Misfortune or Injustice? The Political Work of Postconflict Narrative in Contemporary Algeria

Misfortune or Injustice? The Political Work of Postconflict Narrative in Contemporary Algeria ABSTRACT∞ The Algerian regime has used a variety of stories to explain and refer to the conflict that occurred in the 1990s. This article explores these major narratives which were employed in regime discourse between 1996 and 2015. The article highlights the strategic use of language shifts between narratives identifying the violence as either ‘misfortune’ or as ‘injustice.’ The research presented here draws on analysis of a variety of primary source documents (government statements, official speeches at the domestic and international levels), in connection with fieldwork carried out by the author. The article highlights the dynamics associated with the two narratives, asking specifically what political work is being accomplished through the strategic use of regime narrative. INTRODUCTION The language used by governments can be a useful heuristic for understanding the broader policy goals and interests of otherwise opaque regimes. Studying the discourses employed by regimes can shed light on the political consequences of changes in policy that are otherwise obscured. Contemporary Algeria provides a particularly fruitful case for this type of analysis, as policy decisions are difficult to track and major events occur mostly behind the screen of the civilian–military alliance. After two decades of authoritarian Arab socialism, the civilian government attempted to liberalize the economy in the face of rising oil prices, leading to widespread protests at the end of 1988. Algeria experienced its own ‘Arab uprising’ two decades early.1 However, after a brief and halted democratic opening, the country descended into what is commonly called a ‘civil war’ by regional experts, or ‘the period of terrorism’ by locals.2 The violence lasted until the early 2000s. Ruled since that time by an ambiguous alliance between the military and the civilian government, Algerians have become accustomed to identifying Abdelaziz Bouteflika – president since 1999 – with the establishment. During this time, Algerians have experienced a series of postconflict policies dealing with the violent legacy of the 1990s. This article examines the discourses employed through and in support of these policies, with particular attention to the change enacted in 2005 through the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation (CPNR). The article demonstrates the discursive shift that the CPNR ushered in – one depicting the violence as misfortune rather than injustice – and the political work done by this change in narrative.3 First, I outline the methods I used to study this political context through discourse. I include a brief discussion of my approach to discourse. I then explain why the politics of memory regarding past violence is well suited for discourse analysis. Next, I provide a succinct summary of the events that characterized Algeria’s recent past, including a discussion of the postconflict legislation. The second half of the article examines the critical juncture of 2005 and the discursive distinctions that have characterized politics since that time. The article closes with a discussion about the work that is accomplished through the adoption of this discourse, its political consequences, and some conjectures about why the shift in narrative occurred when it did. I discuss whether we can understand this new discourse as hegemonic within Algeria today, and the insights gained from this analysis for the field of transitional justice. METHODOLOGICAL PROCESS AND PERSPECTIVE This article draws on two types of data. First, I examined the language used in primary source documents exemplifying the regime’s discourse about the violence of the 1990s, and the solutions adopted to deal with it. These documents include three major pieces of legislation and their accompanying memorandums, multiple interviews and 11 public speeches given by President Bouteflika – the indisputable architect of the postconflict period. I also completed a review of public statements by Bouteflika in the post-Arab uprisings period. Additionally, I carried out interviews and participant observation in Algeria between 2014 and 2015, with civil society actors in the human rights sector.4 For each of these texts, I used the qualitative data analysis tool Nvivo to code keywords and phrases that demonstrate discursive logic. I read through and analyzed each text as a whole and in relation to the other texts within the set. The texts are for the most part in French, although occasionally Algerian dialect was used.5 Finally, I carefully read the secondary literature on Algeria’s violence. This combination of sources allowed me to analyze the discourse presented by Bouteflika within the context of contemporary events in Algeria. Discourse can be understood as ‘a particular way of representing certain…aspects of the world, whether physical, social, or psychological.’6 However, it also has a constitutive element, and is a ‘way of talking about and acting upon the world which both constructs and is constructed by a set of social practices.’7 In their elaboration of discursive analysis, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe identify ‘nodal points’ as ‘particular element[s] assuming a “universal” structuring function within a certain discursive field’ – a field such as discourse about the past.8 Nodal points (such as ‘victim’) serve to anchor or organize discourse into logical wholes. The definitions attributed to these nodal points change through discursive shifts. Social actors employ discourses (intentionally and unintentionally) as a means of facilitating political dominance. Discourse is meaningful if it is possible to establish some form of hegemony over individuals’ conception of their political context, and therefore impact how they act within it. Through this study of discourse, I ask two main questions to determine whether discursive hegemony has been achieved: Are key actors demonstrating that they are ‘persuaded by, or forced to accept, the rhetorical power of the new discourse?’ and do ‘we see impacts of the given discourse on the policy process?’9 If so, what work is accomplished by this discourse and how is it politically relevant for understanding Algeria and other transitional justice cases? THE POLITICS OF MEMORY IN POSTCONFLICT CASES Historical memory studies and transitional justice scholarship have recently begun to cross-pollinate.10 Their combination reveals how dominant narratives (which define memory accounts) come to be hegemonic in periods after conflict. Collective memory of violent periods is malleable and constructed in nature.11 There are elements of the story that are contested, emphasize varying themes and lessons, and some that are officially erased. The process of revealing and obscuring aspects of the dominant memory story often results from actions and preferences of particular groups. It is not always possible to distinguish whether these reinterpretations occur simply by default or through intentional discursive changes introduced by actors to legitimize particular renderings of the past. Francesca Lessa highlights critical junctures as turning points for narrative transformation in her study of Argentina and Uruguay.12 The narratives themselves impact the choice of transitional justice mechanisms and can lead to full-scale reorientation of policies concerning the past. I adopt a similar perspective here by dividing the historical timeframe since Algeria’s violence into two distinct time periods of analysis: 1996–2004 and 2005–2015. POLITICS OF DISCOURSE A society’s relationship with the past (and its very definition) is contingent upon the contemporary power play. State actors attempt to establish a modicum of consensus to facilitate social and political advancement (toward peace or stability). Divergence between versions of the past can serve as a window into the balance of power and contemporary political struggle. Discourse is a symbolic system that can be analyzed in terms of the political work ‘accomplished through it’ as it produces meaning.13 Here, I analyze regime discourse as accomplishing two things: first, as ‘representing political phenomena’ – the hegemonic interpretation of the past by the current government; and second, I analyze discourse as ‘generating [particular] political consequences,’ meaning I show a relationship between the discourse adopted by elite actors and the political dynamics of the postconflict environment.14 I understand discourse as ‘a wide-ranging body of ideas, concepts and institutions’ that can work to enact and maintain the power (political) dynamics of the status quo.15 I analyze specific instances of language used by Bouteflika to study the larger consequences of the discourse embedded in it. In short, a focus on discourse is based in an epistemological perspective that ‘linguistic interaction’ reproduces the ‘social structure’ and therefore the study of discourse allows one to identify dynamics of power relations that otherwise would remain invisible.16 Discourse analysis is skeptical of truth claims and recognizes the relationship between language and power. Therefore, it is an excellent tool for study of the work accomplished by competing versions of the past. The Algerian regime has historically employed specific discourses to bolster the legitimacy of the ruling elite and foster regime stability.17 Just as national histories are known to often be constructed post facto, ‘Images of the post-conflict present become the window through which the conflictual past is imaginatively constructed’ through discourse.18 The truth of what happened is not central here, but rather what these new understandings can accomplish when they are widespread. Through examination of the cases of Argentina and Uruguay, Lessa highlights changes over time that impact the definition of nodal points such as ‘perpetrator’ and ‘victim.’19 Mahmood Mamdani’s work analyzing the political foundations of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Nuremberg trials highlights these, while also emphasizing the ‘nature of the violence’ from the conflict period.20 As will be shown, the nodal points of ‘victim,’ ‘perpetrator’ and ‘nature of the violence’ are also essential for understanding shifts in Algerian discourse about the past. ALGERIA’S VIOLENCE The Algerian military has been the most constant political actor since independence. However, in the early 1990s, Algeria briefly experienced multiparty democratic competition. This opening was possible because the state-directed economic management of the previous two decades failed to meet the needs of the population as the economy shifted with falling oil prices and the increasing weight of the inefficient patronage system. The regime had adopted uneven liberalization in the 1980s. This impacted the population, accustomed to a strong welfare state that historically provided aid in a variety of domains. The rentier mentality was strong.21 The state’s extensive system of payouts to the mujahideen (veterans of the war of independence and their family members) added ideological and historic legitimacy to the system of rents. The market destabilization caused by falling oil prices led to protests throughout the major urban centers of Algeria in 1988. The government (dealing with internal strain between the military and civilian leadership pushing economic reforms) initially stalled, and then lashed out. Approximately 500 civilians were killed when the military used live ammunition on protestors in early October of that year. The event was catastrophic for the regime. The government proposed a new constitution (1989), allowing for the creation of political parties (and multiparty elections) for the first time.22 Dozens of parties were created, vying for local and regional elections. Unexpectedly, a new Islamist party, the Islamic Salvation Front (Front Islamique du Salut, or FIS), gained 54.25 percent of votes in municipal elections in June 1990. It seemed poised to take a majority in the second round of parliamentary elections, to be held in January 1992. Members of the military, secular civil society and the incumbent National Liberation Front (Front de Libération Nationale) were collectively unprepared for the rise of the FIS, and various actors called for the annulment of the electoral process. In June 1991, parliamentary elections were postponed and the government stepped down. The military created a High State Committee (HSC) to maintain order through a state of emergency.23 Thousands of local-level party members and candidates of the FIS were sent to prison camps in the Sahara.24 This removed the leadership and local actors who had been participating in the electoral process on the side of the FIS – essentially those Islamists who had opted for electoral participation. The context quickly militarized, with acts of violence attributed to both the military and Islamists who had taken up arms against the state. A fractured insurgency developed, split between a handful of groups attacking the military and state apparatus.25 From mid-1992 to the early 2000s, everyday life was uncertain and brutal for residents of Algiers and its environs, with assassinations, bombings, civilian massacres and military control of transportation routes throughout the country.26 Violence was used by both sides, including the use of torture, enforced disappearance and executions of locals and foreigners.27 In 1994, the HSC appointed Liamine Zeroual as president. He was officially elected the following year. He twice attempted negotiations for a peaceful settlement and withdrawal of the military from politics. Both attempts failed.28 Then peace negotiations were initiated in collaboration with the Sant’Egidio religious community of Italy in 1994/1995.29 All important political actors participated but the peace negotiations were rejected by the military establishment (which was in secret negotiations with the FIS and its armed wing, the Islamic Salvation Army) as a breach of sovereignty.30 Starting in 1996, the regime (led officially by Zeroual but managed by the military) proposed a series of institution-building measures. Between 1995 and 1997, elections were held for president; the constitution was revised, introducing a second parliamentary chamber; and the upper house, the regional assemblies and the communal assemblies were elected.31 Additionally, Zeroual introduced the first legislation aimed at ending the conflict, known as the Law of Clemency (rahma). Throughout, he attempted to convince insurgents to defect by offering clemency to those who had committed only petty infractions (discussed in more detail below). But the highest number of civilian causalities occurred during civilian massacres in the summers of 1996, 1997 and 1998.32 Finally, in 1999, when the insurgency was weakened, the military proposed the presidential candidacy of Bouteflika, calling formally for civilian rule. Bouteflika was celebrated as a real democratic candidate, but the charade was obvious when the remaining four candidates withdrew the night before the elections. The military was still sole governor.33 Bouteflika’s arrival coincided with a general reduction in violence and a policy shift that solidified through his second presidential mandate (2005–2009) and continued through his fourth (starting in 2014). In 1999, the government issued the second law of note – the Law of Civil Concord, which proposed amnesty and social reintegration of certain insurgents willing to return arms and reenter civilian life. The policy was passed through national referendum.34 The enacting legislation stipulated that individuals responsible for rape or massacres were exempt from amnesty. Until 1999, insurgents that had been caught, or those accused of participation in assassinations or terrorist activities, were often tried, imprisoned and sometimes executed. The military’s heavy-handed tactics dominated the period but were integrated into the framework that nonetheless incorporated the judicial and penal system for the most egregious crimes. After 2005, this changed with the CPNR.35 Through these three laws, the civilian government progressively reoriented the policy of the state used to deal with the violence of the 1990s. It transitioned away from the judicial and penal logic, which took into account the political nature of the conflict in the previous decade, and moved toward a purely economic logic. Instead of recognizing that crimes (injustice) were committed that were clearly punishable through the legal system, the new policy framed the violence as