Published by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) in April 2015, Algerian Security Policy: Determinants, Domains and Challenges by Mansour Lakhdari (ISBN: 9786144450246, 320 pp.) is an examination of how the turmoil caused by a drawn out battle with terrorism shaped the North African country’s approach to security. It is also an examination of the concepts of security and the domains which are covered by these concepts, as well as a study of the impacts of the fall of the Soviet Union on the understanding of national security and strategic security.
The book’s main focus is the contemporary definition of security, shaped as it is by a number of factors that until recently would have been considered irrelevant: security today is more a matter of “human security” rather than the security of states. The benchmarks through which security is defined, in other words, are related to individuals and not the state. In addressing this reality, Lakhdari’s study begins with the premise that the Algerian state’s security policies remain relatively weak, especially when compared to broader, and stronger, foreign strategies. Another assumption is that these policies are concerned primarily with the protection of the regime, a fact which has ultimately hindered their ability to protect national security.
The first of the book’s three chapters, “Determinants of Algerian Security Policy”, explores the factors which define a nation-state’s national interests and which are not necessarily contained within that nation-state’s borders. These factors go beyond the state’s legal jurisdiction to include the broader geopolitical, geo-economic and geostrategic spheres in which that nation-state operates.
The second chapter of the book, “The Realms in which Algerian Security Policy is Effective”, explores the most significant spheres in which Algerian Security Policy operates. The author notes that the specificity of the Algerian case means that the societal, political and economic aspects of security are no less important than the defense of the nation’s borders and the fighting terrorism. Lakhdari thus identifies the three major spheres in which these policies are active as: the protection of the state’s borders; the fight against terrorism as a national, regional and global threat; and the upholding of social peace and of social cohesion.
The final chapter of the book, “The Challenges Facing Algerian Security Policies” explores the developments concomitant to the Arab Spring revolutions which began in late 2010. The inability of observers to fully grasp the factors driving these revolutions led to the domino-style toppling of regimes across the region, and the birth of new security challenges attendant to civil war-type conflicts which ravaged Syria and, more pertinently, Libya. The latter, on Algeria’s doorstep, will no doubt become a pressing and immediate concern for Algerian security policy.
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