The attitudes of modern Algeria can only be understood by examining its history: its 132-year colonisation by France, its bloody war of liberation against French occupiers, and its reluctance since then to align with any major bloc.
After it gained independence in 1962, Algeria enjoyed immense prestige – second only to Vietnam in the Third-Worldist historiography of sacrifice – because the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) had won the propaganda and diplomatic war against France even while its poorly armed and ill-trained guerrillas had been defeated in the field. Algeria had frustrated one of the world’s major military powers and some powerful people in France, to this day, have not recovered from the humiliation. The film The Battle of Algiers defines, for many, the little they know about that struggle. Those fighting for Algeria’s independence invented modern guerrilla warfare – the word asymmetrical so fashionable in military and security jargon today was invented, in part, in the streets of the old city of Algiers in 1956.