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Chronology 2011

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Algeria’s protests began in January 2011, sparking violent clashes with police. More than 100 people were arrested, and at least three people were killed. But unlike Algeria’s Arab neighbors, the protests did not escalate into a mass uprising. Algerians were still wary of unrest after the “black decade,” a bloody civil war in the 1990s that killed more than 100,000 people. Small-scale demonstrations continued into 2012, but they failed to gain enough momentum to pressure President Abdelaziz Bouteflika – in office since 1999 – to offer any significant political changes.

January: Protests erupted over unemployment and food prices. The government reduced food prices, but small protests continued for more than a year.

Feb. 24: Bouteflika lifted the state of emergency, which had been in place for 19 years.

April 15: Bouteflika announced constitutional reforms. They included a new media law to permit private television stations and an election law that made it easier for new political parties to register.

August: AQIM attacked a military school outside Algiers and kill 18 people.

2012

The Movement of Society for Peace (MSP), Algeria’s largest Islamist party, was initially emboldened by the success of Islamist parties in Tunisia, Egypt, and Morocco after the Arab Spring. Since 2004, it had been part of an alliance with two secular parties, including the National Liberation Front (FLN). In January 2012, the MSP quit the alliance and joined forces with two smaller Islamist parties, Ennahda and al Islah. The three parties ran together in the 2012 parliamentary elections as the Algerian Green Alliance.But secular parties trounced Islamists in May 2012. The FLN won 220 seats, nearly half the seats in parliament. The Algerian Green Alliance secured only 48 seats – even less than the 52 won by the MSP alone in 2007.

Jan. 1: The MSP withdrew from the ruling coalition, but it leaves its four ministers in office.

March 7: The MSP formed the Algerian Green Alliance with two other Islamist parties, Ennahda and al Islah, for the parliamentary elections.

May 10: Algeria held parliamentary elections. The ruling FLN won 220 out of 463 seats, and the Algerian Green Alliance won only 48.

2013

The deadliest al Qaeda attack since 2011 occurred after a breakaway faction of AQIM held a four-day siege of a gas plant at In Amenas, killing dozens of hostages.

Jan. 16: Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda attacked a gas complex at In Amenas and killed dozens of foreign hostages in a four-day siege.

April 27: Bouteflika suffered a stroke and spent three months in France.

2014

By 2014, there were still few challenges to Algeria’s military regime. The Algerian Green Alliance attempted to revive Islamist support in the 2014 presidential election, but they failed to field a candidate and boycotted the race. On April 17, 2014, Bouteflika won a fourth presidential term, even after an illness that had left him largely absent from public life for nearly two years. 

Algeria also faced a growing threat from ISIS. Jund al Khilafah, a faction of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), split off to join ISIS in September 2014. 

March 3: Bouteflika announced his intention to run for re-election. He had not been seen in public for nearly two years due to illness. Demonstrations were held in Algiers after his announcement, and police arrested 40 protesters.

April 17: Bouteflika won a fourth presidential term, despite not campaigning due to illness.

September: Jund al Khilafah, a faction of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), declared allegiance to the Islamic State. The group kidnapped and beheaded French citizen Herve Gourdel in retaliation for France’s intervention in Iraq. 

October 14: Hundreds of police officers protested outside government offices in Algiers, demanding better working conditions.

December: Oil prices declined, and the government implemented a public sector hiring freeze to make up for lost revenue. Fearful that the spending cuts might spark unrest, the oil minister asked Saudi Arabia to cut production and raise prices.

2015

In 2015, Algeria’s Islamist parties remained largely powerless. The MSP resumed its pragmatic approach of working with the ruling National Liberation Front. MSP leaders held discussions with the regime about economic reforms, political transitions, and rule of law in April. But the approach eroded their legitimacy as an opposition party.

Madani Mezrag, who led an armed wing of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) during Algeria's civil war in the 1990s, attempted to reenter politics in 2015. He claimed to want to form a party based on FIS principles, while working within Algeria’s existing political system. Technically, Mezrag is forbidden to join politics under the terms of the 1997 ceasefire. By the end of 2015, the government had not approved his request to form a new party.

