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Algeria’s Independence and Its Driving Factors Essay


Among the numerous independence struggles that were witnessed during the colonial period, Algeria’s was predominantly brutal. Many Algerians and French settlers lost their lives. A number of factors led to Algeria gaining independence. One of the factors was terrorism. The National Liberation Front (FLN) used terrorism to frustrate the French regime. Other factors were pressure from the international community and lack of support in France. Back in France, people felt that their activities in Algeria tainted the country’s international reputation. Besides, the United States was reluctant to support French activities in Algeria. In France, fascists joined hands with European settlers to reproach De Gaulle’s actions in Algeria. What’s more, some army officers defected and joined Algerians in their fight for independence. Nationalism made it hard for the French government to get collaborators. Algerians, who did not join the combatant group, worked around the clock to sell the group’s agenda.


Horne posits, “Among the numerous independence struggles convulsing the colonial world after the Second World War, Algeria’s was particularly savage” (Horne, 1978: 34). The war lasted for about eight years, and at least one million Algerians lost their life. For decades, western powers were unable to occupy Algeria due to Napoleonic wars. However, after the wars ended, the desire by western powers to conquer Algeria increased, leading to French occupation. The French government sought to establish its rule by frustrating the local Algerian economies. It dismantled all the home schools and altruistic organizations. In addition, Algerian Muslims were required to abandon their religion to get French citizenship (Horne, 1978: 39). These evils and many others meted on the Algerian Muslims triggered the rebellion. Algerian nationalism and call for the establishment of an autonomous Islamic state began taking root in the country. The French government failed to honor the demands issued by the Algerians leading to the eruption of the Algerian War of Independence. A number of factors resulted in the country gaining independence. The factors ranged from increased terrorism to the use of propaganda, among others. This paper will discuss some of the factors that led to Algerian gaining independence.

Factors that led to independence

The Algerians established the National Liberation Front (FLN); a military group to steer ahead of their fight for freedom (Maran, 1989: 75). The military group knew that it had to enjoy full support from all the Algerians to overcome the French government. Hence, it came up with terrorism as one of its strategies. The strategy did not only help the National Liberation front to gain support in Algeria, but it was also effective in frustrating the French government. The FLN targeted European settlers and French military personnel as a move to weaken the regime. They established terrorist cells in the major cities, which targeted not only the French military personnel but also the European civilians (Windrow, 1997: 134). Women were the primary propagators of terrorism in Algeria. It was hard for men to enter into the main cities due to thorough screening. However, women were able to go through the checkpoints without difficulties (Irwin, 2001: 92). Therefore, they were ready to give up their folks to join the FLN. The National Liberation Front used women to assassinate French government leaders. Though women were also used to plant bombs in public places as a way to frustrate the French regime (Arslan, 1966: 122). Ultimately, the French administration called for a ceasefire, but the FLN was not ready for a ceasefire if Algerians were not assured of their independence. The French and European settlers got tired of the terrorist attacks and staged demonstrations. They urged the French soldiers to support the call for independence, and this marked the end of the French regime (Turshen, 2002: 904).

Another factor that led to Algeria gaining independence was pressure from the French settlers in Algeria as well as from the international community (Hutchinson, 1978: 71). The United States was torn between supporting the French activities in Algeria and calling for Algeria’s independence. On the one hand, supporting the French activities would have negatively affected American reputation. On the other hand, failure to support the French would have affected the American dealings with France (Gianluca, 2009: 140). Therefore, the United States remained reluctant about joining any side. The position taken by the United States made it hard for France to pursue its agenda in Algeria.

The French settlers believed that the war in Algeria affected the French reputation (Fanon, 1965: 302). They did not see the rationale for participating in a war that tainted the country’s international image. Back in France, the fascists came up with the Vincennes Committee, which called for Algerian independence. Additionally, some army officers and white settlers met in Madrid and formed Organisation de l’Armée Secrète (OAS), which put pressure on the French regime in Algeria to leave the country (Connelly, 2002: 162). The call for the French soldiers to desist from committing further killings in Algeria led to De Gaulle surrendering. He agreed to honor the outcome of a referendum, which was to determine if the Algerians want to be independent.

