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The Algerian mummy

Algerian President AbdelAziz Bouteflika [FIle photo]
Algeria's ousted President AbdelAziz Bouteflika [FIle photo]

The country of the million martyrs will not stand helpless in the face of those who want to disparage it and its noble perseverant people who have sacrificed millions of its people for the sake of dignity and liberation from the French occupation. This nation will not hesitate to offer their grandchildren as a sacrifice for dignity and freedom so that these generals who rule from behind a mummy whose picture they hang and demand loyalty, do not underestimate them. The Algerian people will not allow themselves to be a laughing stock in the world. They are an educated nation who live near France and are pen to the Western world. They are lively and vibrant with 60 per cent of its population being young. Therefore, it was only natural and logical for a nation with these characteristics to stage an enormous popular uprising, the geographical area of which is growing by the day across the country. Various groups and parts of the nation are joining the uprising, including members of the ruling party itself after handing in their resignations. After the professional unions and various political parties joined the million-man marches, 1,000 members of the judiciary announced they would not participate in overseeing the elections scheduled for next April and called for the thwarting of the “fifth term”.

These million-man marches, organised every Friday, managed to shake the throne of the generals who rule Algeria from behind the picture of Bouteflika. The chief of staff of the Algerian army announced that the army would remain in control and will not allow the country to return to the era of bloodshed. He warned against the country falling back into the “dark decade”, referring to the civil war in the 1990s, ignoring the fact that this was their doing when they cancelled the elections that the Islamists won. There are many confessions from several officers in which they say how they donned traditional Islamic robes and beards and carried swords and terrorised people in the streets. They even killed unarmed people in their homes. They admitted that they were the ones who forced the Islamists to take up arms. They created this scarecrow, but it will not work this time because the uprising is made up of a diverse spectrum of secularists and Islamists. There is no difference between them, and they are chanting together against the fifth term.

Algeria: Deputies resign from ruling party, join protests

The state found it necessary to recall the scene of the Syrian revolution and its aftermath, comparing it to the Algerian scene to provoke terror and fear in the Algerian people, especially after members of the police force sympathised with the uprising. The Prime Minister made a statement saying, “People were offering roses to police officers, and that’s great, but I remember that in Syria it began that way, too; with roses.” It is a veiled threat to the demonstrators to turn Algeria into Syria, and instead of accusing those who shot the people offering the roses and set fire to Syria, he is accusing those who offered the roses to the police.

This raises some questions:

  • Couldn’t the Algerian generals, the generals of oil, wheat, and rice, who control the country’s capabilities, wealth, and resources, find someone else amongst them to preserve their interests and protect the acquisitions they gained by oppression, injustice, and theft?
  • Why do they insist on the nomination of a lifeless body that is clueless?
  • Were the generals who nominated the mummy unaware of the popular reaction to such nomination and that they were pushing the country over the edge?
  • Or did they want Algeria to slide down this slippery slope, destroy the country, and cause complete chaos, thus repeating the dark decade that they have been warning against or reproducing the Syrian situation that they mentioned and threatened? it’s been said, “Algeria is the only state looking for chaos while the people are looking for peace and stability.”

READ: Algeria’s stability is a French priority 

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika spent sixty years in political work. He began ministerial work in the first government formed after independence and was the first minister of youth, sports and tourism under President Ahmed Ben Bella and then became foreign minister under President Houari Boumediene. He was very close to Boumediene and supported a coup against President Ahmed Ben Bella. He remained in this position for 15 years until the death of President Boumediene. After his death, he was dismissed from all of his positions in the government and party to remove any trace of President Houari Boumediene and his era. He was accused in embezzlement cases, so he left Algeria and settled in the UAE until President Chadli Bendjedid pardoned him. He returned in 1999 and became president with the full support of the army for four consecutive terms. His supporters say that he did many good things for Algeria and achieved reconciliation within the society after the civil war that lasted ten years.  If, for the sake of argument, we accepted this as true, does this justify making him president for life? Even if we assumed he was completely mentally and physically healthy, what new things could he offer to the country that he hasn’t offered in his last four terms? What ingenuity will he offer the country?

Algerians protest president’s bid for 5th term - Cartoon [Mohammad Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Algerians protest president’s bid for 5th term – Cartoon [Mohammad Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

In psychiatry, there is a disorder known as the “Hubris Syndrome” or leadership personality disorder, discovered by psychiatrist David Owen, who left psychiatry and moved to political work. He earned the title Lord. Dr Own says that the mental and physical state of rulers affects their decision-making abilities. He believes that Hubris Syndrome symptoms appear as soon as individuals take office and can be summed up as follows:

  • viewing the world as an arena in which to exercise power and seek glory,
  • taking actions which seem likely to cast the individual in a good light and enhance their image,
  • identifying with the nation or organisation – to the extent that they regard the outlook and interests of the two as identical,
  • a messianic way of talking and a tendency to exaltation in speech and manner, contempt for the opinions of others, believing that they are accountable to God, not to the people, loss of contact with reality, anyone cruising them is considered a traitor, and cold.

READ: Tens of thousands of Algerian students extend protests against Bouteflika 

Those with Hubris Syndrome do not have the foresight to be aware of their behaviour. Preventative treatment for the syndrome includes not allowing a ruler or president to serve more than about four years, with the possibility to renew this term once, allowing them to serve eight years, not 30 like Bouteflika and the rest of the Arab rulers who remain in office until death. They torture their people and force them to live in endless oppression and humiliation. The West has realised this fact and implemented it, making their presidential terms four years, allowing a renewal once. This is why they are at the forefront of nations, and we are trailing behind.

Dr David Owen’s words referred to leaders who are physically and mentally healthy, so imagine what he would say about an elderly 83-year-old man in a wheelchair, unable to move his muscles or control his bodily functions. If he cannot control that, how can he control the fate and capabilities of a nation? His recent medical reports, which have been leaked, indicating that he has lost to ability to speak and that he breathes and eats artificially.

Algerian students gather to protest against the fifth term of Abdelaziz Bouteflika at the University of Algiers in Algiers, Algeria, on February 26, 2019. [Farouk Batiche - Anadolu Agency]

Algerian students gather to protest against the fifth term of Abdelaziz Bouteflika at the University of Algiers in Algiers, Algeria, on February 26, 2019. [Farouk Batiche – Anadolu Agency]

Of course, I am not mocking his illness or age. Those mocking and humiliating him are the army generals, who are known in Algeria as “Paris’s sons in Ben Badis’s country”. They are the ones who insist on embarrassing him before the entire world and destroying the history of his struggle, even destroying Algeria’s history of struggle as a whole and humiliating its heroic people. Does anyone remember now, after seeing the farcical scene of the ministers bowing to a picture of the president, that this country is the country of a million martyrs? Does anyone recall that this man joined the ranks of the Algerian National Liberation Army at the age of 19 and fought against the French occupation until they liberated the country and gained independence and freedom? All of the honourable and admirable pages of history have gone with the wind, and all we are left with is the picture of a mummy or zombie, as he is called in the West.

The million-man marches in Algeria brought back the images of the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011 and took us back to the good old days of the Arab Spring and the victory of the people’s will over the forces of brutally and tyranny, before the counter-revolution turned against it and brought back the same oppressive regimes. Will the Algeria revolutions breathe life back into the Arab Spring revolutions that began in Tunisia and revive them in Algeria? Will the Maghreb Al-Arabi countries inspire the Arab nations? We hope so, as we are one nation with the same blood running through our veins. Our people have the same history of oppression, ruled by tyrants and dictators who are no different from one another, and the goals and hopes of their people are the same: freedom, dignity and justice.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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