May: Security forces killed 21 militants who had been planning to attack the capital city of Algiers.

June: ISIS released a statement promising to ramp up its activities in Algeria. 

2016

Security was a top concern of Alegeria in 2016. The Algerian military chief heightened the army's state of alert over Libyan border security due to the on-going violence and arms trafficking concerns. Security personnel also continued operations against ISIS and al Qaeda militants. 

Jan 12: Algerian security forces arrested seven Islamist gunmen and seized weapons, as well as three vehicles, in an ambush near the southern gas plant of In Amenas.

Jan. 29: Algerian troops killed four Islamist militants and recovered munitions and grenades in an operation west of Algiers. The Defense Ministry said they were part of a group that had carried out an attack that left nine soldiers dead in July 2015.

Feb. 4: German police arrested an Algerian man suspected of training with the Islamic State in Syria and of planning an attack in Germany.

March 11: The Algerian army said it has killed three Islamist militants and seized a large quantity of weapons, including six anti-aircraft missiles, two explosive belts, three rocket-propelled grenade launches and more than 20 guns, in an operation near the eastern city of El Oued.

March 14: Algeria’s top military chief heightened the army’s state of alert over Libyan border security due to concerns of arms trafficking and the ongoing violence in neighboring Libya.

March 15: A Belgium counterterrorism raid resulted in the death of an Algerian man with potential links to radical Islam.

March 18: Militants fired rocket-propelled grenades in an attack on the In Salah gas facility. AQIM claimed responsibility for a rocket attack. The gas plant’s operating oil companies BP and Statoil decided to withdraw their employees from Algeria.

March 20: A security sources said the Algerian army killed four militants that authorities suspected were behind the March 19 attack on the Krechba gas facility.

March 21: Algerian troops killed six Islamist militants and captured arms and munitions in the southeast near the Tunisian border.

March 23: Algerian security forces shot and killed an Islamist militant wearing a suicide bomb belt before he could detonate his explosives in a small town near Tizi Ouzou.

March 24: Algerian security forces killed three Islamist militants in an ambush following an army sweep of the forests of Sid Ali Bounab in Tizi Ouzou, part of the mountainous region east of the capital.

April 28-May 20: Authorities killed at least 20 Islamist militants in the Boumerdes and Skikda regions.

Jun. 19: Algerian troops killed eight Islamist militants, arrested four, and captured weapons in an operation in the Rouakeche area of Medea, south of the capital.

Aug. 4: France expelled an Algerian man who is suspected of having links with jihadist networks.

Aug. 24: Senior security sources said that Algerian forces have cleared out Islamic State-affiliated militants from the mountains east of the capital Algiers.

Sept. 29: The Algerian Defense Ministry said the Algerian army killed five armed Islamist militants and seized weapons, munitions and food supplies during a sweep of the forests of Tazoult in the Batna province.

Oct. 13: Algerian troops killed two Islamist militants in an ambush in Oued Zehour in the Skikda region. Abu Doujana, a senior commander of the Islamic State-allied group Jund al Khalifa, was killed. He was blamed for the beheading of Frenchman Herve Gourdel in a remote mountain area of Algeria in September 2014.

Oct. 28: Three gunmen shot and killed an Algerian police officer at a restaurant in a northern district of Constantine. The gunmen were believed to be local Islamic State affiliates.

Oct. 30: Algerian counter-terrorism forces searched for Islamist militants around the city of Constantine after the assassination of a police officer on October 28.

Nov. 3: The Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, released his first statement in almost a year, addressing “soldiers of the Islamic State,” specifically citing Algeria, amongst other countries, where ISIS had established affiliates and provinces. Baghdadi referred to them as the “pillars of the caliphate,” stressing that they are essential for the Islamic State’s survival now more than ever.

Nov. 6: Algeria’s army seized a cache of weapons, including 17 anti-aircraft missiles, 28 grenades, 27 grenade detonators, 20 ammunition magazines, 200 bullets and one rocket launcher in the southern desert province of Adrar.

