In the post-World War II era, one week stands out as truly extraordinary. Just a couple of days after the failed US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, on April 21, 1961, a group of French generals launched a coup-d’etat, with the aim of taking down President Charles de Gaulle. This week marks the 55th anniversary of this profound event, little-remembered today.
The conspirators managed to control Algiers, the capital of French Algeria, but failed to achieve their secondary objective of taking Paris. Lacking popular support and having lost momentum, the coup was put down within days.
Evidence suggests that Allen Dulles, the US Director of the CIA, and his numerous contacts deep within the French government, helped orchestrate the plot.
Many French — along with Dulles — feared an independent Algeria would fall into the hands of Communists, giving the Soviets a base in Africa.
And there was another reason to hang onto Algeria — the usual reason: its natural resources. According to the US Energy Information Administration, it is today “the leading natural gas producer in Africa, the second-largest natural gas supplier to Europe outside of the region, and is among the top three oil producers in Africa.”