Unpacking the History of the French-Algerian Conflict

Friday, January 18, 2013

Malian National guards patrol on January 16, 2013 at a military airbase in Bamako. (Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images)

The violent flashpoint between militant Islamic extremists in North Africa and western-backed governments struggling to contain them has been unfolding over the past few days in Algeria. Islamic militants have taken responsibility for a hostage taking of Westerners, after France began a bombing campaign meant to stamp out the southward push of Islamic extremism in neighboring Mali.

A rescue mission to free the group of foreign hostages is ongoing, though some reports have indicated that both hostages and their captors have been killed.

It’s a familiar history in that region of the world. November 1954 marked the beginning of Algeria’s war of independence against France. It was one of the bloodiest colonial wars of the 20th century. On November 1st, 1954, the National Liberation Front launched attacks across Algeria leaving a dozen people dead. The French conceded Algerian independence eight years later. Around 500,000 people had died in the war.

Robert Fowler knows this history well, and how it influences the current situation in Algeria. Fowler served as Canada’s former ambassador to the UN from 1995 to 2000. During his ambassadorship he was kidnapped by Al Qaeda militants and held hostage for more than four months. He is author of the book: "A Season in Hell: My 130 Days in the Sahara with Al Qaeda."


Robert Fowler

Produced by:

Jen Poyant

Comments [1]

Mike from Oregon

I'm an engineer. Was laid off 10 yrs ago. Couldn't get another job.

1- Everyone wants to work in an office, and a clean white shirt. A real engineer works with their hands as well as their mind. They work in a laboratory/machine shop, and a dirty white shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

2- Everyone likes "gadgets". Gadgets add to complexity and probability of failure. Al Einstein said (something like), 'designs should be as simple as possible, but not simpler'.

3- The primary goal of a real engineer is to create something that works. The primary goal of most corporations is to "maximize return to shareholders" (read your proxy statement). The primary goal of many managers is to build their own little kingdoms.

Jan. 18 2013 01:53 PM

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