2017

Secularists continued to dominate politics. The National Liberation Front won a majority in the parliamentary elections early in the year. Then, in November, ruling parties retained their majority in local elections. 

Feb. 26-27: A militant bomber attempted to attack a police station in eastern city of Constantine but was shot and killed before he could enter the building. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attempted attack.

May 4:  The National Liberation Front (FNL) and allied National Democratic Rally (RND) retained majority rule in the National Assembly by securing 261 out of 462 seats in parliamentary elections. The elections were marked by low turnout. Only 35 percent of Algerians voted.

May 31: ISIS gunmen wounded four soldiers on patrol in Blida province, 19 miles south of Algiers. “A patrol of gendarmerie were targeted by gunfire on Wednesday at 2200 by a group of terrorists,” said the ministry of defense. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack and claimed to have destroyed two vehicles.

July 26: Security forces busted an ISIS cell led by Mohamed Yacine Aknouche, a former al Qaeda commander who was accused in 2004 of plotting to bomb the city of Strasbourg, France. Algerian forces captured Aknouche near the coastal city of Timpaza. The al Qaeda cell was reportedly planning terrorist attacks in Algiers.

Aug. 31: An ISIS suicide bomber killed two police in an attack on a police station in western Algeria. The militant stormed a police post in the city of Tiaret and detonated his belt before police could stop him.

Nov. 24: The country’s two ruling parties, FLN and RND, retained majority rule in the municipal and prefect assemblies by winning 30.56 percent and 23.21 percent of the vote, respectively. The Islamist coalition, including Movement for Society and Peace (MSP) and three smaller parties, fared worse than in the 2012 local elections, receiving only 3.7 percent of the vote.

2018

May 18: Algeria’s Islamist opposition urged the government to form a consensus on economic reforms to end the country’s reliance on oil and gas. “A government needs full support from political parties, unions and organizations to implement difficult reforms. This is why we need a consensus,” said Abderazak Makri, head of the Islamist MSP party. Makri said he would run for president in the April 2019 elections if the government did not include Islamists in economic decisions.

Sept. 3: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika dismissed 12 generals in a bid to diminish the military’s influence in government. The move was part of a security reform initiative that aimed to turn Algeria’s military into a more professional body. Bouteflika consolidated power in his small, non-military circle ahead of 2019 presidential elections.

Oct. 18: Algeria banned women from wearing full-face veils at work due to identification issues. The decision angered the country’s Salafist minority. Islamist lawmaker Masoud Amrawi called the law “a declared war on Islam.”

Oct. 24: The governing coalition, led by the FLN and RND, elected Mouad Bouchareb as speaker of parliament. He replaced Saïd Bouhadja, who had been ousted for mismanagement. Politicians from the opposition, including the Islamist coalition, boycotted the vote and called Bouhadja’s removal a “coup.”

2019

Jan. 2: The government closed its southern border with Mali and Niger to all Syrian refugees over security concerns that militants were entering the country. Officials said that more than 100 Syrians had attempted to enter the country using fake Sudanese passports with the help of militant groups. Algeria reportedly deported 50 Syrian and Palestinians to Niger the previous week.

Jan. 18: The government announced that presidential elections would be held on April 18. The FLN did not say whether President Abdelaziz Bouteflika would run for a fifth term.

Feb. 10: President Bouteflika officially confirmed that he would run for a fifth term after uncertainty due to his failing health. “In response to all pleas and calls ... I declare today my candidacy for the presidential elections,” he told state media.

Mar. 11: President Bouteflika rescinded his candidacy for re-election after weeks of protests against his 20-year rule. He cited his age and failing health as factors in the decision. The government also said that the election, scheduled for April, would be postponed to later in the year. Bouteflika announced that an ”inclusive and independent” national conference would be held to draft a new constitution and set the date for elections. Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia also announced his resignation.

Mar. 14: Newly-appointed Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui said that he would form an interim government that included protestors from opposition groups. He announced the creation of an independent commission to oversee the upcoming presidential election. But opposition parties, including the Islamist coalition, refused to hold talks with the prime minister. Abderrazak Makri, an opposition leader from the Muslim Brotherhood–aligned Movement of Society for Peace, demanded that all Bouteflika regime officials step down.

