Category Archives: Algeria

Algeria on the brink of revolution

by Sungur Savran

The stakes are rising in Algeria. The mass movement is gaining a level of confidence from which it is very difficult for any kind of regime to turn people back from. On 8th March, coinciding with the International Working Women’s Day, the third round of the demonstrations against the regime represented by Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the moribund president of the republic of Algeria trying to run for a fifth time in the upcoming elections, succeeded to put up a spectacular show of force: most sources talk about hundreds of thousands in the capital city of Algiers alone and millions around the country. One Algerian newspaper (Le Matin d’Algérie) affirms, on the basis, allegedly, of revelations from security forces, that the number of people who demonstrated across the country at large reached the gigantic figure of 15 million.

Mass Uprising in Algeria

On Friday, February 22, 900,000 Algerians — men and women — demonstrated throughout Algeria against the fifth term requested by the entourage of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (who is seriously ill and is currently hospitalized in Switzerland) during the presidential election on April 18. [Bouteflika has already served four terms as president — Tr. Note.] Everywhere, demonstrators headed peacefully toward the seats of power. On February 25, Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia announced that there would be no backing down by outgoing President Bouteflika from his decision to stand for re-election, and the prime minister warned of the “risk of dangerous slippage”. Tuesday the 26th, it was the students’ turn to go on strike and take to the streets in large numbers [read our previous issue of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune; articles reprinted in this dossier].
Tuesday, February 26. It is now the turn of the national education workers to join the movement. The 48-hour strike planned for several days by the autonomous unions is widely followed: 65% of the workers are on strike from the very first day, and numerous rallies are held in several cities. The strike movement is supported by parents and high school students alike, who are also getting in motion. Other categories of workers express their rejection of maintaining the system concentrated in the fifth mandate, including lawyers and public radio journalists who have launched a movement affirming that they are “in the service of the public and not the authorities”. Strikes are breaking out all over, such as that of long-haul bus drivers.
In various unions affiliated with the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA), in reaction to the positions of the General Secretary of the UGTA, Abdelmadjid Sidi Saïd, who is one of the spearheads of the fifth mandate, activists and leaders are beginning to speak out against the positions of the General Secretary.
On the same day, a high-profile meeting was held between the Algerian Prime Minister and a delegation from the U.S. State Department. In the summits of political power, in Paris as in Washington, there is concern about what may occur to challenge the status quo. ….
A rally of radio journalists is taking place in support of Meriem Abdou, whose radio program “L’Histoire en marche” [History on the March], on Channel 3, has been suspended by the management because of its protest against the media blackout of the demonstrations.
Wednesday, February 27. The strike continues in the National Education system. New calls for demonstrations on Friday March 1st are circulating on social networks. The Chief of the Army Staff echoed the Prime Minister’s arguments, warning of “possible violence on Friday”.
As a sign of the first fissures in the State apparatus, top cadre  of the Front de libération nationale (National Liberation Front, FLN), some of whom were excluded from the party, published a letter stating: “The FLN has not been and will never be against the aspirations of the Algerian people”.
Thursday, February 28. In Algiers, a rally of journalists has been convened. “Free and independent press!” – “No to the fifth term! “, chanted the journalists. The rally was dispersed by the police, who arrested several participants — including an elected Deputy of the National Assembly — all of whom were released shortly afterwards.
For their part, 13 autonomous trade unions from different sectors, meeting on February 28, reaffirmed, in a statement, “their commitment to a democratic Algeria that respects the popular will, an Algeria of public and individual freedoms, an Algeria of social justice“. They also reasserted their “rejection of the country’s policy orientations that call into question the social State and workers’ gains as well as the policy of suffocating trade union freedoms“.
Friday, March 1. In the morning, in the capital city of Algiers, the excitement is palpable in all neighborhoods. It seems that all of Algiers is heading to the two starting points for the mass demonstration: the Place du 1er-Mai and the Place Maurice-Audin. The police officers, in large numbers, deployed at all crossroads and all the way to the presidential building, did not move. However, tear gas was used here and there against demonstrators from the beginning of the afternoon. Protesters — seemingly responding to all those who have raised the specter of “violence” in the previous days — chant: “Neither Libya nor Syria“… Their message is that the massive demonstrations of the Algerian people for their democratic rights have nothing in common with the so-called “Arab revolutions” and imperialist interference.
There were officially 800,000 demonstrators in Algiers that day, much more than last week, and millions more were in the streets across the country, with 100,000 or more in Constantine, Bejaia and Tizi Ouzou: “We have the impression that the whole city is in the streets“. Many are young people, many are women, many wave Algerian flags… The slogans against the fifth mandate are echoing everywhere, they are displayed on thousands of signs made by the demonstrators. Many demonstrators state: “It is not against Bouteflika personally, that we are protesting, especially since he is seriously ill.” The horrors of the “black decade” of the 1990s are well remembered. That is why many people say, “What we are challenging is the system.” “Young people are getting involved; System: get out of the way!“, shout the students. It is another “historic” day.

Algeria: challenging the zombie state

by Sungur Savran

In an article on Sudan published on RedMed exactly a week ago (http://redmed.org/article/sudan-revolution), we wrote the following on the probable impact of the revolutionary developments in that country on the rest of the Arab world:

Ukraine | Ukraine’s anti-Roma pogroms ignored as Russia blamed for far right resurgence

by Max Parry

Last month, former U.S. Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a lecture at Trinity College Dublin made remarks condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin, blaming him for the resurgence of far right politics in the European Union and United States. Clinton stated that Putin…

…has positioned himself as the leader of an authoritarian, white-supremacist and xenophobic movement that wants to break up the EU, weaken America’s traditional alliances and undermine democracy. We can see this authoritarian movement rippling out from the Kremlin, reaching across Europe and beyond. It’s emboldening right-wing nationalists, separatists, racists and even neo-Nazis.“

Before addressing the deceitfulness of her comments, the one part of them that is true needs to be recognized. At this point, it is universally acknowledged that there is a significant revival in far-right and neo-Nazi political activity being experienced in America and across the EU. It is also increasingly present in other countries such as India and Turkey, and even Brazil’s current leading candidate for President is being called a fascist. However, not only is Putin’s more traditional conservatism not in line with the rabidly anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and anti-immigrant orientations mobilizing in the West, according to a recent study the actual determinant of such activity is historically contingent with austerity implemented by neo-liberals like Mrs. Clinton.

Morocco threatens Algeria with intervention in Western Sahara

Morocco has informed Algiers through diplomatic channels that it will intervene militarily in Western Sahara if Sahrawi forces do not withdraw from the area east of the defensive wall, an Algerian diplomatic source told the Middle East Eye.

According to the source, Rabat used the ambassador of a European country as an intermediary in Algiers to deliver the message.