The Northern African states, Algeria and Tunisia, have faced several political challenges that led to the Arab Spring at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Both Algeria and Tunisia are Islamic nations that have struggled with dictatorial governance from the early 1990s. The ruling political parties included religious groups that governed in these countries based on radical Islamic principles. The governments were authoritarian and dictatorial since the rulers followed Islamic beliefs without consideration of civil liberties. Additionally, Tunisia and Algeria faced military interventions that overruled the flawed elections won by the Islamic parties in these countries. Therefore, a critical evaluation of Martinez, Roberts, Quandt, and Tailor’s studies on the military governance reveals that the army takeover in Algeria and Tunisia in the early 1990s liberated the citizens from the dictatorial rule by the Islamic fascists in these nations.
Martinez indicates that the 1992 military rule after the takeover in Algeria was significant in controlling the Islamist violence that ruled the country for many years. According to the author, the military takeover was a necessary measure to save the citizens from the long period of the Islamists’ rule characterized by dictatorship and violence. While Martinez’s analysis of the issue focuses on the strategies employed by the military to conquer the Islamic rebellion in Algeria after the 1992 elections, he notes that the Islamists’ rule promoted violence in the country. He discusses “the military strategy against the Islamist violence” his studies. In this presentation, he recognizes that the military had to employ brilliant ideas to overcome the guerrilla war mounted by over three million supporters of the Islamist Parties that won the flawed 1992 elections. He notes, “….the regime, through the policy of privatisation and liberalisation, was able to respond both to the demands of the petty bourgeoisie supporting the ex-FIS and to the interests of the army, by conferring ownership rights over privatised enterprises.” This quote indicates that the military had to deploy economic strategies to overcome the threats presented by the Islamist rebels.
Roberts also analyzes the role played by the military in the 1992 government takeover by noting that retrograde Islamism promoted dictatorship in the country. According to him, “Looked at from afar, Algeria may appear to be the locus classicus of the conflict between ‘civilisation’ (or democracy) and the forces of retrograde Islamism (or ‘Islamo-fascism’, as it is now called in some circles) into which the world risks being precipitated in the wake of the calamity of 11 September.” In this quote, the author notes that the Islamic rule in Algeria promoted Islamo-fascism in the country. This rule limited democratic rule in the nation since the Islamists used radical Islamic principles to exercise dictatorship. Roberts’ analysis focuses on the leadership evils propagated by the Islamist governments before the military takeover and after the 1992 elections. He notes that the military takeover was a timely event due to the international threats posed by the Islamist governments. According to him, “it was only after the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was banned and thus denied a democratic path to power, having won impressive victories in the elections held in 1990 and 1991, that Algeria’s Islamists resorted to the rebellion that inaugurated the violence which has ravaged the country ever since.” This quote indicates the violence propagated by the Islamic retrogrades after the 1992 military takeover. They rebelled against the change of governance and the introduction of democratic rule by the military in Algeria. However, Roberts’ analysis justifies the new governance by noting that it enhanced democracy in Algeria and promoted international peace.
Quandt also supports the military takeover in Algeria after the 1992 elections. He analyzes Algeria’s Islamist rule before the cancellation of the polls in 1992 by asserting that the military saved the nation from authoritarian governance. Quandt’s perspective denotes outright opposition of the Islamic rule that created restrictions in exercising the freedom of the citizens. According to him, the Islamists provided a hostile political and religious environment that limited the exercise of the fundamental human rights in the country. He notes, “Apologists for the new order-a regime clearly dominated by military officers saw the army as the savior of the country, putting an end to a reckless experiment that might have allowed Islamist fascists to come to power by means of democratic elections that would never be repeated” (Quandt 62). In this quote, the author notes that the military takeover offered salvation to the citizens since the Islamic rule promoted violence against the citizen. He adds that this rule was reckless since it enhanced dictatorship in the country. I believe that Quandt’s perspective provides a justifiable reason why the military takeover benefited Algeria and the international community. In my opinion, Quandt’s suggestion that the 1992 elections would never be repeated indicates that the Islamists were willing to cease power despite the irregularities witnessed during this exercise. Therefore, their quest for power and dictatorial policies created a state of anarchy in Algeria. Therefore, I support Quandt’s perspective that the military takeover saved Algeria from the violent rule of the Islamists.
Taylor’s also discusses the threat posed by the fascistic rule by radical Islamist parties in Northern Africa. He focuses his analysis on Tunisia during the Jasmine Revolution. According to Taylor, the military takeover of the country during the revolution changed Middle Eastern politics. He notes that the military played a significant role in the ouster of President Ben Ali, an Islamist ruler who perpetuated violence in the country. According to him, “While many have applauded the Tunisian army as an exemplar of military subordination to democratic values, a closer examination of Tunisian civil-military relations will reveal that the military’s response was more than simple heroics.” This quote indicates that Ali’s rules was non-democratic and promoted violence in Tunisia. Moreover, it suggests that the army saved the citizens from the negative consequences of the dictatorship rule during President Ali’s reign. Therefore, I support Taylor’s perspective in analyzing the state of dictatorship rule in Tunisia. His analysis is credible since he provides various examples in his text to show that the rule was dictatorial. Moreover, Taylor’s analysis is factual since he mentions the events that led to the military takeover from Ali’s presidency. Taylor’s analysis also provides information about the technique employed by the military to help the citizens during the takeover. He says that the military “made a calculated decision to support the people based upon corporate interests and political restraints” (Taylor 57). He notes that the military created political restraint and promoted the interests of the business community during the takeover. This method indicates that the rule of Ali promoted Islamic politics and restricted local investments in the country.
Martinez, Luis. The Algerian Civil War, 1990-1998. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.
Quandt, William B. Between Ballots and Bullets: Algeria’s Transition from Authoritarianism. Washington DC: Brooking Institution Press, 1998.
Roberts, Hugh. The Battlefield: Algeria, 1988-2002: Studies in a Broken Polity. New York: Verso, 2003.
Taylor, William C. Military Responses to the Arab Uprisings and the Future of Civil-Military Relations in the Middle East. New York: MacMillan, 2014.