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The most important implication of what is happening in Algeria

People attend a demonstration to protest against candidacy of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for a 5th term in Algiers, Algeria on 4 March 2019 [Farouk Batiche/Anadolu Agency]
People attend a demonstration to protest against candidacy of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for a 5th term in Algiers, Algeria on 4 March 2019 [Farouk Batiche/Anadolu Agency]

What happened and is still happening in Algeria, beginning with the protests against Bouteflika’s candidacy for a fifth term and most recently his decision not to run in the elections is not ordinary or normal by any standard. This is also the case for what is happening in Sudan, although the Algerian scene is more powerful and clearer.

Of course we can also add to this list a number of Arab protests in recent years, such as Iraq, Mauritania, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco, along with occasional peaceful protests in the Syrian revolution. Most recently, we have seen some forms of limited protests in Egypt despite the ferocity of oppression.

These protests have several implications, but the most important implication is that the Arab counter-revolutions’ number one is to discipline the nations. It wanted to do so in order to stop the nations from taking to the streets once again, using the threat, “Do you want what happened to Syria to happen to you?” However, this goal was not achieved.

Algeria is a very important case for the simple reason that it was the country that did not witness any activity during the Arab Spring. Threats and warnings against a repeat of the “Black Decade” was used during that time to prevent people from taking to the streets.

Today, both the warnings against the “Black Decade” and warnings of suffering the same fate of Syria fell on deaf ears as the people are sick and tired of the current situation, as the country, which is filled with youth and wealth, is suffering under the rule of a mummy, which has pushed the people towards immigration to the West in search of hope.

READ: The Algerian mummy

Given the partial victory achieved by the Algerians, by forcing Bouteflika to withdraw his candidacy, the counter-revolution’s dream of reining the people in is evaporating. It is being confirmed, over and over again, that this nation possesses exceptional vitality and that it may give in to the storm for some time, but it always regains its vitality. They also confirm that the dreams of the Arab Spring still inhabit the conscience of the people, i.e. the dreams of freedom, dignity and social justice.

The story is not over yet. The internal and external balance of power may impose itself and the choices and will of the Algerian people may be disregarded once again. However, this will not change the fact that the fight for freedom and liberation is a long journey that will end well, sooner or later.

There is another important aspect of what has been and is happening in the country. While the Arab Spring is being accused of being what is known as “political Islam”, and accordingly has been pursued in a crazy manner, on which tens of billions of dollars was spent, it is now proving a matter already known to the wise and rational. It is proving that the Arab Spring was not a religious protest and the fact that the political Islam forces led the scene was only because they were the most cohesive groups at the time. However, the core and essence of the Arab Spring was not religious because at the time, the regimes were tolerating religion to some extent and growing close to its officials in various ways for the purpose of containing and marginalising its forces.

This also disproves the theory that fighting political Islam will prevent the people from protesting. On the contrary, other forces leading the protests will make the task of repression more difficult because the outside world’s interaction with them will be better. Meanwhile, the political Islam forces are basically orphaned and most of these forces are easily labelled as violent or terrorists.

What concerns us is precisely what causes the supporters of the counter-revolution and the shabiha a headache, i.e. the Arab public have not abandoned their desires for freedom, liberty and social justice. Meanwhile, dependency on foreign parties and abandoning the nation’s causes, beginning with the Palestinian cause, which is a strong motivator, has not been successful for the other side. The conclusion reached is that the renewal of the Arab Spring is inevitable whether it happens today or at a later time.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Arab on 13 March 2019

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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