by Katherine Butler
. . . Algeria has been ravaged by violence since 1992, when generals
cancelled elections that radical Islamist groups were poised to win.
The people, in a backlash against corruption and repression, had
voted overwhelmingly for the radical Islamic Salvation Front, a wing
of which then took up arms.
At least 100,000 people are believed to have died in the decade
since, a period punctuated by unspeakable atrocities and insecurity.
Massacres of civilians are routine Ð although less frequent in
recent months Ð and generally blamed on the shadowy GIA (Armed
Islamic Group). But powerful factions within the secretive ruling
military elite have been accused of orchestrating kidnappings,
assassinations and even massacres to manipulate the GIA and
reinforce the army's own grip on power. President Abdelaziz
Bouteflika, installed by the military in 1999, has offered Islamist
groups amnesty but the GIA has rejected the offer. . . .
["The cancellation of the second round of legislative elections in
January 1992 was a dilemma for the US. The move was clearly
non-democratic, but the likely winner of the election, the Islamic
Salvation Front (FIS), was outspokenly anti-American as a result of
the Gulf war of 1991."--William B. Quandt, "Forty
Years of Independence, Violence and Impoverishment," Le Monde,
July 8, 2002]