Tartag vs. Khashkhash


Several years ago, an Algerian newspaper reported that some Western secret service, which I cannot remember, had posted an ad to hire its new director. I remember I found the news “funny” as I thought of Algerian DRS. I mean nobody expects such a move from the DRS especially when you know that no more than two pictures of its current director, General Toufik, are publicly available.

Everyone in Algeria knows the DRS but most of this knowledge is based on interpretation, interpolation, extrapolation, imagination… Basically everything but proven facts – you’d say it’s normal as their activities are supposed to be well secret. Just browse the internet and you’ll find so many theories on how the DRS clan(s) rule(s) the country.

And indeed, these rumours cover almost every possible topic: how the DRS controls this or that company or economic sector, how the DRS controls this or that political party, how the DRS created this or that “corrective wing” in this or that party or association, how the DRS controls this or that newspaper or journalist, how the DRS clan fights against Bouteflika’s, how the DRS back this or that miniter, how the DRS infiltrated the terrorist groups, how the DRS created AQIM (a topic dear to a foreign “expert” writing on Al Jazeera’s website), how the DRS is related to some assassinations including Boudiaf’s, how the DRS sets Algeria’s position on Western Sahara, how a deserting officer is actually a DRS double-agent, etc. The list is too long and I’d be writing till tomorrow and I wouldn’t cover all the rumours.

So we have rumours, which let’s say can be “backed” by some presumptions or some testimonies mainly from supposedly former DRS or ANP officers or other opponents to the regime who are living in Western Europe, and we have nothing else.
We have no serious journalistic investigation on the topic – Ok a book was recently published by an Algerian “journalist” and “expert” but the excerpts I read in the press are nothing but the rumours we’ve been hearing since the early 90s. El Khabar started publishing a long interview of the services’ first director, but I doubt he’d go later than 1979. So it seems we have to live with these rumours.

My point is this, since we have no serious research on the DRS, why do we not have non-serious work on it and admit it. And here I mean fictions.
It is indeed very strange that so many novels deal with the 90s period but none, as far as I know, does deal with the DRS. The same goes for movies. Why do we not have secret services movies just like the ones on the CIA, NSA, MI6, etc.

These are some examples I could think of.

Tartag vs. Khashkhash: I have no particular story for this movie but the title sounds like Alien vs. Predator (which I never watched) so let’s make it a Sci-Fi one.

The Marshal: This would be a comedy. The Algerian press reports sometimes about regular citizens who use a false DRS officer identity to get some things done. The hero of the movie would be one of these men who, caught in his own plot, finds a way to become the real director of the DRS. I let you imagine the rest.

Messaoud in the USA: It would be the biography movie of Messaoud Zeggar.

The MALG: A historical movie on the MALG’s role during the war of independence.

9 thoughts on “Tartag vs. Khashkhash

  1. Congratulations MnarviDz on a very insightful post. Indeed, the question is very interesting. The dire lack of creative diversity in art and literature in the Arab World is depressing. Irony, parodies and satire are very useful tools to educate the public. I read once (in the fascinating book entitled ‘Freakonomics‘ if I recall) that one of the main reasons the nasty Klu Klux Klan was defeated was a comedy radio show by author and activist Stetson Kennedy, who is well known for his work undercover in the Ku Klux Klan during the 1940s. Kennedy used the code words he learned during his undercover activities trying to infiltrate this movement in his comic show. The show was about Superman confronting the Ku Klux Klan. It was very clever because it helped demystify the Klan and helped people see the absurdity of how it is represented in popular culture.

    More info on this here.

    • Thanks algerianna.
      It’s interesting that you used those very words when you mentioned the lack of creativity in art and literature. It happens that I used some of them in my upcoming post!

      The second point I wanted to highlight here is the lack of serious journalistic inverstigation in Algeria. I had already talked about it in a previous entry, but I felt the stories on the DRS deserved a special post. Our journalists are copy/paste specialists and rumours spreaders.

      Thanks for sharing the story with the KKK. I added this Freakonomics book to my reading list; I’d like to read what arguments it gives to prove the comedy helped (to which extent?) defeat the Klan…

  2. Tartag vs Khachkhach… very tempting…🙂

    By the way, a friend of mine was told by a friend of him that an other friend whose father is houkouma that qat khal is the code name of a secret operation of the DRS to inflitrate the algerian blogs…

  3. Great post MnarviDZ! As Algeriana says humour is a great tool to fight oppression. That is why oppressive regimes do not tolerate comedians and cartoonists for instance, not because they mock the regime but because they debunk the myth of their ‘might’ and reduce their hold on people’s psyche. I’d would love to see parodies of el-mouradia built on the West Wing (the DZest Wing?) or have an equivalent of the political puppet show. Perhaps they already exist. I have been searching for plays (by Algerian playrights) for this very purpose, searching for satyre, perhaps you have some tips on whom to read or watch out for.

    • Welcome aboard NG!

      I’d say the oppressive regimes don’t tolerate anything/anyone…
      We don’t have a political puppet show-like in Algeria, but some of the 80s and 90s plays had an interesting/subtle/humourous political message. What I do miss is the jokes we had on Chadli and the early 90s’ politicians, and which I’d like to hear on today’s president/politicians.

  4. MnarviDZ
    The book is worth a read, I can’t remember it went into great detail to quantify how the comic radio show helped defeat the KKK but what is interesting in the book is that it links things together which you’d never think are corelated. The KKK was just an example amongst many things the book talks about in various domains not just history and politics but also things like crime.

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