New POMED Policy Brief: Silent Complicity: The International Community and Algeria’s Democratic Façade
In POMED’s latest policy brief, John P. Entelis argues that the U.S. cannot continue to prioritize oil and security over democratic reform in its relationship with Algeria.
Civil unrest that occurred alongside the uprisings of the Arab Spring pushed the Algerian regime to make political concessions, such as legalizing new political parties and holding parliamentary elections. Despite the apparent value of these concessions, Algerian opposition members argued these were largely superficial, as they failed to penetrate the structure of le pouvoir that actually controls the state. Prior to the elections, it was predicted that voter turnout would be low (following the nation’s chronological trend ) and Islamists would see electoral success (following the region’s electoral trend). The reported results defied both of these predictions: voter turnout was high and the pro-regime alliance enjoyed overwhelming success.
Despite cries of fraud coming from within Algeria, the U.S. and other members of the international community congratulated the nation on its elections. By doing so, the U.S. reaffirmed its prioritization of stability over genuine democratic reform in Algeria. The policy brief recommends that the U.S. publicly acknowledge allegations of fraud, establish good governance and democratic assistance for Algeria, encourage resolution of the Western Sahara conflict with neighboring Morocco, and encourage Algeria to strengthen regional economic ties.
John P. Entelis is a Professor of Political Science and Director of Middle East Studies at Fordham University. He is editor of The Journal of North African Studies.
Photo credit: Francois Lenoir/Reuters