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In late 1991, Algeria was moving rapidly to discard its socialist past and embrace a democratic future. Tragically, however, hopes for the first free parliamentary elections in the Arab world fell prey to a military coup d'etat resulting in an oppressive, authoritarian regime and ever-increasing social instability. Although one can only speculate about what would have happened if the election had not been overturned,

[T]here is no need to speculate about what's happened since Algeria's coup. Elections remain suspended; elected local councils have been disbanded. Human rights have been trampled; thousands of Islamic militants spent weeks in desert prison camps. The army's strong-arm tactics have embarrassed, even discredited, Islamic moderates. And the Salvation Front has been radicalized.... In sum, the coup has accomplished almost everything the West did not want to see happen.... Algeria's Islamic majority won't go away, nor will it become more democracy-minded when its electoral majorities are treated with contempt.

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