The Algerian War, also known as the Algerian War of Independence or the Algerian Revolution (Berber: Tagrawla Tadzayrit; Arabic: الثورة الجزائرية Al-thawra Al-Jazaa’iriyya; French: Guerre d’Algérie or Révolution algérienne) was a war between France and the Algerian independence movements from 1954 to 1962, which led to Algeria gaining its independence from France. An important decolonization war, it was a complex conflict characterized by guerrilla warfare, maquis fighting, terrorism, the use of torture by both sides, and counter-terrorism operations. The conflict was also a civil war between loyalist Algerians supporting a French Algeria and their insurrectionist Algerian nationalist counterparts.
In 1961, President Charles de Gaulle decided to give up Algeria, although it was regarded as an integral part of France, after conducting a referendum showing huge support for Algerian independence. The planned withdrawal led to a state crisis, to various assassination attempts on de Gaulle, and some attempts of military coups. Most of the former were carried out by the Organisation de l’armée secrète (OAS), an underground organization formed mainly from French military personnel supporting a French Algeria, which committed a large number of bombings and murders in both Algeria and the homeland to stop the planned independence.
Upon independence, in 1962, 900,000 European-Algerians (Pieds-noirs) fled to France, in fear of the FLN’s revenge, within a few months. The government was totally unprepared for the vast number of refugees, causing turmoil in France. The majority of Algerian Muslims who had worked for the French, were disarmed and left behind as the treaty between French and Algerian authorities declared that no actions could be taken against them. However, the Harkis in particular, having served as auxiliaries with the French army, were regarded as traitors by the FLN and between 50,000 and 150,000 Harkis and family members were murdered by the FLN or lynch-mobs, often after being abducted and tortured. About 91,000 managed to flee to France, some with help from their French officers acting against orders, and today they and their descendants form a significant part of the Algerian-French population.
The Angolan War of Independence (1961–1974) began as an uprising against forced cotton cultivation, and became a multi-faction struggle for the control of Portugal’s Overseas Province of Angola among three nationalist movements and a separatist movement. The war ended when a leftist military coup in Lisbon in April 1974 overthrew Portugal’s Estado Novo regime, and the new regime immediately stopped all military action in the African colonies, declaring its intention to grant them independence without delay.
It was a guerrilla war in which the Portuguese Armed Forces waged a counter-insurgency campaign against armed groups mostly dispersed across sparsely populated areas of the vast Angolan countryside. Many atrocities were committed by all forces involved in the conflict.
In Angola, after the Portuguese had stopped the war, an armed conflict broke out among the nationalist movements. This war formally came to an end in January 1975 when the Portuguese government, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), and the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) signed the Alvor Agreement.
The Mozambican War of Independence was an armed conflict between the guerrilla forces of the Mozambique Liberation Front or FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique), and Portugal. The war officially started on September 25, 1964, and ended with a ceasefire on September 8, 1974, resulting in a negotiated independence in 1975.
Portugal’s wars against independence guerrilla fighters in its 400-year-old African territories began in 1961 with Angola. In Mozambique, the conflict erupted in 1964 as a result of unrest and frustration amongst many indigenous Mozambican populations, who perceived foreign rule to be a form of exploitation and mistreatment, which served only to further Portuguese economic interests in the region. Many Mozambicans also resented Portugal’s policies towards indigenous people, which resulted in discrimination, traditional lifestyle turning difficult for many Africans, and limited access to Portuguese-style education and skilled employment.
As successful self-determination movements spread throughout Africa after World War II, many Mozambicans became progressively nationalistic in outlook, and increasingly frustrated by the nation’s continued subservience to foreign rule. For the other side, many enculturated indigenous Africans who were fully integrated into the Portugal-ruled social organization of Portuguese Mozambique, in particular those from the urban centres, reacted to the independentist claims with a mixture of discomfort and suspicion. The ethnic Portuguese of the territory, which included most of the ruling authorities, responded with increased military presence and fast-paced development projects.
A mass exile of Mozambique’s political intelligentsia to neighbouring countries provided havens from which radical Mozambicans could plan actions and foment political unrest in their homeland. The formation of the Mozambican guerrilla organisation FRELIMO and the support of the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Tanzania, and Zambia through arms and advisers, led to the outbreak of violence that was to last over a decade.
From a military standpoint, the Portuguese regular army held the upper hand during the conflict against the independentist guerrilla forces. Nonetheless, Mozambique succeeded in achieving independence on June 25, 1975, after the coup d’état in Portugal known as the Carnation Revolution, thus ending 470 years of Portuguese colonial rule in the East African region. According to historians of the Revolution, the military coup in Portugal was in part fuelled by protests concerning the conduct of Portuguese troops in their treatment of some local Mozambican populace. The role of the growing communist influence over the group of Portuguese military insurgents who led the Lisbon’s military coup, and, on the other hand, the pressure of the international community over the direction of the Portuguese Colonial War in general, were main causes for the final outcome.