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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Cheikh Larbi Bensari

Cheikh larbi bensariIt has been long since I last mentioned the Andalusian music on this blog, which is a shame as it is my preferred music style besides Algerian Chaabi.

Cheikh Larbi Bensari was born in Tlemcen between 1863 and 1872 and soon became the city’s style master.

He began his active life as an apprentice barber but soon switched to music and trained under Cheikh Boudhalfa’s control. He learned to play the violon, the mandolin, the gnibri and the rbeb; and sung several Andalusian styles such as the Gharnati, Hawzi, Sanaa and 3rubi. Apparently, he even sung in Kabyle. 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

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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