misfortune, to be dealt with through compensation from the state. The regime opted for an economic apolitical approach. This ultimately obscured the agency of perpetrators of violence on all sides. MISFORTUNE Although conflict studies specialists have generally concluded that the violence in Algeria was a civil war with an Islamist insurgency, this is not the only understanding of the conflict. Nor was it dominant before 11 September 2001, after which a more complete global consensus emerged on an organic connection between terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism.36 Other theses contend that the conflict was based on economic grievances, attempts by intelligence and security agencies to infiltrate the insurgency, or individual-level dynamics (territorial rivalries, historical grievances or local electoral dynamics).37 This disagreement amongst scholars is a strong indication that multiple narratives reign. Post-2005, the regime adopted an official policy of ambiguity regarding culpability for violent acts during the 1990s. This new discourse frames violence of all types in terms of misfortune, rather than injustice. By emphasizing the nature of events during the ‘dark decade’ (la décennie noire or al-‘ashriyya al-sawda,’ a term used habitually by government officials) as misfortune, the regime justifies its policy of blanket amnesty, obscuring the agency (and therefore responsibility) of violent actors. What was defined as injustice in the 1995–2004 period was dealt with through punishment according to the severity of the crime. Although some individuals were extended amnesty even from the early days of the conflict in an (ineffective) policy to demilitarize insurgents,38 the defining characteristic of pre-2005 policies was the distinction between types of crimes that could and could not be amnestied. In contrast, misfortune describes uncontrollable, naturally occurring events, worthy of charity. As will be shown, by framing the conflict in terms of misfortune since 2005, the government has justified a solution focused on integration of citizens into the longstanding economic system of rents paid by the state. The implications of this policy are profound. First, they shape understandings of what caused the conflict, implying ambiguous, uncontrollable forces rather than identifiable choices by actors still present. Second, the consequence is the breakdown of the rule of law and emphasis on a purely economic (as opposed to penal or political) aspect of the government. The government’s role as benefactor overshadows its role as arbiter of justice, guarantor of rights or creator of public policy options. POLICY INITIATIVES BEFORE 2005 During the conflict (1992–2000), the government prosecuted and imprisoned insurgents. Additionally, in 2001 the government partially investigated allegations of violence perpetrated by state actors.39 However, in 2005/2006 the government enacted the CPNR – a blanket amnesty law covering all belligerents (including state actors) – and released from jail thousands of insurgents. The policy brought a distinct change from those enacted until 2004 in which the state employed traditional tools of criminal justice in postconflict contexts: confession of belligerents for reduced sentences, reintegration of insurgents with the exception of those who had carried out violent acts, and jail sentences or execution for the worst offenders (guilty of murder, massacres or use of explosives). The laws passed before 2004 (1995 Law of Clemency/Rahma and the 1999 Law of Civil Concord) recognized that certain individuals and groups had carried out political violence, and that rule of law required the state to punish these acts, while other individuals who had participated in less violent ways were allowed to reintegrate into society after informing the authorities of their activities.40 The state differentiated between the types of violations and responded accordingly. The policy recognized that the state must adjudicate between levels of crimes. The CPNR diverted attention away from the culpability of all types of belligerents (state, militia41 and insurgents) toward a policy of ambiguity. The regime narrative allowed for a reinterpretation of the conflict and solution in terms of solely economic issues, at the expense of the examination of issues such as impunity, political grievances, ideological disagreements and the rule of law. Bouteflika has played a foundational role in the establishment of this policy and is universally understood to be the face of the regime, if not always the sole driving actor. For this reason, a focus on the discourse used by him is warranted. By analyzing presidential discourse from 1996 to 2015, this article documents the political work accomplished since the shift in 2005. DISCURSIVE SHIFTS Three major policy documents have governed the regime’s attempts to manage the violent period. They serve as a window into the developing logic adopted by government actors. In a series of laws between 1992 and 1995, the government established a policy of leniency (qanoun ar-rahma). Referred to by the government as La Loi de Clémence, that translation from the Arabic inserts a notion of ‘pardon’ which is not in the original Arabic term rahma. Rather, rahma refers to the concept of a conquering power forgoing punishment or vengeance.42 This law itself outlined the process for legally attenuating the criminal proceedings for insurgents that gave up their arms, and permissible punishments for those individuals who had participated in ‘terrorist or subversive crimes,’ all the while excluding from rahma those who had committed the most egregious acts.43 The law took into consideration the political dynamics of the conflict, recognizing various levels and types of crimes worthy of distinct responses by the government.44 Second, in 1999 the government passed the Loi de la Concorde Civile (al-wi’am al-madani), or the Civil Concord Law. This law further institutionalized the rahma policy, outlining the particular cases in which the government would allow former insurgents to reenter civilian life (through reduction or removal of prison sentences). Both laws established a trade-off between the two parties. Those willing to admit to crimes, return arms to the state and provide information about their previous activities were allowed to return to civilian life. The major exception to this, outlined clearly in both laws, was individuals who had participated in the most extreme crimes. In the original iteration (1996), insurgents who had killed, maimed, damaged public property or used explosives were not allowed to benefit from the law. The 1999 Law of Civil Concord added to this barred group individuals who were guilty of rape. Both laws adhered to the logic of functioning judicial institutions and seem to have been carried out in this way since prison sentences were enacted for some insurgents. Additionally, Bouteflika’s initial public statements clearly demonstrated his rejection of measures that would undermine the rule of law. He characterized the violence of the 1990s as carried out by identifiable actors who had participated in clearly defined crimes. For example, in an interview with a reporter in 1999, Bouteflika explained: There is a very large part of the violence in Algeria that arises only from delinquency and criminality, which has absolutely no ideological foundation…there is [also] a part of the violence that might have a small ideological foundation…it is completely clear that I cannot go beyond [what] the Civil Concorde law [proscribes]… I was mandated by the people, and I will not betray the people to follow the will of x or y. Now, it is the state that must impose the law, with all its rigor.45Bouteflika identifies the violence as carried out by particular individuals, for particular criminally culpable reasons, and claims that the state has an obligation to respond with the rule of law. Later in the interview he states: I am in a situation where the constitution does not permit me to pass an amnesty. I can pronounce pardons, but I do not do amnesty. Amnesty comes from the parliament. Second, I do not have the intention of asking the parliament for this…it is completely clear that I will not ask the Algerian people to go [unclear audio] before these people who…rather, are not transparent, nor are they completely innocent [literally ‘white as snow’].46Bouteflika contends that a general amnesty would be inappropriate for Algeria because the people who committed the above-mentioned crimes are criminally culpable, and he could not ask the general population to overlook their actions. Here his language directly supports the rule of law and criminal responsibility and recognizes the institutional legitimacy of parliament. In early 2004, Bouteflika again outlined the six objectives toward the goal of ‘national revival’ – the first of which is ‘justice reform,’ meant to confirm the importance of the ‘rule of law.’47 THE CRITICAL JUNCTURE OF 2005 In 2005, the president began campaigning for a third law on the past violence, the CPNR. It passed by referendum after an intense period of campaigning by the president.48 The new legislation marked a turning point and, after 2005, the regime adopted a policy of progressive ambiguity concerning conceptions of ‘victim,’ ‘perpetrator’ and the ‘nature of the actual violence.’ Although the CPNR itself also distinguished the same categories of crimes that would be ineligible for amnesty, according to interviews carried out by the author, the application of the policy did not make a distinction between those who did and did not commit rape, massacres or use explosive materials. In discussions with the author, multiple legal experts claimed that after 2005 there were no documented cases of individuals being exempt from the amnesty law.49 In other words, most if not all insurgents willingly returning arms under the government’s new law were allowed to reenter society, including some who were previously broadcast on national television discussing their participation in the murder of Algerian soldiers.50 If in word the CPNR differentiated between crimes, in reality its adoption meant amnesty for all crimes. The discursive shift to misfortune indicates that this was intentional. The referendum laid the foundations for the discursive changes. The vote concerned support for the president’s proposal for the CPNR, without explanation of the actual proposal. Rather, the president gave a series of regional speeches in the 10 most populous urban centers, outlining in broad (and contradictory) terms his vision for peace and reconciliation. Algeria has a history of national referendums used essentially as a vote of confidence for a proposed, but undescribed, policy.51 In 2005, this allowed for a major reorientation of policy, while using a discourse (in the regional speeches) that implied continuity with the past policy. For example, in Constantine, President Bouteflika extolled, ‘if you are convinced, vote yes, and if your hearts are still full of hatred and if you are not those who pardon, vote no…you are free. This is a democracy.’52 In Algiers, he explained, ‘I have come to ask permission to vote “yes” for national reconciliation.’53 Throughout the campaign, voters were consistently asked to vote ‘yes’ ‘for national reconciliation’ and ‘peace’ although with no explanation of implementation. At the same time, Bouteflika reassured his audiences that the new charter would require that ‘persons who are implicated in crimes [of terrorism or subversion] will be brought before the courts.’54 Audience members were told the rule of law remained. Before the referendum, there was only suppressed discussion by the opposition (secular, Islamist and civil society).55 The ballots read: ‘Are you for or against the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation project that the government has proposed?’56 Individuals registered their vote by placing one of two cards into an envelope (‘yes’ or ‘no’). Citizens who went to the polls in late September 2005 voted ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to peace, not knowing how it would be achieved. Officially, 97.36 percent of voters supported the referendum.57 The organization of the referendum (with intentional lack of detail) allowed for a change in policy that was not at first apparent. The president campaigned on an idea that few were likely to reject. After approximately a decade of civil war, the majority of the population sought peace. Verbal promises to respect the rule of law and the rejection of a general amnesty were given in campaign speeches, but no documentation of policy proposals existed until the referendum had been passed. The referendum speeches also demonstrated how the regime would now characterize the violence of the 1990s. The discourse obscured the agency of perpetrators and confounded categories of victims (e.g., those of state abuses, as opposed to those attacked by insurgents). For example, in his speech in Algiers comparing the recent decade of violence to the war of independence against the French, Bouteflika claimed the past decade was ‘more difficult than the war of national liberation’ since ‘our enemy was [earlier] identified…the foreign colonizer. In contrast, during the years of terrorism, brothers killed each other. It was fitna.’58 Two points are in order. First, until 2004, the government identified perpetrators and made distinctions between those who had committed various levels of crimes. Individuals were tried and condemned to varying lengths of jail time. In contrast, here, the president argues that since everyone was Algerian, this distinction cannot be made. Second, the characterization of the period of violence as fitna is revealing. The term’s significance originates from the founding Muslim community. The Arabic root F-T-N denotes ‘temptation, trial…enticement…sedition, riot, discord, dissension [or] civil strife.’59 It came to be associated with the disagreement over the rule of the Muslim community that resulted in the Sunni–Shia split, later to be known as ‘the great Fitna.’60 In the modern era it has been used habitually by Arabic writers to identify and strongly condemn revolutionary movements that disintegrate authority and social order.61 The use of the term implies that the violence was the result of pernicious political activity by elements of the religious community.62 But its use also muddles attribution of responsibility and implies an ideological significance to the period of violence, further distancing it from the reality of specific crimes committed. These excerpts demonstrate a trend throughout all 10 referendum speeches. The use of allegorical language also helped to establish the idea that the violence was an uncontrollable event. For example, Bouteflika regularly discusses violence (or terrorism) as an illness. He defended the 2005 referendum in these words: ‘after the first “vaccination” of the civil harmony law, in 2000, the project for the charter [CPNR] is “the booster shot” for the return of peace in Algeria.’ The official version of the speech explains that in this way he was ‘identifying himself as a “doctor” who wants to heal the sickness of violence.’63 By adopting language that compares violence to a sickness that must be cured, the discourse obscures reality. Violence was committed for particular political reasons, and until recently was dealt with through the justice system. CODIFICATION OF CHANGE THROUGH IMPLEMENTING LEGISLATION The passage of the referendum allowed for the regime to officially integrate this new policy and discourse. After the referendum the enabling legislation for the CPNR obscured agency. This was done explicitly by the addition of a blanket amnesty for all acts carried out by agents of the state (police, military and state armed militias).64 The agency of perpetrators was also obscured indirectly through the language used in the implementing legislation. An analysis of the discourse used in the three legislative acts (1995, 1999 and 2006) clearly demonstrates this change. Throughout the two earlier documents there are multiple references to the conflict as injustice and to the rule of law. For example, the pre-2005 documents both refer to distinctions between crimes committed (and particular criminal penalties associated with them). The period of violence itself is referred to as the ‘transitional period’ and ‘crimes of terrorism and subversion’ are clearly mentioned.65 For example, in the Civil Concord Law (1999), the period itself is not defined, but detail is provided for an orderly reduction of sentences according to the crimes committed, again barring clemency for the most egregious acts. This is the logic of the rule of law. In neither document are there any characterizations of the period of violence in terms of misfortune and allegorical language is absent. In contrast, the enabling legislation passed after the referendum for the CPNR (in 2006) introduced a number of important discursive elements. For the first time in a legislative document, the period of violence is called ‘the national tragedy.’66 This is a recurring phrase, used widely by government actors and within the public. The term is even used publicly by the former head of the armed wing of the FIS, Madani Mezrag.67 It indicates in and of itself the widespread acceptance of a framing of misfortune as if the entire period of violence was an unexpected, uncontrollable event. Instead of talking about political actions taken (terrorism, subversion, economic or social policies), the legislation refers to the entire decade of political violence as a ‘national tragedy,’ implying a lack of determinable agency of perpetrators, and universal victimhood among the entire population. The legislation includes titles such as ‘implementation of measures meant to establish peace.’68 This language is vague. A more accurate title would be ‘implementation of amnesty for crimes committed’ or ‘crimes of terrorism and subversion,’ as had been stated previously. Rather, this euphemistic language demonstrates a shift away from criminal responsibility. Further on a title appears as ‘measures for the benefit of persons let go through administrative procedures for facts related to the national tragedy.’69 This amounts to verbal acrobatics, apparently to avoid stating that the law addresses individuals guilty of crimes. This conflicts with the previous language which identified crimes (injustices) in the legislation, and the previous policy of treating levels of crimes in distinct ways. The CPNR does use the term ‘terrorism,’ referring to ‘those who participated in terrorist actions.’70 Therefore, it does not completely erase the former emphasis on crimes committed. However, the use of language that obscures agency and highlights misfortune is quantitatively almost two times as likely to occur in that document, in comparison to language associated with the injustice framing. Emphasis on misfortune (replacing reference to injustice) is also visible in speeches given by the president since 2005. For example, in a speech given to the General Union of Algerian Workers in 2006, the president was two times more likely to refer to the period of violence in terms of misfortune than through language recognizing injustice. In 2011, responding to the protests in the region, Bouteflika referred to the violence of the 1990s as a time in which the population had struggled to release itself ‘from the grip of ignorance’ – a vague formulation given the death toll of approximately 100,000. He explained that ‘the major national stakes were…to put out the fire of fitna, to work for the re-establishment of peace and harmony and to consecrate the national reconciliation.’71 Then: Fitna is more serious than murder72 and it is for the price of blood and tears that Algeria has remained unified and strong, that the Republic and its democratic attainments are preserved and that hope is once again possible.73This characterization defies logic given the consensus of international and domestic actors just a decade before: the nature of the violence as an internal conflict among Algerians (of one stripe or another) was never questioned by any significant internal or external actors. The carnage was inflicted by Algerians, against Algerians, begging the question of how the population was itself unified during that period of time. His language focuses on collective suffering, as opposed to the individual suffering of particular victims of the violence. Through the concept of fitna, Bouteflika differentiates between murder (which was occurring on a daily basis, to extraordinary and banalizing proportions) and imbalance or chaos, the responsibility of which cannot be attributed to any one actor. If Bouteflika was the central civilian actor shaping the policy change in 2005/2006, it has since become apparent that he no longer holds this position. Changes to the constitution were made allowing him to run for third and fourth presidential terms. After an extended hospital stay in France (2013), it is common knowledge that he is very ill.74 He rarely makes public appearances, and often appears almost paralyzed when he does. This has meant fewer public statements. However, news reports indicate that Bouteflika has continued to use some of the same language. For example, in 2015, on the anniversary of the adoption of the CPNR, Bouteflika was quoted in local news as speaking about ‘the madness during the National Tragedy,’ saying, I seize this opportunity to reiterate the call of this lenient country to the misguided individuals to reconsider and abandon the path of crime to benefit from the provisions of the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation.75Although a mix of discourses is demonstrated in this quote, he uses language that downplays the criminal acts mentioned (since they were carried out by individuals who were simply misguided), exhorting adherence to the logic of the CPNR. WHY 2005? EXPLAINING THE SHIFT TOWARDS MISFORTUNE According to Antonio Gramsci, hegemony allows for maintaining social consensus without recourse to violence.76 Discursive shifts are significant to the extent that the regime can accomplish through them what it would otherwise need physical force to enact. Therefore, the consequences of the story being told by the regime since 2005 are important. But why did the shift occur in 2005? In 2003, Bouteflika also established a national commission to investigate and report on the alleged enforced disappearances of up to 10,000 Algerians by state forces.77 Initially, the government announced it would make the findings of the commission public. The commission reported to the president in a private meeting on 31 March 2005, but never disclosed its full conclusions to families or the wider population.78 This occurred six months before the referendum on the CPNR and four months before any of the referendum speeches, making the revelations regarding the extent of state actors’ responsibility for enforced disappearances a plausible motivating factor for the shift in discourse and policy. It seems that this was an important turning point for the Bouteflika regime – a critical juncture in terms of policy and discourse. Given the increasing pressure from civil society organizations representing victims of state violence and insurgent terrorism, the government could no longer advocate prison terms and opted for a policy that would remove criminal culpability from the national dialogue. This timing of the change demonstrated in the ambiguity of the referendum speeches indicates a desire to avoid criminal prosecution for state actors. It seems that revelation of state responsibility made it unthinkable to carry out the previously elaborated policy distinguishing between crimes eligible for amnesty and more reprehensible acts. Blanket amnesty was the only way for the government to continue to incentivize demilitarization among insurgents, while simultaneously assuring that state actors would not be prosecuted. The discourse shifted away from the original policy emphasizing the rule of law, toward policies and frames that suggest a context in which responsibility for violent crimes of all kinds is impossible to establish.79 This is important because the regime’s discourse has helped to quell the possibility of widespread support for social groups seeking a full review of the nature of crimes committed during the 1990s. In a transparent attempt to control the national narrative, the implementing legislation of 2006 also provides for fines and jail time for what amounts to discursive attacks on the regime’s narrative: any individual who by declaration, writings or any other act, uses or exploits the injuries of the national tragedy, to harm the institutions of the democratic and popular Republic of Algeria, to weaken the State, damage the honor of its agents who served it with dignity, or tarnish the image of Algeria in the international arena.80Interviewees indicated that this section of the law has not been applied despite the ongoing work of civil society groups representing victims of both state and insurgent violence, which routinely includes activities prosecutable under this law.81 It seems that the regime is, at least to this point, comfortable enough with its discursive hegemony not to need recourse to physical enforcement. Additionally, attempts to contest regime discourse emerged from the military early on.82 More recently, as the old guard exits, clan warfare has broken out into divisive debate in leading journals amongst individuals who orchestrated military activities in the 1990s. Recently, conflict has occurred between Bouteflika (and those supporting him) and former leaders of the military who are also capable of revealing compromising details about government activities in the past. As a result, in 2016, the regime passed legislation that silences retired military officials, and has even resorted to the trial and imprisonment of one general, Abdelkader Aït Ourabi, although justified for reasons not directly linked to the 1990s’ violence.83 By muzzling military actors who orchestrated the counterinsurgency campaign, the civilian government is attempting to sanction narratives that compromise the current discourse, ostensibly in a bid to take down personal rivals. The publication of multiple damning (highly contested) accounts of the conflict by former military actors, one of which led to a defamation case in France, indicates that discourse is contested from multiple directions, with a variety of alternative narratives.84 RENTS OVER RULE OF LAW The second major achievement of the enacting legislation of the CPNR is that it integrates victims of violence into the historic system of rent distribution, now based on identities associated with the violence of the 1990s. This occurred in two ways. First, the legislation redefined the nature of the ‘victim’ recognized by the state, to include relatives of those who had been forcibly disappeared by state actors. Second, the enabling legislation apportions quantities of rents to members of each victim group, but with the express prohibition of further legal action if payments are made.85 These payments now accompany the historical payments to mujahideen (war of independence veterans), established originally in 1976 and extended to cover families and dependents in 1991.86 The policy adopted works to coopt potentially antagonistic actors into the state apparatus, through the provision of rents based on membership in the famille revolutionnaire – now perhaps more appropriately understood as the famille rentiere.87 The political implications of this policy are profound. The new law coopts the voices of individuals attempting to contest the dominant narrative of ambiguity and misfortune by providing monetary payments in exchange for silence. This element of the CPNR significantly weakened the main activist group representing families of the disappeared, due to disagreement about whether to accept payments.88 In 2010, this group collaborated with relatives of victims of kidnapping by insurgents in the creation of an alternative charter (direct discourse contestation), in which they contest the impunity for both sets of perpetrators established by the enabling legislation of the CPNR.89 Interviewees indicated that former insurgents also receive payments from the government, indicating that this is a widespread policy applied in both a formal and informal manner.90 This means that currently the vast majority of major stakeholders in the conflict have been integrated into the rentier state in exchange for support of the new policy. DISCURSIVE HEGEMONY? Maarten Hajer proposes two criteria for determining the impact of discourse.91 First, are there identifiable impacts of the given discourse on the policy process? I have outlined the ways that the new discourse has allowed for the subversion of the previous policy of dealing with the violence. The legislation of the post-2005 period discursively encourages all to think about the past violence as misfortune caused by ambiguous forces, and therefore to forget that people were initially prosecuted and serving time for identifiable crimes. This shifts attention away from the reality of state complicity in the violence and has allowed the state to avoid prosecution of state actors and regain control and compliance as payer of rents, at the expense of the rule of the law. Second, Hajer asks whether key actors have demonstrated they are ‘persuaded by, or forced to accept, the rhetorical power of a new discourse.’92 The evidence for this second test is incomplete. Actors such as relatives of the disappeared have been divided on acceptance of the new discourse, and there have been outright rejections of the CPNR, for example through the alternative charter. However, at a national level, the population has not rejected the charter or its discursive logic, and even former insurgents are adopting the language of misfortune. This article has examined these questions through texts, as a window into the government’s logic since 1995. According to the findings presented here, President Bouteflika enacted a change in policy, supported by a discursive shift that occurred at the critical juncture of 2005. The discourse itself has required local actors to engage with it in a discursive struggle that so far the state has dominated. Multiple military generals and former soldiers have also attempted to contest the official narrative, to date in ways that have contributed mostly to conspiracy theorizing. Since the state has not needed to resort to force around these issues, it seems that it has been able to establish some level of discursive hegemony. THE CONSEQUENCES OF MISFORTUNE This article claims that language has political ramifications as certain discourses foster acceptance of a new reality among the general population and key political groups. This outcome is important for a number of reasons. First, the Algerian polity has historically struggled with the establishment of robust and legitimate institutions.93 The policy of national reconciliation has further weakened institutions such as the judiciary, which previously adjudicated between certain crimes. The policy reinvested that legitimacy into the rentier function of the state, further weakening the basis of governance and provision of economic benefits. This is a precarious situation for state legitimacy and is even more problematic given the extremely high dependence of the Algerian government on oil rents from external clients. The gangrene of the rentier system has been facilitated through transitional justice policies. Related to this is the clear conclusion that the CPNR has contributed to impunity, as it has allowed for the reintegration of formerly violent insurgents and state actors into social and political life. This theme was communicated to me repetitively throughout my interviews, and supported by findings from participant observation with human rights organizations in the two largest cities in the country.94 One legal expert explained the ‘psychological effects of the charter’ in this way: ‘it created a sense of impunity, and non-respect of the state and law, and authority in general…what is more, there were very public cases of individuals amnestied who subsequently joined’ insurgent groups that were linked to the killing of Harvé Gourdel (2014), indicating a direct link to recidivism.95 International human rights organizations have echoed the conclusion that the charter has resulted in widespread impunity, and the alternative charter created by local organizations in 2010 emphasizes this exact point.96 Second, the case of Algeria demonstrates that discourse is politically relevant in cases that are weakly ideological. Often associated with full-out propaganda and ideologically elaborate authoritarian regimes, discourse might be disregarded by scholars in cases that do not meet the threshold of dictatorship. Analysis of the language used by Bouteflika has indicated discourse can be meaningful and politically consequential, even without the extensive campaigns identified with totalitarian regimes. Third, discourse is clearly shown here as a way to subvert pressure to conform to international norms, such as individual criminal accountability for atrocities. Emphasis by the Algerian regime on the democratic approval of the CPNR through the referendum makes it difficult to advance claims for justice based on criminal responsibility. But the key point here is that the charter was the tool through which the misfortune framing was advanced and codified. The way people think about the violence of the past ultimately impacts how they can imagine dealing with it. Language that continues to emphasize misfortune over injustice makes forensic investigation, not to mention criminal prosecution, difficult to imagine in contemporary Algeria. This is surprising, given that prosecution (in some form) was being used during the final years of the conflict. Finally, discourse is relevant for transitional justice studies because it allows for the shaping of new political settlements through indirect methods that are not always readily apparent. The case of Algeria should draw our attention to the distinction between what is claimed as the policy goal, and the actual policy and consequences. Furthermore, legislation that limits or manages discourse contestation about violent past periods is present in a wide variety of transitional justice cases, such as Germany and Rwanda, and serves as a further indication that discourse deserves greater attention among scholars of transitional justice. Footnotes 1 Hugh Roberts, The Battlefield: Algeria 1988–2002 (London: Verso, 2003); Frédéric Volpi, ‘Algeria versus the Arab Spring,’ Journal of Democracy 24(3) (2013): 104–115. 