The colonial period in Algeria was a time of suffering and struggle for Algerians who fought to win back their freedom and defend their values against French attempts to subjugate them. It was also a struggle to end foreign control over the country’s wealth and resources. National independence sought a sovereign state with free decision-making, away from French influence in particular, in a context of ideological polarization and mutual hostility between ex-colonial forces and independent states. The root of such hostility lies in what both parties lost, and resulted in a distinctive pattern of French–Algerian bilateral relations tainted by nostalgia from the French side and the struggle for parity from the Algerian side. The three decades following Algeria’s independence witnessed, to a certain extent, a national sentiment opposed to colonial France, and it is the sentiment that Algerian politicians attempted to use to manage relations between the two countries and obtain some benefits by invoking the past in speeches at a local level, and to overcome that past in building relations with France. As a security crisis and economic decline hit Algeria, it became apparent that the French regime was to exert effective influence on the country and control its foreign policy to meet French aspirations and ambitions in both Africa and the Arab world. This conclusion suggested to several observers the fall of the Algerian elite, responsible for decision-making, under French influence. Moreover, this elite group, while dealing with several regional issues, was not able to assert complete independence in its decision-making regarding foreign affairs, whether due to its past and formation or to the network of new relations built between the Algerian and French systems. This reality, which is deeply rooted in the Algerian foreign policy system, raises the question of the ability of the Algerian elite to pull away from its colonial inheritance and the grip of the French regime. One might therefore wonder how historical events and Algerian solid ties with the French administration shape French–Algerian relations and their political agendas.
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Research Article| March 01 2020
Colonial Legacy in Algerian–French Relations
Contemporary Arab Affairs (2020) 13 (1): 69–85.
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Salim Hamidani; Colonial Legacy in Algerian–French Relations. Contemporary Arab Affairs 1 March 2020; 13 (1): 69–85. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/caa.2020.13.1.69
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