This is another of my misleading titles but I had to use it to keep some coherence with a previous post. I only crossed this neighbouring country from Tunis westwards and I am going to write about this journey I made to Algeria through Tunisia.
The story itself doesn’t deserve to be shared, but thinking of it makes me recall the situation of my country at that time, and this is what I want to share. And in case you still find this long text not worth publishing, consider it as a way to keep the blog alive until I finish the few drafts I started.
It was in the 90s, a few months after I had left Algeria for the first time. Algeria back then suffered from terrorism and almost everybody feared for their lives. In case you wonder, I didn’t flee the country but only left to continue my studies. Continue reading →
I am perhaps supposed/expected to write something about Egypt and congratulate its people for toppling their dictator, but I don’t feel this is time for celebrations/congratulations: Seeing the military clearly taking over the power doesn’t please me. I will therefore wait till a new constitution is voted and new legislative and presidential elections are held, and then perhaps I may congratulate the Egyptians for the great courage and determination they have shown.
The recent events in Tunisia and Egypt have shown us that the people’s determination and organisation is key when they want to free themselves. The events have also shown us once again the hypocrisy of the Western democracies. Continue reading →
AL Jazeera and many other TV channels (including the Tunisian ones) announced that Ezzine and his family have left the country. The dictator talked to his people three times in one month and every time he had made new concessions. The Tunisians were wise enough and kept the movement running. Today Ezzine dismissed all his government and then fled the country.
Let’s hope this dearly acquired freedom will not be confiscated by the army, the police or some remnants of Zine El Abidine’s regime (what happened to Abdallah Kallel?)
The situation has calmed down in Algeria and things are going back to normal (read usual). Bouteflika, as always during tough moments when one would expect the president to speak to his people, has kept silent. Some even suggested he was dying (treating a stomach-ache) in a French or Swiss hospital. This was obviously a rumour which disappeared as soon as Bouteflika appeared next to the Canadian foreign affairs minister.
In actual fact, Bouteflika was busy talking on the phone with Zine El Abidine. Tunisia’s also experiencing a social unrest and the situation doesn’t look close to resolution. The two “Pouvoirs” do indeed have a lot in common and could be called good friends.
An old joke in Algeria says that Ezzine was surprised at and even envious of the high scores Chadli Bendjedid got at his presidential “elections” so he asked the Algerian president to help him get similar results in Tunisia. Chadli agreed (I said they were good friends) and sent his first counsellor to Tunis to share his techniques. The Tunisian “elections” took place and guess what? Continue reading →
The 14th ordinary session of the assembly of the African Union which took place between 25/01 and 02/02 in Addis Ababa reminded me of the interesting positions of the Arab states leaders in the African rulers longevity ranking.
We can indeed find three of them in the top 10 with Libyan Muammar Gaddafi (1st), Egyptian Hosni Mubarak and Tunisian Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. And if we consider the Algerian ruling system specificity (same people behind a changeable president) and the Moroccan monarchy (with different kings) we can safely add them to this top 10 list.
These regimes are still in power despite the will and hopes of their populations, and the means they use to stay in charge have little to do with democracy. But for some reason, these rulers always seek legitimacy arguments. I bet it is because they feel for their peoples and want to ease the pain their presence created and nourishes. And by providing such ingredients to the populations, they help them feel better and happily accept to follow these leaders they never chose. Such arguments could even have the surprising effect of turning parts of the populations into genuine supporters of these leaders.
Therefore, I decided to organise a sort of contest of the best legitimacy arguments. I must warn you though, I don’t know much about the internal affairs of most of these states, so it’s not advised to take the results too seriously. Continue reading →
From right to left: Muammar Gaddafi, Muawiya Ould Sid Ahmed Tayaa, Chadli Benjdid, Hassan II, Zine Elabidine Benali
Elkhabar reported today that Algeria made a new proposal to revive the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA). The Algerian idea aims at changing the structures and internal rules of the union so that the political aspect doesn’t hinder the other activities.
The only concrete souvenir I have of the UMA is this picture which many Algerians saw on their national TV or in their school books. It reminds us that 21 years have passed without making any significant advance on the union construction.
We remember Gaddafi’s famous phrase ‘we should put the union in the freezer’, but the most important setback to the UMA construction was definitely the 1994 problems between Algeria and Morocco and the closing of the land borders. This event almost paralysed the union.
Now Morocco says there will be no progress before the borders are opened again, and Algeria says they won’t open them before dealing with many aspects such as security, smuggling, drug traffic, etc. Not to forget the Western Sahara question. And I don’t think these issues will be solved any soon.
And anyway, despite some collaborations at the union level or bilaterally between the union members, the UMA has never been efficient as witnessed for e.g. by the member states negotiating individually with the European Union.
That’s what apparently pushed Algeria to make its pragmatic suggestion, and try to revive an economic union since a political one is not possible today.Elkhabar said that Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania welcomed the Algerian proposal while Morocco reminded of its conditions for “normalisation”.
A meeting is scheduled in Algiers next June and we will see what will happen. Until then, the UMA’s realised objectives list will remain as empty as its missions’ web page.