Growth of nationalism and an increase in propaganda are other factors that led to Algeria gaining independence (Connelly, 2001: 226). One of the ways that colonial regimes sustained their authority in Africa was by looking for sympathizers or collaborators. They could get all the information about rebellions through the collaborators (Quandt, 1984: 23). In Algeria, however, it was hard for the French government to get collaborators. The regime put the Algerians through a lot of hardships. Consequently, they did not see the importance of supporting the French government. It became hard for the French government to know what combatant groups were planning (Jackson, 1977: 198). Algerians were united in the effort to liberate their country. For those who did not go to fight, they were ready to serve as propaganda machines. They came up with all sorts of information that negatively portrayed the image of the French government and sold the information to all Algerians (Evans, 2012: 103). The propaganda made the FLN to gain popularity and to acquire new recruits throughout the country.

It was hard for the French government to win the support of the women, who are, in most cases, considered to be a soft target. Nationalism made women go to the level of establishing their terrorist cells and staging attacks (Vince, 2010: 453). The French government could not get the information necessary to thwart rebellion in Algeria. Hence, the National Liberation Front caught the government ill-equipped in many times.

Personal opinion

In my opinion, the course of action that led to Algeria’s independence was inevitable. The French government was determined to impose its policies in Algeria at all costs. That is why it did away with domestic schools and benevolent institutions. On the other hand, Algerians were not ready to do away with their culture, leave alone to welcome another one. Hence, the French started on a long footing since they landed in Algeria. A government is supposed to make sure that it meets the public interest for it to gain support. However, the French government never tried to satisfy the interests of the Algerians. In its place, it worked hard to oppress the Algerian as a means to impose its authority in the country. The Algerians had no choice but to revolt and look for avenues to liberate themselves. The National Liberation Front is a new movement, had to find ways to gain popularity in the country. Staging terrorist attacks were the ultimate way to encourage Algerians to support the movement and to scare the white settlers. The attacks helped the movement to get new recruits in the country. Moreover, they scared the European settlers prompting them to rebel against their government.


Numerous factors led to Algeria gaining independence. One of these factors was terrorist attacks staged by the National Liberation Front. Many white civilians and French military personnel were assassinated, leading to demonstrations by the white settlers. Other factors that led to independence were nationalism and the use of propaganda. The majority of the Algerians were ready to die for their country. Besides, they used all sorts of negative and, at times, false accusations against the French government. It became hard for the government to gain local and international support, therefore becoming weak. The French were left with no option but to grant the Algerians their demands.

Reference List

: Algeria: a revolution that failed (London: Pall mall Press Ltd, 1966).
Connelly Matthew: ‘Rethinking the Cold War and Decolonization: The Grand Strategy of the Algerian War for Independence’ in International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Volume 33, Number 2, 2001, pp. 221-245.

Connelly Matthew: A Diplomatic Revolution: Algeria’s Fight for Independence and the Origin of the Post Cold War Era (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

Evans Martin: Algeria: France’s Undeclared War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

Fanon Frantz: A Dying Colonialism (New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1965).

Gianluca Parolin: Citizenship in the Arab World: Kin, Religion and Nation (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2009).

: A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954–1962 (New York: Viking, 1978).
Hutchinson Martha: Revolutionary Terrorism (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1978).

Irwin Wall: France, the United States, and the Algerian War (California: University of California Press, 2001).

Jackson Henry: The FLN in Algeria: party development in a revolutionary society (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1977).

: : The Role of in the French-Algerian War (New York: Prager Publishers, 1989).
Quandt William: Between Ballots and Bullets: Algeria’s Transition from Authoritarianism (Harrisonburg, Virginia: Donnelley and Sons Co., 1984).

Turshen Meredith: ‘Algerian Women in the Liberation Struggle and the Civil War: From Active Participants to Passive Victims’ in Social Research, Volume 69, Number 3, 2002, pp. 889-911.

Vince Natalya: ‘Transgressing Boundaries: Gender, Race, Religion and ‘Fracaises Musulmannes during Algerian War of Independence’ in French Historical Studies, Volume 33, Number 3, Summer 2010, pp. 445–474.

: The Algerian War 1954–62 (London: Osprey Publishing, 1997).

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