The FLN uprising presented nationalist groups with the question
of whether to adopt armed revolt as the main mode of action. During
the first year of the war, Abbas's UDMA, the ulama, and the PCA
maintained a friendly neutrality toward the FLN. The communists,
who had made no move to cooperate in the uprising at the start,
later tried to infiltrate the FLN, but FLN leaders publicly repudiated
the support of the party. In April 1956, Abbas flew to Cairo,
where he formally joined the FLN. This action brought in many
évolués who had supported the UDMA in the past. The AUMA
also threw the full weight of its prestige behind the FLN. Bendjelloul
and the prointegrationist moderates had already abandoned their
efforts to mediate between the French and the rebels.
After the collapse of the MTLD, Messali Hadj formed the leftist
National Algerian Movement (Mouvement National Algérien-- MNA),
which advocated a policy of violent revolution and total independence
similar to that of the FLN. The ALN subsequently wiped out the
MNA guerrilla operation, and Messali Hadj's movement lost what
little influence it had had in Algeria. However, the MNA gained
the support of a majority of Algerian workers in France through
the Union of Algerian Workers (Union Syndicale des Travailleurs
Algériens). The FLN also established a strong organization in
France to oppose the MNA. Merciless "café wars," resulting in
nearly 5,000 deaths, were waged in France between the two rebel
groups throughout the years of the War of Independence.
On the political front, the FLN worked to persuade--and to coerce--the
Algerian masses to support the aims of the independence movement.
FLN-oriented labor unions, professional associations, and students'
and women's organizations were organized to rally diverse segments
of the population. Frantz Fanon, a psychiatrist from Martinique
who became the FLN's leading political theorist, provided a sophisticated
intellectual justification for the use of violence in achieving
national liberation. From Cairo, Ben Bella ordered the liquidation
of potential interlocuteurs valables, those independent
representatives of the Muslim community acceptable to the French
through whom a compromise or reforms within the system might be
As the FLN campaign spread through the countryside, many European
farmers in the interior sold their holdings and sought refuge
in Algiers, where their cry for sterner countermeasures swelled.
Colon vigilante units, whose unauthorized activities were conducted
with the passive cooperation of police authorities, carried out
ratonnades (literally, rat-hunts; synonymous with Arab-killings)
against suspected FLN members of the Muslim community. The colons
demanded the proclamation of a state of emergency, the proscription
of all groups advocating separation from France, and the imposition
of capital punishment for politically motivated crimes.
By 1955 effective political action groups within the colon community
succeeded in intimidating the governors general sent by Paris
to resolve the conflict. A major success was the conversion of
Jacques Soustelle, who went to Algeria as governor general in
January 1955 determined to restore peace. Soustelle, a one-time
leftist and by 1955 an ardent Gaullist, began an ambitious reform
program (the Soustelle Plan) aimed at improving economic conditions
among the Muslim population.
Data as of December 1993