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Algerian Independence (responses)

by Jim Jones (Copyright 2012. All rights reserved)
Go to the syllabus or the reading on French imperialism in West Africa or the World War II time line..

There are a couple of examples, of which Hawaii might be the best one. Hawaii was an independent kingdom in the 19th century until U.S. business interests, backed by sympathetic politicians and a marine detachment, annexed the islands in the 1893. It remained a territory until 1959 when it became a state following a referendum. The vote was not unanimous.

Puerto Rico is another example. It came to the United States as a result of the Spanish American War, and despite several attempts to hold a referendum on statehood, it remains a territory of the United States. Within Puerto Rico, there are political movements that both favor and oppose statehood, as well as people whom favor things the way they are right now.

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The large number of French settlers had powerful supporters in the National Assembly and they led the movement to "keep Algeria French." The French government was also motivated by a desire to avenge their recent defeat in Indochina in 1954 at the siege of Dienbienphu. The existence of petroleum was already known, although the amount was not, so it may have also influenced the decision.

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With the border sealed, the French could use their superior resources to choose when and where to engage the rebels in the interior. Since rebel resources were limited, the French were able to wear them down.

Resources were also limited for the rebels outside of the country, but instead of attacking the French, they focused on gaining support from other countries, notably Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, all of which were already independent. As a result, the leaders of the exterior forces made diplomatic contacts with other countries and the United Nations. They were able to gain international recognition for the new Algerian government after the revolution ended, and their successors became the leaders that are portrayed in Merzak Allouache's book, Bab el Oued.

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France accepted Guinea's independence, although not very graciously, as they stripped offices of furniture and took away other equipment before leaving the country. Guinea survived, however, and became the first French-speaking independent black African country. Its example inspired others and showed that independence would not lead to a catastrophe.

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Go to the syllabus or the reading on French imperialism in West Africa or the World War II time line..