Can Algeria and France forget the past? | Algeria | Al Jazeera
Jul 5, Fifty years after Algeria's independence, France is still in denial to address what this dark period did for relations between the two countries. Relations between France and Algeria span more than five centuries. This large amount of time has led to many changes within the nation of Algeria;. French Algeria also known as Colonial Algeria, began in with the invasion of Algiers and lasted until , under a.
Promises of emancipation excited the Algerian people, as they would finally be able to form a sovereign nation. As a response, inFrench citizenship was given as an option to many North Africans. This, however was not enough to satisfy Algerians and an uprising soon followed. The French replied with brute force[ citation needed ], suppressing the Algerian population, killing thousands upon thousands of Algerians.
Opposition continued against the French, and the brute force used by the French as well continued. In total, estimates of the deaths range from 1, to 45, deaths, with many more wounded. Following the events of the past as the Setif Massacre, French rule was introduced again. This allowed exceptions to republican law, including Sharia laws applied by Islamic customary courts to Muslim women which gave women certain rights to property and inheritance which they did not have under French law.
From first armed operations of November'Pieds-Noirs' civilians have always been targets for FLNeither by assassination, bombing bars and cinemas and mass massacres, torture and rapes in farms. In May a demonstration for French Algeria, led by Pieds-Noirs but including many Muslims, occupied an Algerian government building. General Massu controlled the riot by forming a Committee of Public Safety demanding that his acquaintance Charles de Gaulle be named president of the French Fourth Republicto prevent the "abandonment of Algeria".
This eventually led to the fall of the Republic. In response, the French Parliament voted to to place de Gaulle in power. Once de Gaulle assumed leadership, he attempted peace by visiting Algeria within three days of his appointment claiming "French Algeria!
This paramilitary group began attacking officials representing de Gaulle's authority, Muslims, and de Gaulle himself. The OAS was also accused of murders and bombings nullifying reconciliation opportunities between the communities,  while 'Pieds-Noirs' themselves never believed such reconciliation possible as their community was targeted from the start.
In July, Algerians voted 5, to 16, to become independent from France. This was an occasion for a massacre of 'Pieds-Noirs' in Oran by a suburban Muslim population. European people were shot, molested and brought to Petit-Lac slaughterhouse where they were tortured and executed. Algeria experienced a high level of dependency on France in the first years after the revolution and a conflicting desire to be free of that dependency. The already established trade links, the lack of experienced Algerian government officials, and the military presence provided for in the Evian Accords ending the War of Independence ensured the continuance of French influence.
France supplied much-needed financial assistance, a steady supply of essential imports, and technical personnel. French military units were almost immediately pulled out. France, although apparently willing to maintain cooperative relations, was overlooked as Algeria, eager to exploit its new independence, looked to other trade partners.
Shortly afterward, Algerian interest in resuming French-Algerian relations resurfaced. France wanted to preserve its privileged position in the strategically and economically important Algerian nation, and Algeria hoped to receive needed technical and financial assistance.
French intervention in the Western Sahara against the Polisario and its lack of Algerian oil purchases, leading to a trade imbalance in the late s strained relations and defeated efforts toward bilateral rapprochement.
In Benjedid was the first Algerian leader to be invited to France on an official tour, but relations did not greatly improve. Nationalized Algerian gas companies, in attempting to equalize natural gas export prices with those of its neighbors, alienated French buyers in the late s and early s, however. Later gas agreements resulted in a vast growth of bilateral trade into the billions of dollars. Further disputes over natural gas pricing in the late s led to a drastic drop in French-Algerian imports and exports.
The former fell more than 10 billion French francs, the latter 12 billion French francs between and A new price accord in resurrected cooperative ties.
The new agreement provided substantial French financial assistance to correct trade imbalances and guaranteed French purchasing commitments and Algerian oil and gas prices. French support for Benjedid's government throughout the difficult period in when the government appeared especially precarious and subsequent support for economic and political liberalization in Algeria expedited improved French-Algerian relations.
Finally, rapprochement with Moroccoa number of joint economic ventures between France and Algeria, and the establishment of the UMA relaxed some of the remaining tensions. French policies toward Algerian immigrants have been inconsistent, and French popular sentiment has generally been unfavorable toward its Arab population.
It seems silly when one hears that Algiers wants Paris to present an official apology like that which former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi presented to al-Gadhafi in regarding Italian fascist crimes in Libya. On the other hand, Dr. Algerians fought for their dignity and identity and to preserve the sovereignty of their native soil. They strongly rejected any special administrative status from Paris.
French Algeria - Wikipedia
They did not negotiate for a seat in the French Parliament. Instead, first the Algerian elite, then the people themselves, rose up against the tyranny that threatened their very existence.
A serious, credible witness from one of the southern cities told me that the politicians who are beating the drum in Algiers over the issue of an apology from France, are, at the same time, coming here for their bi-yearly check-up and medical treatment, sending their children to study, and their wives to shop in France. Every day people die in the Mediterranean, embarking in death-boats, in search of a better life on the European continent.
The evaluation of the past should not stop with memory alone, but perhaps the transmission of that memory and the lessons it bears can be delivered to the young, who are so lost in the hypocrisy of the times. They are the future and they know that both countries must establish a sincere relationship based on trust, mutual respect and shared interests, with economic and academic cooperation, and surely on the issue of national security.
Hence, as the Libyan and the Malian quagmire depends, Paris is desperately looking to Algiers to save its face from this dilemma, which former-President Sarkozy generated in the region.