2 See, Jacob Mundy, Imaginative Geographies of Algerian Violence: Conflict Science, Conflict Management, Antipolitics (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015). 3 Judith Shklar, The Faces of Injustice (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990). 4 I conducted 40 interviews between September 2014 and February 2015, with human rights activists, legal professionals and relatives of victims of human rights abuses. Specific dates of interviews have been withheld to protect the security of those interviewed. 5 This article is part of a larger project analyzing discourse in Algeria on the violence in the 1990s, based on additional Arabic language sources. 6 David Rear and Alan Jones, ‘Discursive Struggle and Contested Signifiers in the Arenas of Education Policy and Work Skills in Japan,’ Critical Policy Studies 7(4) (2013): 377. See also, Norman Fairclough, Discourse and Social Change (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992). 7 C. Candlin and Y. Maley, ‘Intertextuality and Interdiscursivity in the Discourse of Alternative Dispute Resolution,’ in The Construction of Professional Discourse, ed. B. Gunnarsson, P. Linell and B. Nordberg (London: Longman, 1997), 202. Cited in David Rear, ‘Laclau and Mouffe’s Discourse Theory and Fairclough’s Critical Discourse Analysis: An Introduction and Comparison,’ http://www.academia.edu/2912341/Laclau_and_Mouffe_s_Discourse_Theory_and_Faircloughs_Critical_Discourse_Analysis_An_Introduction_and_Comparison (accessed 26 March 2018), 13. 8 Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics (London: Verso, 1985), xi. 9 M. Hajer, City Politics: Hegemonic Projects and Discourse (Aldershot: Avebury, 1989), 47–48. 10 See the recently launched Memory Politics and Transitional Justice series by Palgrave. 11 Mahmood Mamdani, ‘Beyond Nuremberg: The Historical Significance of the Post-Apartheid Transition in South Africa,’ Politics and Society 43(1) (2015): 61–88; James A. Tyner, Gabriela Brindis Alvarez and Alex R. Colucci, ‘Memory and the Everyday Landscape of Violence in Post-Genocide Cambodia,’ Social and Cultural Geography 13(8) (2012): 853–871. 12 Francesca Lessa, Memory and Transitional Justice in Argentina and Uruguay: Against Impunity (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). 13 Lisa Wedeen, ‘Reflections on Ethnographic Work in Political Science,’ Annual Review of Political Science 13(1) (2010): 261. 14 Ibid. 15 Claire Sutherland, ‘Nation-Building through Discourse Theory,’ Nations and Nationalism 11(2) (2005): 187–188. See also, N. Fairclough, ‘Peripheral Vision: Discourse Analysis in Organization Studies: The Case for Critical Realism,’ Organization Studies 26(6) (2005): 915–939. 16 Pierre Bourdieu, Langage et pouvoir symbolique (Paris: Editions Fayard, 1991), 9. 17 Laurie A. Brand, Official Stories: Politics and National Narratives in Egypt and Algeria (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014). 18 Daniel Monk and Jacob Mundy, The Post-Conflict Environment: Investigation and Critique (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2014), 19. 19 Francesca Lessa, Memory and Transitional Justice in Argentina and Uruguay: Against Impunity (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). 20 Mamdani, supra n 11. 21 Isabelle Werenfels, ‘Obstacles to Privatisation of State-Owned Industries in Algeria: The Political Economy of a Distributive Conflict,’ Journal of North African Studies 7(1) (2002): 1–28. 22 Roberts, supra n 1; James D. le Sueur, Between Terror and Democracy: Algeria since 1989 (London: Zed Books, 2010). 23 Roberts, supra n 1; Luis Martinez, The Algerian Civil War, 1990–1998, trans. Jonathan Derrick (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000). 24 George Joffé, ‘National Reconciliation and General Amnesty in Algeria,’ Mediterranean Politics 13(2) (2008): 213–228. 25 Roberts, supra n 1; Martinez, supra n 23. 26 Stathis Kalyvas, ‘Wanton and Senseless? The Logic of Massacres in Algeria,’ Rationality and Society 11(3) (1999): 243–285; Human Rights Watch, ‘Algeria’s Human Rights Crisis,’ 1998, https://www.hrw.org/report/1998/08/01/algerias-human-rights-crisis; Human Rights Watch, ‘Algeria: Time for Reckoning: Enforced Disappearances in Algeria,’ 2003, https://www.hrw.org/reports/2003/algeria0203/ (both accessed 17 April 2017). 27 Joel Campagna, ‘Siege Mentality: Press Freedom and the Algerian Conflict,’ 1999, https://www.cpj.org/attacks98/1998/mideast/AlgeriaSR.html (accessed 17 April 2017). 28 Roberts, supra n 1. 29 Le Sueur, supra n 22. 30 Mundy, supra n 2. See also, Roberts, supra n 1. 31 Roberts, supra n 1. 32 Kalyvas, supra n 26; Youcef Bedjaoui, Abbas Aroua and Meziane Ait-Larbi, eds., An Inquiry into the Algerian Massacres (Geneva: Hoggar, 1999). 33 Steven A. Cook, Ruling but Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria and Turkey (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007). Although Bouteflika has shown signs of independence from the military, he also has run his course. 34 The Algerian regime relies heavily on the use of popular referendums to indicate the legitimacy of policies. 35 ‘Journal Officiel de la Republique Algerienne Democratique et Populaire,’ 2006, http://www.joradp.dz/FTP/jo-francais/2006/F2006011.pdf (accessed 22 April 2017). 36 See, Mundy, supra n 2; Kalyvas, supra n 26; Martinez, supra n 23. These interpretations are also contested. 37 Abdelaziz Testas, ‘The Economic Causes of Algeria’s Political Violence,’ Terrorism and Political Violence 13(3) (2001): 127–144; Abdelaziz Testas, ‘Political Repression, Democratization and Civil Conflict in Post-Independence Algeria,’ Democratization 9(4) (2002): 106–121; Habib Souaïdia, Le Procès de ‘La sale guerre’: Algérie, le Général-Major Khaled Nezzar Contre le Lieutenant Habib Souaïdia (Paris: La Découverte, 2002); Mohamed Smaïn, Relizane dans la tourmente: Silence! On Tue (St. Denis: Bouchène, 2004); Nesroulah Yous and Salima Mellah, Qui a Tué à Bentalha? Algérie: Chronique d’un Massacre Annoncé (Paris: La Découverte, 2000); Bedjaoui et al., supra n 32. 38 Ratiba Hadj-Moussa, ‘The Imaginary Concord and the Reality of Discord: Dealing with the Algerian Civil War,’ Arab World Geographer 7(3) (2004): 135–149. 39 US Institute of Peace, ‘Commission of Inquiry: Algeria,’ https://www.usip.org/publications/2003/09/commission-inquiry-algeria (accessed 25 March 2018). 40 ‘Journal Officiel de la Republique Algerienne, No. 11,’ 1995, https://ajouadmemoire.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/loi-rahma-1995.pdf (accessed 27 April 2017). 41 On the militias in the Algerian conflict, see, Salah-Eddine Sidhoum and Algeria Watch, Les Milices dans la nouvelle guerre d’Algérie (Berlin: Algeria Watch, 2003). 42 Hadj-Moussa, supra n 38. 43 ‘Journal Officiel de la Republique Algerienne, No. 11,’ supra n 40 at 9. 44 I depart from Hadj-Moussa, supra n 38, that these early laws obscured recognition of a criminal act in ways that the term ‘reconciliation’ would not. In light of the more recent legislation, the policies adopted from 1992 to 2004 resemble each other more than the policy of the post-2005 period, exactly because that policy went further toward obscuring wrongdoing despite using the term ‘reconciliation.’ 45 ‘ALGERIE interview de Abdelaziz Bouteflika (Air France, lutte anti-térrorsite),’ YouTube video, 7:22, 17 September 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXU0C7OxPRg (accessed 12 April 2017). All translations are the author’s. 46 Ibid. 47 ‘Memorandum on Reforms in Algeria,’ 2004, http://www.elmouradia.dz/francais/infos/actualite/archives/memorandum-reformes.htm (accessed 17 April 2017). 48 ‘La charte pour la paix et la réconciliation nationale,’ http://www.interieur.gov.dz/index.php/fr/dossiers/168-la-charte-pour-la-paix-et-la-reconciliation-nationale.html (accessed 14 July 2017). 49 Personal interviews, legal experts, Algiers, Algeria, October 2014. 50 Personal interview, human rights activist, Algiers, Algeria, November 2014. 51 Hadj-Moussa, supra n 38. 52 ‘Meeting de Constantine,’ 2005, http://www.elmouradia.dz/francais/infos/actualite/archives/Reconciliation/Villes/Constantine.htm (accessed 18 April 2017). 53 ‘Meeting d’Alger,’ 2005, http://www.elmouradia.dz/francais/infos/actualite/archives/Reconciliation/Villes/Alger.htm (accessed 27 April 2017). 54 ‘Meeting de Batna,’ 2005, http://www.elmouradia.dz/francais/infos/actualite/archives/Reconciliation/Villes/Batna.htm (accessed 25 April 2017). 55 Joffé, supra n 24. 56 Rafael Bustos, ‘The Algerian National Reconciliation Referendum of 2005,’ Mediterranean Politics 11(2) (2006): 121. 57 See, http://www.presidence.dz/francais/infos/actualite/archives/Reconciliation.htm (accessed 10 January 2018). 58 ‘Meeting d’Alger,’ supra n 53. 59 Humphrey J. Fisher, ‘Text-Centered Research: Fitna as a Case Study and a Way Forward for Guests in the House of African Historiography,’ Sudanic Africa 5 (1994): 231, citing Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, ed. J.M. Cowan (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1979). 60 Ami Ayalon, ‘From Fitna to Thawra,’ Studia Islamica 66 (1987): 150. 61 Ibid. 62 Fisher, supra n 59. 63 ‘Meeting d’Alger,’ supra n 53. 64 Charte Pour la Paix et la Reconciliation Nationale, chap. 6, arts. 44–46. 65 ‘Journal Officiel de la Republique Algerienne, No. 11,’ supra n 40 at 9. 66 ‘Journal Officiel de la Republique Algerienne Democratique et Populaire,’ supra n 35 at 2. This phrase is ubiquitous in government and journalistic accounts. See, e.g., ‘L’Etat ne laissera pas les personnes impliquées dans la tragédie nationale créer un parti politique,’ Liberté, 2 September 2015, https://www.liberte-algerie.com/actualite/letat-ne-laissera-pas-les-personnes-impliquees-dans-la-tragedie-nationale-creer-un-parti-politique-232093 (accessed 7 April 2018). 67 BBC Monitoring Middle East, ‘Algerian President to Introduce Measures to Strengthen National Reconciliation,’ 2014, http://0-ww.lexisnexis.com.catalog.sewanee.edu/lnacui2api/results/docview/docview.do?docLinkInd=true&risb=21_T26965948963&format=GNBFI&sort=RELEVANCE&startDocNo=1&resultsUrlKey=29_T26965948957&cisb=22_T26965948966&treeMax=true&treeWidth=0&csi=10962&docNo=22 (accessed 11 January 2018). 68 ‘Journal Officiel de la Republique Algerienne Democratique et Populaire,’ supra n 35 at 3. 69 Ibid., 5. 70 Ibid. 71 Abdel Aziz Bouteflika, ‘Le texte intégral du discours du président Bouteflika,’ 2011, https://www.facebook.com/notes/envoy%C3%A9s-sp%C3%A9ciaux-alg%C3%A9riens/le-texte-int%C3%A9gral-du-discours-du-pr%C3%A9sident-bouteflika/214024315277108/ (accessed 27 April 2017). 72 This is referencing the Qur’an, chap. ii, verses 191, 193, 217. 73 Bouteflika, supra n 71. 74 ‘Who Runs Algeria? Many Doubt It’s Ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika,’ New York Times, 23 December 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/24/world/africa/suspicions-mount-that-ailing-president-abdelaziz-bouteflika-is-no-longer-running-algeria.html?_r=0 (accessed 10 January 2018). 75 ‘President Bouteflika Reiterates Appeal to Misguided Individuals to Benefit from Provisions of Peace and Reconciliation Charter,’ Algeria Press Service, 28 September 2015, http://0-ww.lexisnexis.com.catalog.sewanee.edu/lnacui2api/results/docview/docview.do?docLinkInd=true&risb=21_T26965948963&format=GNBFI&sort=RELEVANCE&startDocNo=26&resultsUrlKey=29_T26965948957&cisb=22_T26965948966&treeMax=true&treeWidth=0&csi=363095&docNo=32 (accessed 10 December 2017). 76 Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, ed. and trans. Quentin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith (New York: International Publishers, 1971). 77 This includes actors in the military, gendarmerie and a variety of militias. See, US Institute of Peace, supra n 39; Amnesty International, ‘Algeria: A Legacy of Impunity: A Threat to Algeria’s Future,’ 2009, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde28/001/2009/en/ (accessed 23 April 2017); Collectif des Familles de Disparus en Algérie, ‘Les disparitions forcées en Algérie: un crime contre l’humanité 1990–2000,’ 2015, http://www.algerie-disparus.org/app/uploads/2016/03/CFDA-RAPPORT-digital2.pdf (accessed 27 April 2017). 78 US Institute of Peace, supra n 39. 79 I am not implying that the implementation of the laws pre-2005 was fully effective, nor that they represented a better form of justice (see, Hadj-Moussa, supra n 38, on this point). Rather, they incorporated institutions and recognized political realities of the conflict that were jettisoned in the CPNR. 80 ‘Journal Officiel de la Republique Algerienne Democratique et Populaire,’ supra n 35 at chap. 6, art. 46. 81 Personal interviews, human rights activists and legal professionals, Algiers, Algeria, November 2014. 82 Souaïdia, supra n 37; Mohammed Samraoui, Chronique des Années de Sang. Algérie: Comment les Services Secrets ont Manipulé les Groupes Islamistes (Paris: Denoël, 2003); Abdelkader Tigha and Philippe Lobjois, Contre-Espionnage Algérien: Notre Guerre Contre les Islamistes (Paris: Nouveau Monde, 2008). 83 ‘Algérie: l’ex-patron des services secrets rompt le silence,’ Le Figaro, 2015, http://www.lefigaro.fr/international/2015/12/04/01003-20151204ARTFIG00425-algerie-l-ex-patron-des-services-secrets-rompt-le-silence.php; ‘Algérie: les militaires à la retraite contraints au silence,’ Jeune Afrique, 2016, http://www.jeuneafrique.com/mag/338612/politique/algerie-militaires-a-retraite-contraints-silence/ (both accessed 20 April 2017). 84 Mohammed Samraoui, Chronique des Annees de Sang: Algerie, comment les services secrets ont manipule les groupes islamistes (France: Denoel, 2003). See, in response, Khaled Nezzar, Algérie: echec à une régression programmée (Paris: Publisud, 2001). 85 ‘Journal Officiel de la Republique Algerienne Democratique et Populaire,’ supra n 35. 86 Brand, supra n 17. 87 Isabelle Werenfels, Managing Instability in Algeria: Elites and Political Change since 1995 (Abingdon: Routledge, 2009). 88 Personal interview, human rights activist, Algiers, Algeria, October 2014. 89 Coalition of Associations of Victims of Terrorism and Enforced Disappearances, ‘Charter for Truth, Peace and Justice,’ 2011, http://www.algerie-disparus.org/app/uploads/2016/02/Charte-alternative-Anglais.pdf (accessed 14 March 2018). 90 Personal interview, legal expert, Algiers, Algeria, October 2015. See also, Mundy, supra n 2. 91 Hajer, supra n 9. 92 Ibid., 47–48 (emphasis added). 93 Hugh Roberts, ‘The Struggle for Constitutional Rule in Algeria,’ in Roberts, supra n 1. 94 Personal interviews and participant observation, human rights activists and legal professionals, Oran, Algeria, 2014 and Algiers, Algeria, March 2015. See also, Mundy, supra n 2. 95 Personal interview, legal professional, Algiers, Algeria, October 2014. Harvé Gourdel was kidnapped and beheaded by an Islamist insurgent organization (Jund al Khalifah) outside Algiers in September 2014. 96 Amnesty International, ‘Algeria – Impunity Past and Present: Amnesty International Submission for the UN Universal Periodic Review – 27th Session of the UPR Working Group,’ 2017, http://www.refworld.org/docid/5878f2a04.html (accessed 12 January 2018); Coalition of Associations of Victims of Terrorism and Enforced Disappearances, supra n 89. © The Author(s) (2018). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Transitional Justice Oxford University Press