April 2: President Bouteflika announced his formal resignation from the presidency after 20 years in power. He had previously said that he would not run for a fifth term but would remain in power until the upcoming elections. Demonstrations continued after Council of the Nation speaker ‘Abdelkader Bensalah, a politician in Bouteflika’s inner circle, was announced as the interim president.

April 10: Interim President ‘Abdelkader Bensalah set the date of the country’s presidential elections as July 4. Army chief of staff General Ahmed Gaïd Salah said that the government would prosecute members of former President Bouteflika’s inner circle for corruption—a major demand of protesters.

April 13: More than 100 magistrates in charge of overseeing the July 4 presidential elections announced the decision to boycott the elections in solidarity with protesters. They said that legitimate elections would not be held under the framework imposed by the Bouteflika regime.

June 2: The Constitutional Council cancelled elections planned for July 4 due to a lack of candidates. The announcement was viewed as a victory for the opposition, including Islamist parties, who had boycotted elections under the existing framework and institutions.

July 11: The country’s parliament elected Slimane Chenine, the leader of an Islamist coalition including Movement of National Construction party, Ennhada and Adala, as the body’s next speaker. Chenine was a writer and journalist who had actively participated in the protests that ousted former President Bouteflika on April 2.

Sept. 30: The country’s largest Islamist party, the Movement of Society for Peace, announced that it would not nominate a candidate in presidential elections scheduled for December 12. The decision was made following a vote by party’s Shura Council. The party would decide later whether to support a consensus candidate for the opposition.

Nov. 17: The campaign period for December presidential elections began with five candidates on the ballot. Ali Benflis and Abdelmadjid Tebboune, two former prime ministers, were considered favorites in the race. Many Islamists supported former tourism minister and moderate Islamist Abdelkader Bengrina. Demonstrators gathered in Algiers for a 39th consecutive week to protest the elections.

Nov. 20: The military detained eight people attempting to join Islamist militant groups in the Sahel region. The men were arrested in Ghardaia and Relizane provinces, according to the defense ministry.

Dec. 12: Abdelmadjid Tebboune, a former prime minister in the Bouteflika regime, was elected president. He was the preferred candidate of the military establishment. The official voting turnout was a record low of around 40 percent, but analysts suggested the figures were much lower. Demonstrators took to the streets to protest the results. “We didn’t vote,” they chanted. Opponents said that Tebboune represented part of the old system, referred to as “le pouvoir,” which had governed Algeria since independence from France in 1962.  

2020 

Jan. 2: Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad appointed a new government. But he retained the same foreign, energy and interior ministers as Abdelaziz Bouteflika's administration. The selections sparked backlash from protestors who said the officials represented the old system. Bouteflika ruled the country from 1999 until his death in April 2019. Islamists were left out of the new government. 

Feb. 9: The Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on a military barracks in southern Algeria near the border with Mali. The suicide bombing killed one soldier. “The martyred brother Omar al Ansari ... entered the base and exploded his car against them,” the Islamic State said in a statement. 

June 5: French forces killed Abdelmalek Droukdel, the leader of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and members of his inner circle during an operation in northern Mali near the Algerian border. Droukdel, an Algerian national, had directed numerous attacks in North Africa and the Sahel region, including a 2016 assault on a hotel in Burkina Faso that left 30 dead and three bomb attacks in the capital Algiers in April 2007 that killed 22 people. Droukdel had been in hiding for more than seven years. AQIM confirmed his death in a statement on June 18. 

June 23: The Movement of the Society for Peace (MSP), Algeria’s largest Islamist party, voiced opposition to a draft of the country’s new constitution. Abderrazak Makri, the party’s leader, published a list of reservations which included: “amplifying the powers of the President of the Republic, and depriving any undesirable parliamentary majority.” Makri also said that the new constitution would facilitate “the removal of the president in a guaranteed, undemocratic manner, by creating the position of vice president.” 

Cameron Glenn, Mattisan Rowan and Alex Yacoubian contributed to this chronology.