Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Country Profile: The Empire of Algeria

The following is from my oft-mentioned timeline that is either called "No More European Empires" and "The Great Irony". It is based off a timeline I originally posted on Changing the Times that I forgot about until Bruce Munro covered it for one of his maps. This inspired me for a time to revise and expand my original idea by pinpointing the exact point of divergence to be the survival of Costa Rican soldier, Juan Santamaría, which eventually led to an earlier collapse of the European colonial empires. Since 2012, I haven't written or even shared much about this world, but last week something stirred some old memories and with no New Releases this week, I decided to flesh out the history of one of the nation's to appear in this timeline: the Empire of Algeria.

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The land of Algeria was a province of many great empires before the modern Imperial Algeria was founded, but it can trace its start to the conquest of Algiers by France in 1830 and the eventual conquest of the entire region. Algeria became a destination for hundreds of thousands of European immigrants, however, indigenous Muslims remained a majority of the Empire's population throughout its history.

The collapse of French Empire following their defeat to Prussia (which renamed itself Germany) in the 1870s led to a violent civil war between the Bourbon, Bonaparte, Republican, Communal and other factions. Victories by Communal forces in northern France led to the other factions to unite to prevent being overwhelmed by Leftist government in Paris, but it was too late. Today the Battle of Marseilles, where anti-communal forces made a last stand against the People's Guard to give the Navy more time to evacuate the city, is still commemorated and romanticized by French-Algerians.

The civil war lasted a couple more years before an Anglo-German backed armistice was agreed to, although both the communal government in Paris and the exiled state in Algiers considered themselves the legitimate government of France. Neither, of course, had to strength or will to prevent the remaining French territories around the world from being gobbled up by the other world powers.

With reconquest of the mainland impossible for now, the different factions struggled to come up with an effective way to govern the region. With pressure from the Navy, which had mostly stayed loyal to French government-in-exile, a constitutional monarchy was created and given to a Orléanist claimant and a Parliament was convened. Both branches of government, however, were under the influence of the Navy, which quickly became the most powerful institution in Algeria. It helped the Navy's position that people saw them as the only force powerful enough to protect the kingdom from the Reds to the north.

From the 1880s to the 1920s, the Kingdom of France in Algeria struggled just to survive. France fought several short-lived conflicts with the Berber tribes of the south and with the Beylik of Tunis, until its conquest by Italy. For a time there was a growing faction in France who wanted to become closer to Spain, whose nearby protectorate in Morocco was on their western border. In fact Spain thought bringing the exiled French state into their sphere of influence was a good idea and poured funds into the region to help develop it.

Perhaps the greatest threat to France's existence in Algeria came from the majority Muslim population. The French policy of preserving French culture and language along with the promotion of Roman Catholicism meant that all Muslims were excluded from positions of power and influence in French Algeria leading to riots and even outright rebellions that had to be put down with force. Many schemes were put forth to attract French and other European immigrants in an effort to decrease the disparity between Christian Europeans and the indigenous Muslims, but most of these failed until the onset Great European War.

The collapse of the last remaining European empires and the rise of Union of European Soviets [1] in Western Europe sparked revolutionary changes in the Kingdom of France. The massive influx of European refugees coupled with the newly independent African states along their border, led to a right-wing coup by elements of Army and ultra-nationalist French politicians. A new Empire, led by a Napoleon IV (despite his actual relation to the Bonaparte's being disputed), was established and turned the nation into militant autocracy over the region. New funds were poured into the Army and recruits were gained from the population of European refugees who were promised land in Africa in exchange for service to the state. During the 20s and 30s, the French expanded their territory across Northern and Western Africa and quickly became an important regional power.

Like the constitutional monarchy before them, the Third French Empire encouraged the preservation of French culture and worked to break the resolve of the Muslim population. Heavy-handed methods to maintain control was used, including mass expulsions from fertile areas for European settlers and the arrest and transportation of their leaders and intellectuals to special internment camps in the Sahara. This practice soon ostracized France from the rest of the world, especially from the Islamic Federation [2] which had expanded into Egypt, Sudan and Libya in the 1920s after those local governments joined. The government in Damascus spoke out against the treatment of Muslim Algerians and sent arms to rebel groups operating in French territory.

This threat of the Islamic Federation encouraged France to seek an alliance with the only other white-minority government in Africa, the Union of South Africa [3]. The two nations both feared being overwhelmed by their non-white majority populations and agreed the independent African states that came out of the Great European War. They devised a plan to partition the continent between themselves, but both realized that this would mean conflict not only with the Islamic Federation, but with the American Union [4] and the Empire of Brazil [5] who each had significant interest in the Republic of Congo [6] and the former territories of Portuguese Empire respectively.

The solution came when in 1951 when a dispute between Japan [7] and the American Union led to war. Since they were distracted by events in the Pacific, France and South Africa believed the moment was now and launched invasion of their neighbors, starting the Trans-African War. Despite not being officially aligned with the Japanese, they nevertheless took advantage of events elsewhere to finally realize their dreams of conquering Africa. The French employed two army groups, one that drove south to occupy the independent states of Western and Central Africa with the goal of linking up with South African forces, while another group drove east toward the Suez Canal to drive the Islamic Federation out of Africa.

