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[Opinion] Algerian Liberation War

Posted November. 03, 2004 23:09,   


On November 1, 1954, a newlywed French couple who lived in a village in eastern Algeria of North Africa was killed. Some armored terrorists dragged them down from the bus and shot them to death on the spot. Almost at the same time, there were bomb attacks in 60 places in the eastern area and 10 people died as a result. All those attacks targeted French people who had colonized Algeria. A series of attacks on that day was indeed the Algerian people’s signal gun that announced the independence war against France.

On November 1, the 50th anniversary for the independence war took place in Algeria. There were fireworks and gun salutes decorating the night, with cars blowing horns to celebrate the day. For the Algerian people, it was obviously a great day since it was their first step out of 120 years of colonization. However, in the third party’s viewpoint, celebration of their independence overlapped with concerns because Algeria’s past overlapped with the reality of Iraq today.

The Algerian war and Iraq war are much the same in many ways. First of all, both are against systemized Islamic armed groups. The National Liberation Front (FLN) who led independence war in Algeria worked out a strategy of avoiding regular warfare; instead they attempted guerilla tactics, assassination and bomb attack to overcome the inferior war potential. Algerians who cooperated with France were attacked by their brothers and decapitation was also performed in the process. The embarrassed French armies tortured Algerian prisoners to obtain information. However, the French intelligence community, such as Jean-Paul Sartre, strongly opposed it. In France, public opinion was divided, and there were two extreme pros and cons against the war.

The war eventually ended in 1962 after eight years of suffering and losses of more than one million people. Having decided that there might be little chance to win the war, French President Charles De Gaulle declared the withdrawal of the French army after negotiations. It was actually surrender. As for President De Gaulle, he could not neglect the economic losses that were affected by the war. The Algerian war marked the first case that an Islamic military with poor arms defeated western armies who possessed strong military power. What will the United States be like? Will they follow the steps of France, or make a different history?

Keum Dong-keun, Paris Correspondant, gold@donga.com