Algiers. Algeria. Bombing. Mayhem. Riot. Protest. If you have wondered, like me, what exactly the phrase, “the past is prologue” means, then look no further than Algeria now, for violence and mayhem have a long history in that country.
Though long forgotten, France had a large colonial empire which included modern day Algeria. French settlement began in the 1830s after France seized Algeria from the Ottoman Empire. Over the decades, tens of thousands of French settlers along with impoverished Italians, Spaniards, Maltese, as well as French criminals sentenced to transportation (that is deportation to the colonies), made up the European population of Algeria.
Eventually, the large Jewish population in Algeria, about 40,000, were given French citizenship along with any other Europeans or children of Europeans, that is to say whites.
In 1848, the coastal sections of Algeria were incorporated into Metropolitan France and governed as individual departments of France were governed. In Oran and Algiers, the European population outnumbered the indigenous population of Algerians. As usual with European colonization, much of the best land was expropriated by the colonial power – the French in this case.
In 1954, the flame of revolt began to spread in Algeria. The timing could not have been worse for the French. Reason: in that same year, after losing the Battle of Dien Bien Phu to the Communist Viet Minh, they gave up all of French Indochina which included Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
Dien Bien Phu lasted for some weeks. According to a news report disseminated by the French Embassy in the US on 2 March 2005, 37 American pilots flew resupply missions to the French soldiers trapped in Dien Bien Phu. The pilots served as civilian employees of Civil Air Transport, a front company owned by the CIA. 2 of the 37 pilots were killed in action. In February of 2005, the French Ambassador to the US presented the seven surviving pilots with the French Legion of Honor, France’s highest award for service and bravery.