticipated that such a massive number would leave; at the most it said it estimated that perhaps 250–300,000 might choose to go to metropolitan France temporarily. Nothing was planned for their move to France, and many had to sleep in streets or abandoned farms on their arrival. A minority of departing pieds-noirs, including soldiers, destroyed their possessions before departure, applying scorched earth policy in a sign of protestation and as a desperate symbolic attempt to leave no trace of over a century of European presence, but the vast majority of their goods and houses were left intact and abandoned to Algerians. Scenes of thousands of panicked people camping for weeks on the docks of Algerian harbors waiting for a space on a boat to France were common from April to August 1962. About 100,000 pieds-noirs chose to remain, but most of those gradually left over the 1960s and 1970s, primarily due to residual hostility against them, including machine-gunning of public places in Oran.
The so-called Harkis, from the Algerian-Arabic dialect word harki (soldier), were the indigenous Muslim Algerians (as opposed to European-descended Catholics or indigenous Algerian Mizrachi Sephardi Jews) who fought as auxiliaries on the side of the French army. Some of these were veterans of the Free French Forces who participated in the liberation of France during World War II or in the Indochina War. The term also came to include civilian indigenous Algerians who supported a French Algeria. According to French government figures, there were 236,000 Algerian Muslims serving in the French Army in 1962 (four times more than in the FLN), either in regular units (Spahis and Tirailleurs) or as irregulars (harkis and moghaznis). Some estimates suggest that, with their families, the indigenous Muslim loyalists may have numbered as many as 1 million
In 1962, around 91,000 Harkis took refuge in France, despite French Government policy against this. Pierre Messmer, minister of the armies and Louis Joxe, minister for Algerian affairs gave orders to this effect. The Harkis were seen as traitors by many Algerians, and many of those who stayed behind suffered severe reprisals after independence. French historians estimate that somewhere between 50,000 and 150,000 Harkis and members of their families were killed by the FLN or by lynch mobs in Algeria, often in atrocious circumstances or after torture. The abandonment of the "Harkis" both in terms of non-recognition of those who died defending a French Algeria and the neglect of those who escaped to France, remains an issue that France has not fully resolved—although the government of Jacques Chirac made efforts to give recognition to the suffering of these former allies.
While it is admitted that any attempt to estimate casualties in this war is nearly impossible, the FLN (National Liberation Front) estimated in 1964 that nearly eight years of revolution had cost 1.5 million dead from war-related causes. Some other French and Algerian sources later put the figure at approximately 960,000 dead, while French officials estimated it at 350,000. French military authorities listed their losses at nearly 25,600 dead (6,000 from non-combat-related causes) and 65,000 wounded. European-descended civilian casualties exceeded 10,000 (including 3,000 dead) in 42,000 recorded terrorist incidents. According to French official figures during the war, the Army, security forces and militias killed 141,000 presumed rebel combatants. But it is still unclear whether all the victims were actual fighters or merely civilians, mostly due to the Algerian press and the Second Bureau (the intelligence agency), which regarded every Muslim civilian as a rebel.
More than 12,000 Algerians died in internal FLN purges during the war. In France, an additional 5,000 died in the "café wars" between the FLN and rival Algerian groups. French sources also estimated that 70,000 Muslim civilians were killed or abducted and presumed killed, by the FLN.
Historians, like Alistair Horne and Raymond Aron, consider the actual number of war dead was far greater than the original FLN and official French estimates but was fewer than the 1 million adopted by the Algerian government. Horne has estimated Algerian casualties during the span of eight years to be around 700,000. Uncounted thousands of Muslim civilians lost their lives in French Army ratissages, bombing raids, or vigilante reprisals. The war uprooted more than 2 million Algerians, who were forced to relocate in French camps or to flee into the Algerian hinterland, where many thousands died of starvation, disease, and exposure. In addition, large numbers of pro-French Muslims were murdered when the FLN settled accounts after independence with 30-150,000 allegedly killed in Algeria by FLN in post-war reprisals. 
Lasting effects in Algerian politics
After Algeria's independence was recognised, Ahmed Ben Bella quickly became more popular and thereby more powerful. In June 1962, he challenged the leadership of Premier Benyoucef Ben Khedda; this led to several disputes among his rivals in the FLN, which were quickly suppressed by Ben Bella's rapidly growing support, most notably within the armed forces. By September, Bella was in control of Algeria by all but name, was elected as premier in a one-sided election on September 20, and was recognised by the U.S. on September 29. Algeria was admitted as the 109th member of the United Nations on October 8, 1962. Afterward, Ben Bella declared that Algeria would follow a neutral course in world politics; within a week he met with U.S. President John F. Kennedy, requesting more aid for Algeria with Fidel Castro and expressed approval of Castro's demands for the abandonment of Guantanamo Bay. Bella returned to Algeria with another request: that France withdraw from its bases there. In November, his government banned the party, providing that the FLN would be the only party allowed to function overtly. Shortly thereafter, in 1965, Bella was deposed and placed under house arrest (and later exiled) by Houari Boumédiènne, who served as president until his death in 1978. Algeria remained stable, though in a one-party state, until the violent civil war broke out in the 1990s.
For Algerians of many political factions, the legacy of their War of Independence was a legitimization or even sanctification of the unrestricted use of force in achieving a goal deemed to be justified. Once invoked against foreign colonialists, the same principle could also be turned with relative ease against fellow Algerians. The determination of the FLN to overthrow the colonial rule and the ruthlessness exhibited by both sides in that struggle were to be mirrored 30 years later by the determination of the FLN government to hold onto power, by the Islamist opposition to overthrow that rule, and by the brutal struggle which ensued.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Algerian War", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.