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Algerian Clans and Communities

Kabyli women

Tuareg / Photo HH
Tuareg / Photo HH
Since the war of independence, the Algerian population has had a strong sense of national belonging. The experience of that war, which is transmitted both through the educational system and more informally, has strengthened the idea of nationhood. The economic integration of the country, its imperfections notwithstanding, has brought people from the various regions of the large country into more contact with each other. Regionalism is, however, still an important factor in Algerian social and political life. The regional origins of the President and other state leaders, for example, are considered significant. There has always been a rivalry between the elites from eastern and western Algeria. Smaller groups, such as the Tuareg or the Ibadis of the Saharan region, are left out of this equation. There is also competition between Arabic and Berber-speaking regions, although this involves mainly Kabylia and its relationship to the power centre of nearby Algiers. In both cases, the tensions overlap with other factors, and social and political leaders from the same region have often exhibited strong differences – for example, the contrasting orientations of the so-called Berber parties (the Socialist Forces Front (Front des Forces socialistes, FFS), and the Rally for Culture and Democracy (Rassemblement pour la Culture et la Démocratie, RCD)), and the differences between the two parties and the local social movements that appeared in Kabylia beginning in the 1990s. Many politicians also have client networks.

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