DOMESTIC SECURITY CONCERNS
Figure 9. Balance of Power in teh Maghrib, 1993
Source: Based on information from The Military Balance, 1993-1994,
London, 1993, 111-12, 122-25, 131.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Ben Bella and Boumediene were primarily
concerned with threats to their leadership from other figures
who had been prominent in the struggle of the FLN against the
French colonial presence. During the War of Independence, the
FLN had never been a truly unified force; instead, it operated
as a coalition of groups based on different ideological, personality,
or ethnoregional considerations. As a result, first Ben Bella
and then Boumediene were opposed by a range of individuals with
strong revolutionary credentials. When Boumediene overthrew Ben
Bella and assumed power in 1965, his tight grip on the military
enabled him to dominate the opposition elements. After the abortive
attempt in late 1967 by armed forces chief of staff Taher Zbiri
to depose him, Boumediene's control appeared to be complete, and
the opposition was forced either underground or abroad.
To maintain his hold on power, Boumediene relied heavily on the
security forces--particularly the intelligence service of the
ANP known as Military Security (Sécurité Militaire), which maintained
strict surveillance within and beyond the national boundaries
of people whose ideologies were considered questionable. All political
organizations outside the FLN were considered illegal because
the FLN was defined as representing all legitimate political tendencies.
Open criticism of the regime was not permitted, and violators
were subject to arrest and severe punishment. The murders in Europe
of two former FLN leaders, Belkacem Krim and Mohamed Khider, were
blamed on Algerian security forces. Many suspected that deaths
of other well-known FLN personalities were linked to vengeance
exacted through the Sécurité Militaire.
Benjedid, having been designated the FLN nominee for president
at an FLN party congress in 1979, had greater legitimacy than
his predecessors because of the wide support he enjoyed from fellow
military officers. Reinforcing his position over time, he shunted
his rivals and potential rivals into minor positions or out of
the ruling apparatus altogether. By the mid1980s , the government
felt confident enough to release from prison or house arrest all
political prisoners including Ben Bella, in detention at the time
Benjedid assumed office. Amnesties were also granted to those,
among them Zbiri, who had been involved in the plots against Boumediene.
Former FLN leaders living abroad were invited to return home.
Data as of December 1993