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There is still hope for the popular movement in Algeria

December 16, 2019 at 10:17 am

Thousands of Algerians take part in an anti-government demonstration against Bouteflika regime figures in Algiers, Algeria on 5 November 2019. [Farouk Batiche/Anadolu Agency]

The deep state seems to have defeated the popular movement in Algeria, which was on the streets for over 40 weeks staging peaceful demonstrations calling for the ousting of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and all of his cronies. The people also demanded that none of Bouteflika’s accomplices should run for president.

However, the deep state, supported by counter-revolutionary forces operating from the UAE, along with France, did not give in to the demands of the masses. Instead, those embedded in the system decided to hold a presidential election in order to ensure that their man was in place and they could continue to govern from behind the scenes, as they did during Bouteflika’s rule. This keeps the reins of power in the hands of the wheat, rice and oil generals who have been looting the country for decades to serve their masters in the West.

Bouteflika was forced to step down in April as a result of the massive popular movement against him; ordinary Algerians rejoiced at their achievement. However, his government did not fall, which was also the case in Egypt when Hosni Mubarak was ousted. The Egyptians rejoiced but they did not notice that his government was still alive and well and his key people were still in place. We warned our Algerian brothers about this, but they did not listen to our advice and said Algeria was not like Egypt. They even began chanting the slogan, “The people and the army are brothers”, but the army is bringing them someone who served in Bouteflika’s regime for over 30 years.

READ: Massive detention campaign against anti-elections protesters 

Abdel Majid Taboun is one of his loyal men, so the body of the government will remain as it was; only the head will change but it is another Bouteflika, chosen by the generals. The oil, rice and wheat generals — “Paris’s sons in Ben Badis’s country” as they are called in Algeria — chose him so that they could have a puppet to control. This is what they did with President Bouteflika from 2013, when he became dangerously ill and unable to govern the country. However, they insisted that he run for a fourth term with the same enthusiasm that they showed for a fifth term before the rebels intervened. Nevertheless, they still have all of the strings in their hands and move them behind the scenes, controlling Algeria.

Algeria: Army leadership has no political ambitions - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Algeria: Army leadership has no political ambitions – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The people have failed to learn from the eight years of bitter experience since the first wave of the Arab Spring, even though the situation in Algeria is similar to that in Egypt. The military establishments in both countries are the strongest parties therein and control everything. However, our Algerian brothers were angry with us and rejected our advice, claiming that the Algerian army is different from Egypt’s.

All of the Arab armies are the same, though. They are there to protect the ruling regimes and not the nation; their guns are aimed at the people and not their enemies. We saw this in all of the Arab Spring countries. Although the Algerian army has not fired a single bullet at the demonstrators so far, we can guess what will happen tomorrow if the conflict rages and the people demand that the army return to barracks instead of General Ahmed Gaid Salah threatening a repeat of the “black decade”.

READ: Algeria’s new president Tebboune faces tough challenge 

The Algerian revolutionaries have made many mistakes, not least that they had no vision for the post-Bouteflika era. The movement became confused, monotonous and repetitive; a strong, influential movement became a weekly routine. Unprecedentedly, no leadership emerged to speak in its name. Nor were any specific demands made, other than the removal of the old regime; no alternatives were proposed or demanded by the people. This led to the return of the former regime, with all of its people, in the victory of Abdel Majid Taboun.

Now there is no use crying over spilt milk. It is time for hard work to regain the momentum of the movement that forced Bouteflika to resign. There must also be a comprehensive vision for future development. The protesters must not leave the streets; the election result must not be recognised, as it stems from an illegitimate authority. They cannot agree to any dialogue with the man who seized control, as Taboun requested in his victory speech, as this would legitimise him and the presidential poll.

The movement must develop itself and encourage acts of civil disobedience through which its true popularity will be revealed. Holding back will lead to the status quo becoming acceptable. This is what the military and regime are planning. If the Algerian revolutionary movement is to succeed, then such acts have to continue for it to move forward and achieve its goals, toppling the system imposed by the corrupt, fascist generals, and building a new Algeria on the basis of justice, equality, dignity and freedom for all citizens.

The country of a million martyrs is experiencing a difficult test, but we trust that it will pass it successfully. They are in the hearts of all Arabs, who hope that the Algerian people will achieve their goals. There is still hope for the popular movement in Algeria.

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