Misfortune or Injustice? The Political Work of Postconflict Narrative in Contemporary Algeria

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Abstract

ABSTRACT∞ The Algerian regime has used a variety of stories to explain and refer to the conflict that occurred in the 1990s. This article explores these major narratives which were employed in regime discourse between 1996 and 2015. The article highlights the strategic use of language shifts between narratives identifying the violence as either ‘misfortune’ or as ‘injustice.’ The research presented here draws on analysis of a variety of primary source documents (government statements, official speeches at the domestic and international levels), in connection with fieldwork carried out by the author. The article highlights the dynamics associated with the two narratives, asking specifically what political work is being accomplished through the strategic use of regime narrative. INTRODUCTION The language used by governments can be a useful heuristic for understanding the broader policy goals and interests of otherwise opaque regimes. Studying the discourses employed by regimes can shed light on the political consequences of changes in policy that are otherwise obscured. Contemporary Algeria provides a particularly fruitful case for this type of analysis, as policy decisions are difficult to track and major events occur mostly behind the screen of the civilian–military alliance. After two decades of authoritarian Arab socialism, the civilian government attempted to liberalize the economy in the face of rising oil prices, leading to widespread protests at the end of 1988. Algeria experienced its own ‘Arab uprising’ two decades early.1 However, after a brief and halted democratic opening, the country descended into what is commonly called a ‘civil war’ by regional experts, or ‘the period of terrorism’ by locals.2 The violence lasted until the early 2000s. Ruled since that time by an ambiguous alliance between the military and the civilian government, Algerians have become accustomed to identifying Abdelaziz Bouteflika – president since 1999 – with the establishment. During this time, Algerians have experienced a series of postconflict policies dealing with the violent legacy of the 1990s. This article examines the discourses employed through and in support of these policies, with particular attention to the change enacted in 2005 through the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation (CPNR). The article demonstrates the discursive shift that the CPNR ushered in – one depicting the violence as misfortune rather than injustice – and the political work done by this change in narrative.3 First, I outline the methods I used to study this political context through discourse. I include a brief discussion of my approach to discourse. I then explain why the politics of memory regarding past violence is well suited for discourse analysis. Next, I provide a succinct summary of the events that characterized Algeria’s recent past, including a discussion of the postconflict legislation. The second half of the article examines the critical juncture of 2005 and the discursive distinctions that have characterized politics since that time. The article closes with a discussion about the work that is accomplished through the adoption of this discourse, its political consequences, and some conjectures about why the shift in narrative occurred when it did. I discuss whether we can understand this new discourse as hegemonic within Algeria today, and the insights gained from this analysis for the field of transitional justice. METHODOLOGICAL PROCESS AND PERSPECTIVE This article draws on two types of data. First, I examined the language used in primary source documents exemplifying the regime’s discourse about the violence of the 1990s, and the solutions adopted to deal with it. These documents include three major pieces of legislation and their accompanying memorandums, multiple interviews and 11 public speeches given by President Bouteflika – the indisputable architect of the postconflict period. I also completed a review of public statements by Bouteflika in the post-Arab uprisings period. Additionally, I carried out interviews and participant observation in Algeria between 2014 and 2015, with civil society actors in the human rights sector.4 For each of these texts, I used the qualitative data analysis tool Nvivo to code keywords and phrases that demonstrate discursive logic. I read through and analyzed each text as a whole and in relation to the other texts within the set. The texts are for the most part in French, although occasionally Algerian dialect was used.5 Finally, I carefully read the secondary literature on Algeria’s violence. This combination of sources allowed me to analyze the discourse presented by Bouteflika within the context of contemporary events in Algeria. Discourse can be understood as ‘a particular way of representing certain…aspects of the world, whether physical, social, or psychological.’6 However, it also has a constitutive element, and is a ‘way of talking about and acting upon the world which both constructs and is constructed by a set of social practices.’7 In their elaboration of discursive analysis, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe identify ‘nodal points’ as ‘particular element[s] assuming a “universal” structuring function within a certain discursive field’ – a field such as discourse about the past.8 Nodal points (such as ‘victim’) serve to anchor or organize discourse into logical wholes. The definitions attributed to these nodal points change through discursive shifts. Social actors employ discourses (intentionally and unintentionally) as a means of facilitating political dominance. Discourse is meaningful if it is possible to establish some form of hegemony over individuals’ conception of their political context, and therefore impact how they act within it. Through this study of discourse, I ask two main questions to determine whether discursive hegemony has been achieved: Are key actors demonstrating that they are ‘persuaded by, or forced to accept, the rhetorical power of the new discourse?’ and do ‘we see impacts of the given discourse on the policy process?’9 If so, what work is accomplished by this discourse and how is it politically relevant for understanding Algeria and other transitional justice cases? THE POLITICS OF MEMORY IN POSTCONFLICT CASES Historical memory studies and transitional justice scholarship have recently begun to cross-pollinate.10 Their combination reveals how dominant narratives (which define memory accounts) come to be hegemonic in periods after conflict. Collective memory of violent periods is malleable and constructed in nature.11 There are elements of the story that are contested, emphasize varying themes and lessons, and some that are officially erased. The process of revealing and obscuring aspects of the dominant memory story often results from actions and preferences of particular groups. It is not always possible to distinguish whether these reinterpretations occur simply by default or through intentional discursive changes introduced by actors to legitimize particular renderings of the past. Francesca Lessa highlights critical junctures as turning points for narrative transformation in her study of Argentina and Uruguay.12 The narratives themselves impact the choice of transitional justice mechanisms and can lead to full-scale reorientation of policies concerning the past. I adopt a similar perspective here by dividing the historical timeframe since Algeria’s violence into two distinct time periods of analysis: 1996–2004 and 2005–2015. POLITICS OF DISCOURSE A society’s relationship with the past (and its very definition) is contingent upon the contemporary power play. State actors attempt to establish a modicum of consensus to facilitate social and political advancement (toward peace or stability). Divergence between versions of the past can serve as a window into the balance of power and contemporary political struggle. Discourse is a symbolic system that can be analyzed in terms of the political work ‘accomplished through it’ as it produces meaning.13 Here, I analyze regime discourse as accomplishing two things: first, as ‘representing political phenomena’ – the hegemonic interpretation of the past by the current government; and second, I analyze discourse as ‘generating [particular] political consequences,’ meaning I show a relationship between the discourse adopted by elite actors and the political dynamics of the postconflict environment.14 I understand discourse as ‘a wide-ranging body of ideas, concepts and institutions’ that can work to enact and maintain the power (political) dynamics of the status quo.15 I analyze specific instances of language used by Bouteflika to study the larger consequences of the discourse embedded in it. In short, a focus on discourse is based in an epistemological perspective that ‘linguistic interaction’ reproduces the ‘social structure’ and therefore the study of discourse allows one to identify dynamics of power relations that otherwise would remain invisible.16 Discourse analysis is skeptical of truth claims and recognizes the relationship between language and power. Therefore, it is an excellent tool for study of the work accomplished by competing versions of the past. The Algerian regime has historically employed specific discourses to bolster the legitimacy of the ruling elite and foster regime stability.17 Just as national histories are known to often be constructed post facto, ‘Images of the post-conflict present become the window through which the conflictual past is imaginatively constructed’ through discourse.18 The truth of what happened is not central here, but rather what these new understandings can accomplish when they are widespread. Through examination of the cases of Argentina and Uruguay, Lessa highlights changes over time that impact the definition of nodal points such as ‘perpetrator’ and ‘victim.’19 Mahmood Mamdani’s work analyzing the political foundations of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Nuremberg trials highlights these, while also emphasizing the ‘nature of the violence’ from the conflict period.20 As will be shown, the nodal points of ‘victim,’ ‘perpetrator’ and ‘nature of the violence’ are also essential for understanding shifts in Algerian discourse about the past. ALGERIA’S VIOLENCE The Algerian military has been the most constant political actor since independence. However, in the early 1990s, Algeria briefly experienced multiparty democratic competition. This opening was possible because the state-directed economic management of the previous two decades failed to meet the needs of the population as the economy shifted with falling oil prices and the increasing weight of the inefficient patronage system. The regime had adopted uneven liberalization in the 1980s. This impacted the population, accustomed to a strong welfare state that historically provided aid in a variety of domains. The rentier mentality was strong.21 The state’s extensive system of payouts to the mujahideen (veterans of the war of independence and their family members) added ideological and historic legitimacy to the system of rents. The market destabilization caused by falling oil prices led to protests throughout the major urban centers of Algeria in 1988. The government (dealing with internal strain between the military and civilian leadership pushing economic reforms) initially stalled, and then lashed out. Approximately 500 civilians were killed when the military used live ammunition on protestors in early October of that year. The event was catastrophic for the regime. The government proposed a new constitution (1989), allowing for the creation of political parties (and multiparty elections) for the first time.22 Dozens of parties were created, vying for local and regional elections. Unexpectedly, a new Islamist party, the Islamic Salvation Front (Front Islamique du Salut, or FIS), gained 54.25 percent of votes in municipal elections in June 1990. It seemed poised to take a majority in the second round of parliamentary elections, to be held in January 1992. Members of the military, secular civil society and the incumbent National Liberation Front (Front de Libération Nationale) were collectively unprepared for the rise of the FIS, and various actors called for the annulment of the electoral process. In June 1991, parliamentary elections were postponed and the government stepped down. The military created a High State Committee (HSC) to maintain order through a state of emergency.23 Thousands of local-level party members and candidates of the FIS were sent to prison camps in the Sahara.24 This removed the leadership and local actors who had been participating in the electoral process on the side of the FIS – essentially those Islamists who had opted for electoral participation. The context quickly militarized, with acts of violence attributed to both the military and Islamists who had taken up arms against the state. A fractured insurgency developed, split between a handful of groups attacking the military and state apparatus.25 From mid-1992 to the early 2000s, everyday life was uncertain and brutal for residents of Algiers and its environs, with assassinations, bombings, civilian massacres and military control of transportation routes throughout the country.26 Violence was used by both sides, including the use of torture, enforced disappearance and executions of locals and foreigners.27 In 1994, the HSC appointed Liamine Zeroual as president. He was officially elected the following year. He twice attempted negotiations for a peaceful settlement and withdrawal of the military from politics. Both attempts failed.28 Then peace negotiations were initiated in collaboration with the Sant’Egidio religious community of Italy in 1994/1995.29 All important political actors participated but the peace negotiations were rejected by the military establishment (which was in secret negotiations with the FIS and its armed wing, the Islamic Salvation Army) as a breach of sovereignty.30 Starting in 1996, the regime (led officially by Zeroual but managed by the military) proposed a series of institution-building measures. Between 1995 and 1997, elections were held for president; the constitution was revised, introducing a second parliamentary chamber; and the upper house, the regional assemblies and the communal assemblies were elected.31 Additionally, Zeroual introduced the first legislation aimed at ending the conflict, known as the Law of Clemency (rahma). Throughout, he attempted to convince insurgents to defect by offering clemency to those who had committed only petty infractions (discussed in more detail below). But the highest number of civilian causalities occurred during civilian massacres in the summers of 1996, 1997 and 1998.32 Finally, in 1999, when the insurgency was weakened, the military proposed the presidential candidacy of Bouteflika, calling formally for civilian rule. Bouteflika was celebrated as a real democratic candidate, but the charade was obvious when the remaining four candidates withdrew the night before the elections. The military was still sole governor.33 Bouteflika’s arrival coincided with a general reduction in violence and a policy shift that solidified through his second presidential mandate (2005–2009) and continued through his fourth (starting in 2014). In 1999, the government issued the second law of note – the Law of Civil Concord, which proposed amnesty and social reintegration of certain insurgents willing to return arms and reenter civilian life. The policy was passed through national referendum.34 The enacting legislation stipulated that individuals responsible for rape or massacres were exempt from amnesty. Until 1999, insurgents that had been caught, or those accused of participation in assassinations or terrorist activities, were often tried, imprisoned and sometimes executed. The military’s heavy-handed tactics dominated the period but were integrated into the framework that nonetheless incorporated the judicial and penal system for the most egregious crimes. After 2005, this changed with the CPNR.35 Through these three laws, the civilian government progressively reoriented the policy of the state used to deal with the violence of the 1990s. It transitioned away from the judicial and penal logic, which took into account the political nature of the conflict in the previous decade, and moved toward a purely economic logic. Instead of recognizing that crimes (injustice) were committed that were clearly punishable through the legal system, the new policy framed the violence as misfortune, to be