It is so hard to look South!


Click to visit his Twitter account

I mentioned in my previous post the accounts followed by Algeria’s minister of communication on Twitter and noted that they were telling on where his interests lie. This time I am going to dedicate the whole post to this topic using a newcomer on Twitter, our Minister of Maghrebi affairs, the African Union and the Arab League, Mr. Abdelkader Messahel.

The minister joined Twitter three days ago, and as I write this text he tweeted six times and follows 43 accounts. I expect (and hope) the situation to change in the near future but this post will still be valid as the 43 accounts are the first that he followed.

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Book review: Memoirs of an #Algerian II (2/2)

About Boumediene, Alistair Horne wrote in his “A savage war of peace: Algeria 1954-1962” book “in his secretiveness and retiring modesty [Boumediene] is most characteristically Algerian”. He added “in his rare interviews with writers and journalists [Boumediene] steadfastly declines to discuss the war, or his role in it”. We indeed do not know much about Algeria’s most important president’s role during the war. His real national appearance during the revolution was when he presided the jury that condemned the colonels (Lamouri and co.) who, encouraged by Nasser, had planned to kill the three Bs (Belkcem, Boussouf and Bentobal) and overthrow the GPRA. But we know little of Boumediene’s life when he was working with Boussouf.

Boumediene visiting Ifri

We do not know much either about Boumediene’s life after Algeria’s independence. Taleb‘s book helps shed some light on the 1965 to 1978 period. I’ve already written about the first two parts of Volume II. Today I write some words on the third part of this book. Continue reading

Congratulations Tunisia!

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?)

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PoF Leak: Bouteflika vs. Ezzine

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

Poll: Disappointing WikiLeaks on Algeria

The title says it all; despite the many daily articles we read on the Algerian newspapers and those some specialist (or not) bloggers dedicated to the topic, I think the Algeria-related cables we got to know so far didn’t bring any additional information to what everyone already knew. I didn’t really follow the international news recently and I am therefore not aware of all the cables’ contents but even those related to the Middle-East and the probable war on Iran had little interest if at all.

I would like first to say that I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of WikiLeaks sharing these cables first with some mainstream newspapers which “analyse” (and filter) them for us. Continue reading

I hereby declare that you are not Muslim anymore!

These are not my words!
This week two men declared many of their Muslim fellows were not Muslim anymore.

One of them is a Saudi scholar, Sheikh Al Barrak, who followed a certain logic to eventually reach the conclusion that whoever denies that men/women mixing is religiously illegal (haram) must be considered as an apostate and should be killed. This topic is a serious and complex jurisprudence matter, and specialists disagree over it; so I won’t discuss it here. As we know the vocabulary is important, so the full text in the original language can be found on his web site.

The second case has nothing to do with the first one despite them being grouped in this post.

The second man is new to the Islamic jurisprudence. He probably ignores a lot in this field but his ignorance didn’t prevent him from declaring the apostasy of many Muslims. Thank God he didn’t call for their killing. This man is the Libyan president Mouammar Gaddafi. In the video below he declares djihad on Switzerland and says that any Muslim who doesn’t boycott this country is an enemy of Allah.
The Libyan/Swiss relations faced a first crisis in 2008 when the Swiss police jailed the Colonel’s son (Hannibal) for two days. At that time, Gaddafi decided to remove all his money from the Swiss banks, and the Swiss authorities had no choice but to apologize. More recently, the Swiss government decided to deny the visa for many Libyan citizens (leaders). This angered the Colonel who retaliated with a visa ban for all the European citizens. At that point, the European Union tried to fix things as it seems nobody wants to anger Gaddafi, and Algeria said it supported Libya in its “battle”.
But now, he took the opportunity of Almawlid, and used the excuses of the recent Swiss referendum, to declare djihad on Switzerland. I wonder who would follow him there!

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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

A new chance to revive the UMA?

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.

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