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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Revival of Uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa: Algeria

Guide supporting the conference event of the same name - February 6, 2020


Algerian Flag​

The Algerian Peaceful Movement for Political Change - "Hirak": Grievances, Impact on Governance and Political Transition


Zine Barka, Professor of Economics, University of Tlemcen, Algeria


Many Arab countries witnessed the so-called “Arab Spring” in early 2011. It came as a dramatic change in some countries such as Libya, Egypt, Yemen, or Tunisia. Algeria escaped the uprising although it had a minor effect, but without any significant change on the political arena. The memory of the civil war in the late 1980s played an important role in keeping the population far from violence. Because of the lessons learned from that time or due to a worsening particular situation, the regime in Algeria is again experimenting a different kind of peaceful movement asking for deep political change known locally as “Hirak.” This peaceful movement started in February 2019 and the protestors are asking for regime change and the end of corruption among other changes to be introduced. In nature it is different from the Arab Spring. The presentation will look, in the first part, at the main grievances behind the popular protests, followed by the role of youth and women. The role played by external actors will be examined. Part two deals with the challenges confronting the movement in terms of achieving political change smoothly and that would be a lesson to look at for many Arab countries. But, will it happen or will it be allowed to succeed? And finally, we will address the economic consequences of these weekly protests.


Robert P. Parks, “Algeria and the Arab Uprisings,” in Clement Henry and Jang Ji-Hyang, eds., The Arab Spring: Will It Lead to Democratic Transitions? Palgrave, 2012: 56-73. 

Thomas Serres, “Understanding Algeria’s Revolutionary Movement,” Middle East Brief, Crown Center for Middle East Studies, 2019. 

Ilhem Rachidi, “Algeria’s Election Won’t Save Its Democracy,” Foreign Policy, December 11, 2019. 

Yahia Zoubir, The Algerian Crisis: Origins and Prospects for a “Second Republic,” Al Jazeera Centre for Studies, May 21. 2019.

Zaouia Meriem-Benziane, “Algeria: An Unpopular Election,” The New Arab, December 11, 2019.

The Algerian Uprising: Origins and Perspectives


Hamza Hamouchene, Algerian Campaigner, Writer, and Scholar, The Transnational Institute (TNI)


The momentous events of 2019 in Algeria have been truly historic. The people won the first battle in their struggle to radically overhaul the system in early April 2019. Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the ailing president for the past twenty years, was forced to abdicate after more than six weeks of street protests and a re-configuration of alliances within the ruling classes. Since Friday, February 22, and for almost a year now, millions of people—young and old, men and women from different social classes—have taken to the streets in an inspiring uprising, re-appropriating long-confiscated public space. Historic Friday marches followed by protests in several sectors (education, health, petrochemical industry, students, etc.) united people in their rejection of the ruling system and their demands for radical democratic change. In this talk, Dr Hamza Hamouchene will address:

  • The political roots of the uprising that lie in a decades-long multi-dimensional crisis.
  • The economic roots of the current popular movement (Hirak), which tend to be sidelined and excluded from the discussion: the compradorization of the regime (the rise of a comprador oligarchy), the neoliberalization of the economy (privatizations...), the role of foreign capital and multinationals.
  • The fact that Algerian, Sudanese, Lebanese, and Iraqi uprisings being part of the second wave in the Arab and African uprisings of 2010-2011, within a framework of a protracted revolutionary process in the region.
  • The Algerian uprisings as a continuation of the anti-colonial struggles: and here we can have a brief historical perspective of the 60s and 70s when Algeria was a focal point of transnational solidarities against colonialism, neo-colonialism, and white supremacy.
  • The forces, demands, contradictions, limits and perspectives of the revolt.



Hamza Hamouchene, “The Arab Spring lives on in Algeria.” Jacobin, August 13, 2019. 

Hamza Hamouchene, “Algeria in Revolt: ‘We Woke Up and You Will Pay!’” ROAR Magazine, April 8, 2019. 

Hamza Hamouchene and Brahim Rouabah, “The Political Economy of Regime Survival: Algeria in the context of the African and Arab uprising,” Review of African Political Economy, 2016, 43:150, 668-680. 

Brahim Rouabah, “The People’s Movement in Algeria: Eight Months on.” Africa Is a Country, October 31, 2019.