dealt with through compensation from the state. The regime opted for an economic apolitical approach. This ultimately obscured the agency of perpetrators of violence on all sides. MISFORTUNE Although conflict studies specialists have generally concluded that the violence in Algeria was a civil war with an Islamist insurgency, this is not the only understanding of the conflict. Nor was it dominant before 11 September 2001, after which a more complete global consensus emerged on an organic connection between terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism.36 Other theses contend that the conflict was based on economic grievances, attempts by intelligence and security agencies to infiltrate the insurgency, or individual-level dynamics (territorial rivalries, historical grievances or local electoral dynamics).37 This disagreement amongst scholars is a strong indication that multiple narratives reign. Post-2005, the regime adopted an official policy of ambiguity regarding culpability for violent acts during the 1990s. This new discourse frames violence of all types in terms of misfortune, rather than injustice. By emphasizing the nature of events during the ‘dark decade’ (la décennie noire or al-‘ashriyya al-sawda,’ a term used habitually by government officials) as misfortune, the regime justifies its policy of blanket amnesty, obscuring the agency (and therefore responsibility) of violent actors. What was defined as injustice in the 1995–2004 period was dealt with through punishment according to the severity of the crime. Although some individuals were extended amnesty even from the early days of the conflict in an (ineffective) policy to demilitarize insurgents,38 the defining characteristic of pre-2005 policies was the distinction between types of crimes that could and could not be amnestied. In contrast, misfortune describes uncontrollable, naturally occurring events, worthy of charity. As will be shown, by framing the conflict in terms of misfortune since 2005, the government has justified a solution focused on integration of citizens into the longstanding economic system of rents paid by the state. The implications of this policy are profound. First, they shape understandings of what caused the conflict, implying ambiguous, uncontrollable forces rather than identifiable choices by actors still present. Second, the consequence is the breakdown of the rule of law and emphasis on a purely economic (as opposed to penal or political) aspect of the government. The government’s role as benefactor overshadows its role as arbiter of justice, guarantor of rights or creator of public policy options. POLICY INITIATIVES BEFORE 2005 During the conflict (1992–2000), the government prosecuted and imprisoned insurgents. Additionally, in 2001 the government partially investigated allegations of violence perpetrated by state actors.39 However, in 2005/2006 the government enacted the CPNR – a blanket amnesty law covering all belligerents (including state actors) – and released from jail thousands of insurgents. The policy brought a distinct change from those enacted until 2004 in which the state employed traditional tools of criminal justice in postconflict contexts: confession of belligerents for reduced sentences, reintegration of insurgents with the exception of those who had carried out violent acts, and jail sentences or execution for the worst offenders (guilty of murder, massacres or use of explosives). The laws passed before 2004 (1995 Law of Clemency/Rahma and the 1999 Law of Civil Concord) recognized that certain individuals and groups had carried out political violence, and that rule of law required the state to punish these acts, while other individuals who had participated in less violent ways were allowed to reintegrate into society after informing the authorities of their activities.40 The state differentiated between the types of violations and responded accordingly. The policy recognized that the state must adjudicate between levels of crimes. The CPNR diverted attention away from the culpability of all types of belligerents (state, militia41 and insurgents) toward a policy of ambiguity. The regime narrative allowed for a reinterpretation of the conflict and solution in terms of solely economic issues, at the expense of the examination of issues such as impunity, political grievances, ideological disagreements and the rule of law. Bouteflika has played a foundational role in the establishment of this policy and is universally understood to be the face of the regime, if not always the sole driving actor. For this reason, a focus on the discourse used by him is warranted. By analyzing presidential discourse from 1996 to 2015, this article documents the political work accomplished since the shift in 2005. DISCURSIVE SHIFTS Three major policy documents have governed the regime’s attempts to manage the violent period. They serve as a window into the developing logic adopted by government actors. In a series of laws between 1992 and 1995, the government established a policy of leniency (qanoun ar-rahma). Referred to by the government as La Loi de Clémence, that translation from the Arabic inserts a notion of ‘pardon’ which is not in the original Arabic term rahma. Rather, rahma refers to the concept of a conquering power forgoing punishment or vengeance.42 This law itself outlined the process for legally attenuating the criminal proceedings for insurgents that gave up their arms, and permissible punishments for those individuals who had participated in ‘terrorist or subversive crimes,’ all the while excluding from rahma those who had committed the most egregious acts.43 The law took into consideration the political dynamics of the conflict, recognizing various levels and types of crimes worthy of distinct responses by the government.44 Second, in 1999 the government passed the Loi de la Concorde Civile (al-wi’am al-madani), or the Civil Concord Law. This law further institutionalized the rahma policy, outlining the particular cases in which the government would allow former insurgents to reenter civilian life (through reduction or removal of prison sentences). Both laws established a trade-off between the two parties. Those willing to admit to crimes, return arms to the state and provide information about their previous activities were allowed to return to civilian life. The major exception to this, outlined clearly in both laws, was individuals who had participated in the most extreme crimes. In the original iteration (1996), insurgents who had killed, maimed, damaged public property or used explosives were not allowed to benefit from the law. The 1999 Law of Civil Concord added to this barred group individuals who were guilty of rape. Both laws adhered to the logic of functioning judicial institutions and seem to have been carried out in this way since prison sentences were enacted for some insurgents. Additionally, Bouteflika’s initial public statements clearly demonstrated his rejection of measures that would undermine the rule of law. He characterized the violence of the 1990s as carried out by identifiable actors who had participated in clearly defined crimes. For example, in an interview with a reporter in 1999, Bouteflika explained: There is a very large part of the violence in Algeria that arises only from delinquency and criminality, which has absolutely no ideological foundation…there is [also] a part of the violence that might have a small ideological foundation…it is completely clear that I cannot go beyond [what] the Civil Concorde law [proscribes]… I was mandated by the people, and I will not betray the people to follow the will of x or y. Now, it is the state that must impose the law, with all its rigor.45Bouteflika identifies the violence as carried out by particular individuals, for particular criminally culpable reasons, and claims that the state has an obligation to respond with the rule of law. Later in the interview he states: I am in a situation where the constitution does not permit me to pass an amnesty. I can pronounce pardons, but I do not do amnesty. Amnesty comes from the parliament. Second, I do not have the intention of asking the parliament for this…it is completely clear that I will not ask the Algerian people to go [unclear audio] before these people who…rather, are not transparent, nor are they completely innocent [literally ‘white as snow’].46Bouteflika contends that a general amnesty would be inappropriate for Algeria because the people who committed the above-mentioned crimes are criminally culpable, and he could not ask the general population to overlook their actions. Here his language directly supports the rule of law and criminal responsibility and recognizes the institutional legitimacy of parliament. In early 2004, Bouteflika again outlined the six objectives toward the goal of ‘national revival’ – the first of which is ‘justice reform,’ meant to confirm the importance of the ‘rule of law.’47 THE CRITICAL JUNCTURE OF 2005 In 2005, the president began campaigning for a third law on the past violence, the CPNR. It passed by referendum after an intense period of campaigning by the president.48 The new legislation marked a turning point and, after 2005, the regime adopted a policy of progressive ambiguity concerning conceptions of ‘victim,’ ‘perpetrator’ and the ‘nature of the actual violence.’ Although the CPNR itself also distinguished the same categories of crimes that would be ineligible for amnesty, according to interviews carried out by the author, the application of the policy did not make a distinction between those who did and did not commit rape, massacres or use explosive materials. In discussions with the author, multiple legal experts claimed that after 2005 there were no documented cases of individuals being exempt from the amnesty law.49 In other words, most if not all insurgents willingly returning arms under the government’s new law were allowed to reenter society, including some who were previously broadcast on national television discussing their participation in the murder of Algerian soldiers.50 If in word the CPNR differentiated between crimes, in reality its adoption meant amnesty for all crimes. The discursive shift to misfortune indicates that this was intentional. The referendum laid the foundations for the discursive changes. The vote concerned support for the president’s proposal for the CPNR, without explanation of the actual proposal. Rather, the president gave a series of regional speeches in the 10 most populous urban centers, outlining in broad (and contradictory) terms his vision for peace and reconciliation. Algeria has a history of national referendums used essentially as a vote of confidence for a proposed, but undescribed, policy.51 In 2005, this allowed for a major reorientation of policy, while using a discourse (in the regional speeches) that implied continuity with the past policy. For example, in Constantine, President Bouteflika extolled, ‘if you are convinced, vote yes, and if your hearts are still full of hatred and if you are not those who pardon, vote no…you are free. This is a democracy.’52 In Algiers, he explained, ‘I have come to ask permission to vote “yes” for national reconciliation.’53 Throughout the campaign, voters were consistently asked to vote ‘yes’ ‘for national reconciliation’ and ‘peace’ although with no explanation of implementation. At the same time, Bouteflika reassured his audiences that the new charter would require that ‘persons who are implicated in crimes [of terrorism or subversion] will be brought before the courts.’54 Audience members were told the rule of law remained. Before the referendum, there was only suppressed discussion by the opposition (secular, Islamist and civil society).55 The ballots read: ‘Are you for or against the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation project that the government has proposed?’56 Individuals registered their vote by placing one of two cards into an envelope (‘yes’ or ‘no’). Citizens who went to the polls in late September 2005 voted ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to peace, not knowing how it would be achieved. Officially, 97.36 percent of voters supported the referendum.57 The organization of the referendum (with intentional lack of detail) allowed for a change in policy that was not at first apparent. The president campaigned on an idea that few were likely to reject. After approximately a decade of civil war, the majority of the population sought peace. Verbal promises to respect the rule of law and the rejection of a general amnesty were given in campaign speeches, but no documentation of policy proposals existed until the referendum had been passed. The referendum speeches also demonstrated how the regime would now characterize the violence of the 1990s. The discourse obscured the agency of perpetrators and confounded categories of victims (e.g., those of state abuses, as opposed to those attacked by insurgents). For example, in his speech in Algiers comparing the recent decade of violence to the war of independence against the French, Bouteflika claimed the past decade was ‘more difficult than the war of national liberation’ since ‘our enemy was [earlier] identified…the foreign colonizer. In contrast, during the years of terrorism, brothers killed each other. It was fitna.’58 Two points are in order. First, until 2004, the government identified perpetrators and made distinctions between those who had committed various levels of crimes. Individuals were tried and condemned to varying lengths of jail time. In contrast, here, the president argues that since everyone was Algerian, this distinction cannot be made. Second, the characterization of the period of violence as fitna is revealing. The term’s significance originates from the founding Muslim community. The Arabic root F-T-N denotes ‘temptation, trial…enticement…sedition, riot, discord, dissension [or] civil strife.’59 It came to be associated with the disagreement over the rule of the Muslim community that resulted in the Sunni–Shia split, later to be known as ‘the great Fitna.’60 In the modern era it has been used habitually by Arabic writers to identify and strongly condemn revolutionary movements that disintegrate authority and social order.61 The use of the term implies that the violence was the result of pernicious political activity by elements of the religious community.62 But its use also muddles attribution of responsibility and implies an ideological significance to the period of violence, further distancing it from the reality of specific crimes committed. These excerpts demonstrate a trend throughout all 10 referendum speeches. The use of allegorical language also helped to establish the idea that the violence was an uncontrollable event. For example, Bouteflika regularly discusses violence (or terrorism) as an illness. He defended the 2005 referendum in these words: ‘after the first “vaccination” of the civil harmony law, in 2000, the project for the charter [CPNR] is “the booster shot” for the return of peace in Algeria.’ The official version of the speech explains that in this way he was ‘identifying himself as a “doctor” who wants to heal the sickness of violence.’63 By adopting language that compares violence to a sickness that must be cured, the discourse obscures reality. Violence was committed for particular political reasons, and until recently was dealt with through the justice system. CODIFICATION OF CHANGE THROUGH IMPLEMENTING LEGISLATION The passage of the referendum allowed for the regime to officially integrate this new policy and discourse. After the referendum the enabling legislation for the CPNR obscured agency. This was done explicitly by the addition of a blanket amnesty for all acts carried out by agents of the state (police, military and state armed militias).64 The agency of perpetrators was also obscured indirectly through the language used in the implementing legislation. An analysis of the discourse used in the three legislative acts (1995, 1999 and 2006) clearly demonstrates this change. Throughout the two earlier documents there are multiple references to the conflict as injustice and to the rule of law. For example, the pre-2005 documents both refer to distinctions between crimes committed (and particular criminal penalties associated with them). The period of violence itself is referred to as the ‘transitional period’ and ‘crimes of terrorism and subversion’ are clearly mentioned.65 For example, in the Civil Concord Law (1999), the period itself is not defined, but detail is provided for an orderly reduction of sentences according to the crimes committed, again barring clemency for the most egregious acts. This is the logic of the rule of law. In neither document are there any characterizations of the period of violence in terms of misfortune and allegorical language is absent. In contrast, the enabling legislation passed after the referendum for the CPNR (in 2006) introduced a number of important discursive elements. For the first time in a legislative document, the period of violence is called ‘the national tragedy.’66 This is a recurring phrase, used widely by government actors and within the public. The term is even used publicly by the former head of the armed wing of the FIS, Madani Mezrag.67 It indicates in and of itself the widespread acceptance of a framing of misfortune as if the entire period of violence was an unexpected, uncontrollable event. Instead of talking about political actions taken (terrorism, subversion, economic or social policies), the legislation refers to the entire decade of political violence as a ‘national tragedy,’ implying a lack of determinable agency of perpetrators, and universal victimhood among the entire population. The legislation includes titles such as ‘implementation of measures meant to establish peace.’68 This language is vague. A more accurate title would be ‘implementation of amnesty for crimes committed’ or ‘crimes of terrorism and subversion,’ as had been stated previously. Rather, this euphemistic language demonstrates a shift away from criminal responsibility. Further on a title appears as ‘measures for the benefit of persons let go through administrative procedures for facts related to the national tragedy.’69 This amounts to verbal acrobatics, apparently to avoid stating that the law addresses individuals guilty of crimes. This conflicts with the previous language which identified crimes (injustices) in the legislation, and the previous policy of treating levels of crimes in distinct ways. The CPNR does use the term ‘terrorism,’ referring to ‘those who participated in terrorist actions.’70 Therefore, it does not completely erase the former emphasis on crimes committed. However, the use of language that obscures agency and highlights misfortune is quantitatively almost two times as likely to occur in that document, in comparison to language associated with the injustice framing. Emphasis on misfortune (replacing reference to injustice) is also visible in speeches given by the president since 2005. For example, in a speech given to the General Union of Algerian Workers in 2006, the president was two times more likely to refer to the period of violence in terms of misfortune than through language recognizing injustice. In 2011, responding to the protests in the region, Bouteflika referred to the violence of the 1990s as a time in which the population had struggled to release itself ‘from the grip of ignorance’ – a vague formulation given the death toll of approximately 100,000. He explained that ‘the major national stakes were…to put out the fire of fitna, to work for the re-establishment of peace and harmony and to consecrate the national reconciliation.’71 Then: Fitna is more serious than murder72 and it is for the price of blood and tears that Algeria has remained unified and strong, that the Republic and its democratic attainments are preserved and that hope is once again possible.73This characterization defies logic given the consensus of international and domestic actors just a decade before: the nature of the violence as an internal conflict among Algerians (of one stripe or another) was never questioned by any significant internal or external actors. The carnage was inflicted by Algerians, against Algerians, begging the question of how the population was itself unified during that period of time. His language focuses on collective suffering, as opposed to the individual suffering of particular victims of the violence. Through the concept of fitna, Bouteflika differentiates between murder (which was occurring on a daily basis, to extraordinary and banalizing proportions) and imbalance or chaos, the responsibility of which cannot be attributed to any one actor. If Bouteflika was the central civilian actor shaping the policy change in 2005/2006, it has since become apparent that he no longer holds this position. Changes to the constitution were made allowing him to run for third and fourth presidential terms. After an extended hospital stay in France (2013), it is common knowledge that he is very ill.74 He rarely makes public appearances, and often appears almost paralyzed when he does. This has meant fewer public statements. However, news reports indicate that Bouteflika has continued to use some of the same language. For example, in 2015, on the anniversary of the adoption of the CPNR, Bouteflika was quoted in local news as speaking about ‘the madness during the National Tragedy,’ saying, I seize this opportunity to reiterate the call of this lenient country to the misguided individuals to reconsider and abandon the path of crime to benefit from the provisions of the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation.75Although a mix of discourses is demonstrated in this quote, he uses language that downplays the criminal acts mentioned (since they were carried out by individuals who were simply misguided), exhorting adherence to the logic of the CPNR. WHY 2005? EXPLAINING THE SHIFT TOWARDS MISFORTUNE According to Antonio Gramsci, hegemony allows for maintaining social consensus without recourse to violence.76 Discursive shifts are significant to the extent that the regime can accomplish through them what it would otherwise need physical force to enact. Therefore, the consequences of the story being told by the regime since 2005 are important. But why did the shift occur in 2005? In 2003, Bouteflika also established a national commission to investigate and report on the alleged enforced disappearances of up to 10,000 Algerians by state forces.77 Initially, the government announced it would make the findings of the commission public. The commission reported to the president in a private meeting on 31 March 2005, but never disclosed its full conclusions to families or the wider population.78 This occurred six months before the referendum on the CPNR and four months before any of the referendum speeches, making the revelations regarding the extent of state actors’ responsibility for enforced disappearances a plausible motivating factor for the shift in discourse and policy. It seems that this was an important turning point for the Bouteflika regime – a critical juncture in terms of policy and discourse. Given the increasing pressure from civil society organizations representing victims of state violence and insurgent terrorism, the government could no longer advocate prison terms and opted for a policy that would remove criminal culpability from the national dialogue. This timing of the change demonstrated in the ambiguity of the referendum speeches indicates a desire to avoid criminal prosecution for state actors. It seems that revelation of state responsibility made it unthinkable to carry out the previously elaborated policy distinguishing between crimes eligible for amnesty and more reprehensible acts. Blanket amnesty was the only way for the government to continue to incentivize demilitarization among insurgents, while simultaneously assuring that state actors would not be prosecuted. The discourse shifted away from the original policy emphasizing the rule of law, toward policies and frames that suggest a context in which responsibility for violent crimes of all kinds is impossible to establish.79 This is important because the regime’s discourse has helped to quell the possibility of widespread support for social groups seeking a full review of the nature of crimes committed during the 1990s. In a transparent attempt to control the national narrative, the implementing legislation of 2006 also provides for fines and jail time for what amounts to discursive attacks on the regime’s narrative: any individual who by declaration, writings or any other act, uses or exploits the injuries of the national tragedy, to harm the institutions of the democratic and popular Republic of Algeria, to weaken the State, damage the honor of its agents who served it with dignity, or tarnish the image of Algeria in the international arena.80Interviewees indicated that this section of the law has not been applied despite the ongoing work of civil society groups representing victims of both state and insurgent violence, which routinely includes activities prosecutable under this law.81 It seems that the regime is, at least to this point, comfortable enough with its discursive hegemony not to need recourse to physical enforcement. Additionally, attempts to contest regime discourse emerged from the military early on.82 More recently, as the old guard exits, clan warfare has broken out into divisive debate in leading journals amongst individuals who orchestrated military activities in the 1990s. Recently, conflict has occurred between Bouteflika (and those supporting him) and former leaders of the military who are also capable of revealing compromising details about government activities in the past. As a result, in 2016, the regime passed legislation that silences retired military officials, and has even resorted to the trial and imprisonment of one general, Abdelkader Aït Ourabi, although justified for reasons not directly linked to the 1990s’ violence.83 By muzzling military actors who orchestrated the counterinsurgency campaign, the civilian government is attempting to sanction narratives that compromise the current discourse, ostensibly in a bid to take down personal rivals. The publication of multiple damning (highly contested) accounts of the conflict by former military actors, one of which led to a defamation case in France, indicates that discourse is contested from multiple directions, with a variety of alternative narratives.84 RENTS OVER RULE OF LAW The second major achievement of the enacting legislation of the CPNR is that it integrates victims of violence into the historic system of rent distribution, now based on identities associated with the violence of the 1990s. This occurred in two ways. First, the legislation redefined the nature of the ‘victim’ recognized by the state, to include relatives of those who had been forcibly disappeared by state actors. Second, the enabling legislation apportions quantities of rents to members of each victim group, but with the express prohibition of further legal action if payments are made.85 These payments now accompany the historical payments to mujahideen (war of independence veterans), established originally in 1976 and extended to cover families and dependents in 1991.86 The policy adopted works to coopt potentially antagonistic actors into the state apparatus, through the provision of rents based on membership in the famille revolutionnaire – now perhaps more appropriately understood as the famille rentiere.87 The political implications of this policy are profound. The new law coopts the voices of individuals attempting to contest the dominant narrative of ambiguity and misfortune by providing monetary payments in exchange for silence. This element of the CPNR significantly weakened the main activist group representing families of the disappeared, due to disagreement about whether to accept payments.88 In 2010, this group collaborated with relatives of victims of kidnapping by insurgents in the creation of an alternative charter (direct discourse contestation), in which they contest the impunity for both sets of perpetrators established by the enabling legislation of the CPNR.89 Interviewees indicated that former insurgents also receive payments from the government, indicating that this is a widespread policy applied in both a formal and informal manner.90 This means that currently the vast majority of major stakeholders in the conflict have been integrated into the rentier state in exchange for support of the new policy. DISCURSIVE HEGEMONY? Maarten Hajer proposes two criteria for determining the impact of discourse.91 First, are there identifiable impacts of the given discourse on the policy process? I have outlined the ways that the new discourse has allowed for the subversion of the previous policy of dealing with the violence. The legislation of the post-2005 period discursively encourages all to think about the past violence as misfortune caused by ambiguous forces, and therefore to forget that people were initially prosecuted and serving time for identifiable crimes. This shifts attention away from the reality of state complicity in the violence and has allowed the state to avoid prosecution of state actors and regain control and compliance as payer of rents, at the expense of the rule of the law. Second, Hajer asks whether key actors have demonstrated they are ‘persuaded by, or forced to accept, the rhetorical power of a new discourse.’92 The evidence for this second test is incomplete. Actors such as relatives of the disappeared have been divided on acceptance of the new discourse, and there have been outright rejections of the CPNR, for example through the alternative charter. However, at a national level, the population has not rejected the charter or its discursive logic, and even former insurgents are adopting the language of misfortune. This article has examined these questions through texts, as a window into the government’s logic since 1995. According to the findings presented here, President Bouteflika enacted a change in policy, supported by a discursive shift that occurred at the critical juncture of 2005. The discourse itself has required local actors to engage with it in a discursive struggle that so far the state has dominated. Multiple military generals and former soldiers have also attempted to contest the official narrative, to date in ways that have contributed mostly to conspiracy theorizing. Since the state has not needed to resort to force around these issues, it seems that it has been able to establish some level of discursive hegemony. THE CONSEQUENCES OF MISFORTUNE This article claims that language has political ramifications as certain discourses foster acceptance of a new reality among the general population and key political groups. This outcome is important for a number of reasons. First, the Algerian polity has historically struggled with the establishment of robust and legitimate institutions.93 The policy of national reconciliation has further weakened institutions such as the judiciary, which previously adjudicated between certain crimes. The policy reinvested that legitimacy into the rentier function of the state, further weakening the basis of governance and provision of economic benefits. This is a precarious situation for state legitimacy and is even more problematic given the extremely high dependence of the Algerian government on oil rents from external clients. The gangrene of the rentier system has been facilitated through transitional justice policies. Related to this is the clear conclusion that the CPNR has contributed to impunity, as it has allowed for the reintegration of formerly violent insurgents and state actors into social and political life. This theme was communicated to me repetitively throughout my interviews, and supported by findings from participant observation with human rights organizations in the two largest cities in the country.94 One legal expert explained the ‘psychological effects of the charter’ in this way: ‘it created a sense of impunity, and non-respect of the state and law, and authority in general…what is more, there were very public cases of individuals amnestied who subsequently joined’ insurgent groups that were linked to the killing of Harvé Gourdel (2014), indicating a direct link to recidivism.95 International human rights organizations have echoed the conclusion that the charter has resulted in widespread impunity, and the alternative charter created by local organizations in 2010 emphasizes this exact point.96 Second, the case of Algeria demonstrates that discourse is politically relevant in cases that are weakly ideological. Often associated with full-out propaganda and ideologically elaborate authoritarian regimes, discourse might be disregarded by scholars in cases that do not meet the threshold of dictatorship. Analysis of the language used by Bouteflika has indicated discourse can be meaningful and politically consequential, even without the extensive campaigns identified with totalitarian regimes. Third, discourse is clearly shown here as a way to subvert pressure to conform to international norms, such as individual criminal accountability for atrocities. Emphasis by the Algerian regime on the democratic approval of the CPNR through the referendum makes it difficult to advance claims for justice based on criminal responsibility. But the key point here is that the charter was the tool through which the misfortune framing was advanced and codified. The way people think about the violence of the past ultimately impacts how they can imagine dealing with it. Language that continues to emphasize misfortune over injustice makes forensic investigation, not to mention criminal prosecution, difficult to imagine in contemporary Algeria. This is surprising, given that prosecution (in some form) was being used during the final years of the conflict. Finally, discourse is relevant for transitional justice studies because it allows for the shaping of new political settlements through indirect methods that are not always readily apparent. The case of Algeria should draw our attention to the distinction between what is claimed as the policy goal, and the actual policy and consequences. Furthermore, legislation that limits or manages discourse contestation about violent past periods is present in a wide variety of transitional justice cases, such as Germany and Rwanda, and serves as a further indication that discourse deserves greater attention among scholars of transitional justice. Footnotes 1 Hugh Roberts, The Battlefield: Algeria 1988–2002 (London: Verso, 2003); Frédéric Volpi, ‘Algeria versus the Arab Spring,’ Journal of Democracy 24(3) (2013): 104–115. 