The French high command had assumed that the decentralized nature of the Federation would be their undoing and for a time they were right. Lack of cooperation between the Islamic states allowed France to quickly occupy Tunis, Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan, before invading Egypt. The French, however, underestimated the resolve of the government in Damascus and the people of the Federation who rallied against the invaders. The French advance was finally blunted at Al 'Alameen. As the Federation moved itself to a total war footing, the French forces found themselves slowly being driven back from their conquests. Meanwhile, the French commanders realized too late that they had not provided enough men and material to the southern front as they had still been unable to link up with South African forces in the face of persistent resistance from a coalition of independent Africans, the expeditionary force sent by the American Union led by the famous general called El Jaguar and "volunteers" from the Union of European Soviets. [8]

With the end of the war in the Pacific, the Americans could now turn their full attention on Africa. The Union of South Africa surrounded unconditionally [9] after Brazil launched an amphibious invasion of Angola that sparked a general rebellion among the oppressed African population of South Africa. Suddenly alone, the aging Emperor and his generals vowed to fight to the very end and instituted Operation Red Sands. As French forces abandoned cities to advancing Allied forces, they bombarded them with nerve gas causing massive civilian casualties. Bangui and Benghazi were the first cities to suffer, but before more cities could suffer their fate, a coup was led by Napoleon IV's youngest son and several generals and admirals who were horrified by the nature of Red Sands. A bomb was set off in the military headquarters that killed several important generals. Meanwhile French sailors and marines stormed the Imperial palace, arresting the Emperor and several of his sons.

The new emperor, who take the name Napoleon V, offered peace terms to the Allies who at first rejected anything short of unconditional surrender, but with a long fight still to go and the French military still relatively intact, war weariness set in and the Allies agreed to terms. Allied forces aided the rebels in eliminating the remaining French units who stayed loyal to the old Emperor. To his credit, Napoleon V sponsored a new constitution that protected the rights of everyone in the empire regardless of race or religion and declared "independence" from France by forming the modern Empire of Algeria. The men complicit with Red Sands were tried and executed [10]. To further mend his nation, the young emperor married a woman from a influential Muslim family and publicly guaranteed their children would be raised in both religions and would be allowed to choose which they would follow when they reached adulthood.

Historians agree that Napoleon V's reforms prevented Algeria from suffering under a brutal occupation and reconstruction. Over time Algeria was once again accepted among the community of nations and they even gained significant influence over West African states they once occupied during Trans-African War who sought the protection of Algeria from the People's Republic of Iberia [11] backed communal insurgencies operating out of their territory in Cameroon.

Nevertheless, Algeria has found peace in the post-war world to be rather elusive. Many ethnic Europeans found life in the new Algeria to be intolerable and emigrated to neutral states in Anglo and Latin America [12]. Those that remained became more Algerian than European, especially as many in the younger generations of the 70s and 80s converted to Islam. Today a plurality of ethnic Europeans are Muslims, however, this has not resolved all the issues with the indigenous Muslims of Algeria. Many conservative Muslims still remember the dark days of white-minority rule and consider the Emperor to be a foreigner, even if the current Napoleon VI is a Muslim himself. Relations with the Islamic Federation also remain cool as the Federation sees the Empire as competition to be the representative of Muslims around the world.

Although the Empire of Algeria remains an important regional powers, the sins of its past may come to threaten its very existence in the future.

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[1]: The Communal Republic of France took advantage of the chaos of the Great European War to establish communal states in Belgium, southern Germany, Switzerland, northern Italy and Iberia, all of which eventually formed the Union of European Soviets.

[2]: A successor state to the Ottoman Empire which came about after the Turkish Sultan compromised with rebelling Arabs to form a secular republic with the Sultan still being allowed to reign (but not rule) over the Turkish rump state.

[3]: One of the few former British colonies to stay loyal to the House of Windsor after the English Republican Army captured London.

[4]: A nation formed thanks the Pan-American ideology first devised by Juan Santamaría. Founding members included the Federal Republic of Central America, Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico, but would eventually include other North and South American states.

[5]: Pedro II to put more effort into preserving the monarchy and, with the aide of the American Union, defeat an attempted coup by pro-slavery, republican forces. The two nations would remain allies until a growing rivalry would push Brazil into Japan's camp.

[6] A state formed out of former German and Belgian colonies that has done rather better than the one in OTL.

[7]: They filled the vacume in East Asia after the European empires collapse and didn't take kindly to the American Union's meddling in their backyard.

[8]: Many of these volunteers never left after the Trans-African War ended and became the seeds of future Communal rebellions.

[9]: There are actually was one term: that the South African were able to keep their king. The Allies agreed although they forced the King to abdicate in favor of his daughter who became Victoria II.

[10]: The old Emperor was tried as well, but only received life imprisonment. In a fit of historical irony, he was exiled to St. Helena to be guarded by the Federal Republic of Great Britain.

[11]: Doctrinal disputes led a short, but bloody, civil war in the Union of European Soviets. The Iberians had a much more extreme view on Communalism and sought to actively spread it across the world.

[12]: Quebec and Columbia were popular since they already had large populations of French speaking peoples, but their lack of wealth meant places like New England, Argentina and Chile received a larger influx.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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