2 See, Jacob Mundy, Imaginative Geographies of Algerian Violence: Conflict Science, Conflict Management, Antipolitics (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015). 3 Judith Shklar, The Faces of Injustice (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990). 4 I conducted 40 interviews between September 2014 and February 2015, with human rights activists, legal professionals and relatives of victims of human rights abuses. Specific dates of interviews have been withheld to protect the security of those interviewed. 5 This article is part of a larger project analyzing discourse in Algeria on the violence in the 1990s, based on additional Arabic language sources. 6 David Rear and Alan Jones, ‘Discursive Struggle and Contested Signifiers in the Arenas of Education Policy and Work Skills in Japan,’ Critical Policy Studies 7(4) (2013): 377. See also, Norman Fairclough, Discourse and Social Change (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992). 7 C. Candlin and Y. Maley, ‘Intertextuality and Interdiscursivity in the Discourse of Alternative Dispute Resolution,’ in The Construction of Professional Discourse, ed. B. Gunnarsson, P. Linell and B. Nordberg (London: Longman, 1997), 202. Cited in David Rear, ‘Laclau and Mouffe’s Discourse Theory and Fairclough’s Critical Discourse Analysis: An Introduction and Comparison,’ http://www.academia.edu/2912341/Laclau_and_Mouffe_s_Discourse_Theory_and_Faircloughs_Critical_Discourse_Analysis_An_Introduction_and_Comparison (accessed 26 March 2018), 13. 8 Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics (London: Verso, 1985), xi. 9 M. Hajer, City Politics: Hegemonic Projects and Discourse (Aldershot: Avebury, 1989), 47–48. 10 See the recently launched Memory Politics and Transitional Justice series by Palgrave. 11 Mahmood Mamdani, ‘Beyond Nuremberg: The Historical Significance of the Post-Apartheid Transition in South Africa,’ Politics and Society 43(1) (2015): 61–88; James A. Tyner, Gabriela Brindis Alvarez and Alex R. Colucci, ‘Memory and the Everyday Landscape of Violence in Post-Genocide Cambodia,’ Social and Cultural Geography 13(8) (2012): 853–871. 12 Francesca Lessa, Memory and Transitional Justice in Argentina and Uruguay: Against Impunity (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). 13 Lisa Wedeen, ‘Reflections on Ethnographic Work in Political Science,’ Annual Review of Political Science 13(1) (2010): 261. 14 Ibid. 15 Claire Sutherland, ‘Nation-Building through Discourse Theory,’ Nations and Nationalism 11(2) (2005): 187–188. See also, N. Fairclough, ‘Peripheral Vision: Discourse Analysis in Organization Studies: The Case for Critical Realism,’ Organization Studies 26(6) (2005): 915–939. 16 Pierre Bourdieu, Langage et pouvoir symbolique (Paris: Editions Fayard, 1991), 9. 17 Laurie A. Brand, Official Stories: Politics and National Narratives in Egypt and Algeria (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014). 18 Daniel Monk and Jacob Mundy, The Post-Conflict Environment: Investigation and Critique (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2014), 19. 19 Francesca Lessa, Memory and Transitional Justice in Argentina and Uruguay: Against Impunity (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). 20 Mamdani, supra n 11. 21 Isabelle Werenfels, ‘Obstacles to Privatisation of State-Owned Industries in Algeria: The Political Economy of a Distributive Conflict,’ Journal of North African Studies 7(1) (2002): 1–28. 22 Roberts, supra n 1; James D. le Sueur, Between Terror and Democracy: Algeria since 1989 (London: Zed Books, 2010). 23 Roberts, supra n 1; Luis Martinez, The Algerian Civil War, 1990–1998, trans. Jonathan Derrick (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000). 24 George Joffé, ‘National Reconciliation and General Amnesty in Algeria,’ Mediterranean Politics 13(2) (2008): 213–228. 25 Roberts, supra n 1; Martinez, supra n 23. 26 Stathis Kalyvas, ‘Wanton and Senseless? The Logic of Massacres in Algeria,’ Rationality and Society 11(3) (1999): 243–285; Human Rights Watch, ‘Algeria’s Human Rights Crisis,’ 1998, https://www.hrw.org/report/1998/08/01/algerias-human-rights-crisis; Human Rights Watch, ‘Algeria: Time for Reckoning: Enforced Disappearances in Algeria,’ 2003, https://www.hrw.org/reports/2003/algeria0203/ (both accessed 17 April 2017). 27 Joel Campagna, ‘Siege Mentality: Press Freedom and the Algerian Conflict,’ 1999, https://www.cpj.org/attacks98/1998/mideast/AlgeriaSR.html (accessed 17 April 2017). 28 Roberts, supra n 1. 29 Le Sueur, supra n 22. 30 Mundy, supra n 2. See also, Roberts, supra n 1. 31 Roberts, supra n 1. 32 Kalyvas, supra n 26; Youcef Bedjaoui, Abbas Aroua and Meziane Ait-Larbi, eds., An Inquiry into the Algerian Massacres (Geneva: Hoggar, 1999). 33 Steven A. Cook, Ruling but Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria and Turkey (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007). Although Bouteflika has shown signs of independence from the military, he also has run his course. 34 The Algerian regime relies heavily on the use of popular referendums to indicate the legitimacy of policies. 35 ‘Journal Officiel de la Republique Algerienne Democratique et Populaire,’ 2006, http://www.joradp.dz/FTP/jo-francais/2006/F2006011.pdf (accessed 22 April 2017). 36 See, Mundy, supra n 2; Kalyvas, supra n 26; Martinez, supra n 23. These interpretations are also contested. 37 Abdelaziz Testas, ‘The Economic Causes of Algeria’s Political Violence,’ Terrorism and Political Violence 13(3) (2001): 127–144; Abdelaziz Testas, ‘Political Repression, Democratization and Civil Conflict in Post-Independence Algeria,’ Democratization 9(4) (2002): 106–121; Habib Souaïdia, Le Procès de ‘La sale guerre’: Algérie, le Général-Major Khaled Nezzar Contre le Lieutenant Habib Souaïdia (Paris: La Découverte, 2002); Mohamed Smaïn, Relizane dans la tourmente: Silence! On Tue (St. Denis: Bouchène, 2004); Nesroulah Yous and Salima Mellah, Qui a Tué à Bentalha? Algérie: Chronique d’un Massacre Annoncé (Paris: La Découverte, 2000); Bedjaoui et al., supra n 32. 38 Ratiba Hadj-Moussa, ‘The Imaginary Concord and the Reality of Discord: Dealing with the Algerian Civil War,’ Arab World Geographer 7(3) (2004): 135–149. 39 US Institute of Peace, ‘Commission of Inquiry: Algeria,’ https://www.usip.org/publications/2003/09/commission-inquiry-algeria (accessed 25 March 2018). 40 ‘Journal Officiel de la Republique Algerienne, No. 11,’ 1995, https://ajouadmemoire.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/loi-rahma-1995.pdf (accessed 27 April 2017). 41 On the militias in the Algerian conflict, see, Salah-Eddine Sidhoum and Algeria Watch, Les Milices dans la nouvelle guerre d’Algérie (Berlin: Algeria Watch, 2003). 42 Hadj-Moussa, supra n 38. 43 ‘Journal Officiel de la Republique Algerienne, No. 11,’ supra n 40 at 9. 44 I depart from Hadj-Moussa, supra n 38, that these early laws obscured recognition of a criminal act in ways that the term ‘reconciliation’ would not. In light of the more recent legislation, the policies adopted from 1992 to 2004 resemble each other more than the policy of the post-2005 period, exactly because that policy went further toward obscuring wrongdoing despite using the term ‘reconciliation.’ 45 ‘ALGERIE interview de Abdelaziz Bouteflika (Air France, lutte anti-térrorsite),’ YouTube video, 7:22, 17 September 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXU0C7OxPRg (accessed 12 April 2017). All translations are the author’s. 46 Ibid. 47 ‘Memorandum on Reforms in Algeria,’ 2004, http://www.elmouradia.dz/francais/infos/actualite/archives/memorandum-reformes.htm (accessed 17 April 2017). 48 ‘La charte pour la paix et la réconciliation nationale,’ http://www.interieur.gov.dz/index.php/fr/dossiers/168-la-charte-pour-la-paix-et-la-reconciliation-nationale.html (accessed 14 July 2017). 49 Personal interviews, legal experts, Algiers, Algeria, October 2014. 50 Personal interview, human rights activist, Algiers, Algeria, November 2014. 51 Hadj-Moussa, supra n 38. 52 ‘Meeting de Constantine,’ 2005, http://www.elmouradia.dz/francais/infos/actualite/archives/Reconciliation/Villes/Constantine.htm (accessed 18 April 2017). 53 ‘Meeting d’Alger,’ 2005, http://www.elmouradia.dz/francais/infos/actualite/archives/Reconciliation/Villes/Alger.htm (accessed 27 April 2017). 54 ‘Meeting de Batna,’ 2005, http://www.elmouradia.dz/francais/infos/actualite/archives/Reconciliation/Villes/Batna.htm (accessed 25 April 2017). 55 Joffé, supra n 24. 56 Rafael Bustos, ‘The Algerian National Reconciliation Referendum of 2005,’ Mediterranean Politics 11(2) (2006): 121. 57 See, http://www.presidence.dz/francais/infos/actualite/archives/Reconciliation.htm (accessed 10 January 2018). 58 ‘Meeting d’Alger,’ supra n 53. 59 Humphrey J. Fisher, ‘Text-Centered Research: Fitna as a Case Study and a Way Forward for Guests in the House of African Historiography,’ Sudanic Africa 5 (1994): 231, citing Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, ed. J.M. Cowan (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1979). 60 Ami Ayalon, ‘From Fitna to Thawra,’ Studia Islamica 66 (1987): 150. 61 Ibid. 62 Fisher, supra n 59. 63 ‘Meeting d’Alger,’ supra n 53. 64 Charte Pour la Paix et la Reconciliation Nationale, chap. 6, arts. 44–46. 65 ‘Journal Officiel de la Republique Algerienne, No. 11,’ supra n 40 at 9. 66 ‘Journal Officiel de la Republique Algerienne Democratique et Populaire,’ supra n 35 at 2. This phrase is ubiquitous in government and journalistic accounts. See, e.g., ‘L’Etat ne laissera pas les personnes impliquées dans la tragédie nationale créer un parti politique,’ Liberté, 2 September 2015, https://www.liberte-algerie.com/actualite/letat-ne-laissera-pas-les-personnes-impliquees-dans-la-tragedie-nationale-creer-un-parti-politique-232093 (accessed 7 April 2018). 67 BBC Monitoring Middle East, ‘Algerian President to Introduce Measures to Strengthen National Reconciliation,’ 2014, http://0-ww.lexisnexis.com.catalog.sewanee.edu/lnacui2api/results/docview/docview.do?docLinkInd=true&risb=21_T26965948963&format=GNBFI&sort=RELEVANCE&startDocNo=1&resultsUrlKey=29_T26965948957&cisb=22_T26965948966&treeMax=true&treeWidth=0&csi=10962&docNo=22 (accessed 11 January 2018). 68 ‘Journal Officiel de la Republique Algerienne Democratique et Populaire,’ supra n 35 at 3. 69 Ibid., 5. 70 Ibid. 71 Abdel Aziz Bouteflika, ‘Le texte intégral du discours du président Bouteflika,’ 2011, https://www.facebook.com/notes/envoy%C3%A9s-sp%C3%A9ciaux-alg%C3%A9riens/le-texte-int%C3%A9gral-du-discours-du-pr%C3%A9sident-bouteflika/214024315277108/ (accessed 27 April 2017). 72 This is referencing the Qur’an, chap. ii, verses 191, 193, 217. 73 Bouteflika, supra n 71. 74 ‘Who Runs Algeria? Many Doubt It’s Ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika,’ New York Times, 23 December 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/24/world/africa/suspicions-mount-that-ailing-president-abdelaziz-bouteflika-is-no-longer-running-algeria.html?_r=0 (accessed 10 January 2018). 75 ‘President Bouteflika Reiterates Appeal to Misguided Individuals to Benefit from Provisions of Peace and Reconciliation Charter,’ Algeria Press Service, 28 September 2015, http://0-ww.lexisnexis.com.catalog.sewanee.edu/lnacui2api/results/docview/docview.do?docLinkInd=true&risb=21_T26965948963&format=GNBFI&sort=RELEVANCE&startDocNo=26&resultsUrlKey=29_T26965948957&cisb=22_T26965948966&treeMax=true&treeWidth=0&csi=363095&docNo=32 (accessed 10 December 2017). 76 Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, ed. and trans. Quentin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith (New York: International Publishers, 1971). 77 This includes actors in the military, gendarmerie and a variety of militias. See, US Institute of Peace, supra n 39; Amnesty International, ‘Algeria: A Legacy of Impunity: A Threat to Algeria’s Future,’ 2009, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde28/001/2009/en/ (accessed 23 April 2017); Collectif des Familles de Disparus en Algérie, ‘Les disparitions forcées en Algérie: un crime contre l’humanité 1990–2000,’ 2015, http://www.algerie-disparus.org/app/uploads/2016/03/CFDA-RAPPORT-digital2.pdf (accessed 27 April 2017). 78 US Institute of Peace, supra n 39. 79 I am not implying that the implementation of the laws pre-2005 was fully effective, nor that they represented a better form of justice (see, Hadj-Moussa, supra n 38, on this point). Rather, they incorporated institutions and recognized political realities of the conflict that were jettisoned in the CPNR. 80 ‘Journal Officiel de la Republique Algerienne Democratique et Populaire,’ supra n 35 at chap. 6, art. 46. 81 Personal interviews, human rights activists and legal professionals, Algiers, Algeria, November 2014. 82 Souaïdia, supra n 37; Mohammed Samraoui, Chronique des Années de Sang. Algérie: Comment les Services Secrets ont Manipulé les Groupes Islamistes (Paris: Denoël, 2003); Abdelkader Tigha and Philippe Lobjois, Contre-Espionnage Algérien: Notre Guerre Contre les Islamistes (Paris: Nouveau Monde, 2008). 83 ‘Algérie: l’ex-patron des services secrets rompt le silence,’ Le Figaro, 2015, http://www.lefigaro.fr/international/2015/12/04/01003-20151204ARTFIG00425-algerie-l-ex-patron-des-services-secrets-rompt-le-silence.php; ‘Algérie: les militaires à la retraite contraints au silence,’ Jeune Afrique, 2016, http://www.jeuneafrique.com/mag/338612/politique/algerie-militaires-a-retraite-contraints-silence/ (both accessed 20 April 2017). 84 Mohammed Samraoui, Chronique des Annees de Sang: Algerie, comment les services secrets ont manipule les groupes islamistes (France: Denoel, 2003). See, in response, Khaled Nezzar, Algérie: echec à une régression programmée (Paris: Publisud, 2001). 85 ‘Journal Officiel de la Republique Algerienne Democratique et Populaire,’ supra n 35. 86 Brand, supra n 17. 87 Isabelle Werenfels, Managing Instability in Algeria: Elites and Political Change since 1995 (Abingdon: Routledge, 2009). 88 Personal interview, human rights activist, Algiers, Algeria, October 2014. 89 Coalition of Associations of Victims of Terrorism and Enforced Disappearances, ‘Charter for Truth, Peace and Justice,’ 2011, http://www.algerie-disparus.org/app/uploads/2016/02/Charte-alternative-Anglais.pdf (accessed 14 March 2018). 90 Personal interview, legal expert, Algiers, Algeria, October 2015. See also, Mundy, supra n 2. 91 Hajer, supra n 9. 92 Ibid., 47–48 (emphasis added). 93 Hugh Roberts, ‘The Struggle for Constitutional Rule in Algeria,’ in Roberts, supra n 1. 94 Personal interviews and participant observation, human rights activists and legal professionals, Oran, Algeria, 2014 and Algiers, Algeria, March 2015. See also, Mundy, supra n 2. 95 Personal interview, legal professional, Algiers, Algeria, October 2014. Harvé Gourdel was kidnapped and beheaded by an Islamist insurgent organization (Jund al Khalifah) outside Algiers in September 2014. 96 Amnesty International, ‘Algeria – Impunity Past and Present: Amnesty International Submission for the UN Universal Periodic Review – 27th Session of the UPR Working Group,’ 2017, http://www.refworld.org/docid/5878f2a04.html (accessed 12 January 2018); Coalition of Associations of Victims of Terrorism and Enforced Disappearances, supra n 89. © The Author(s) (2018). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

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