Algeria, Algerian military, Andarko, Bouteflika, BP, CEPSA, corruption, democracy, Dictatorship, Egypt, El Watan, Eni, hydrocarbon, instability, Italy, journalism, Libya, Malek Bensmail, Mali, natural gas, Niger, oil and gas, peru, Portugal, protest, Protests, Repsol, Sonatrach, Spain, Stability, Statoil, Switzerland, tear gas, Total, UK, USA
Sunday’s Reuters article says hundreds protested, but on Friday it was reported as thousands by Reuters. The Algerian newspaper El Watan reports that it was thousands on Sunday and tens of thousands on Friday: https://www.elwatan.com/edition/actualite/des-milliers-des-manifestants-a-alger-pour-reclamer-le-changement-du-regime-politique-video-24-02-2019 https://archive.li/DiaDV
“UPDATE 2-Algerian police use tear gas as rare anti-government protests enter third day Posted: Sun, 24 Feb 2019 20:05:02 +0000 ALGIERS, Feb 24 (Reuters) – Algerian police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of demonstrators on a third straight day of rare political protests against plans for rarely seen President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to extend his 20-year rule by seeking a fifth term.” http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/AfricaAlgeriaNews/~3/lEzc2WAchR4/idAFL5N20J0G9
“Algerian police use tear gas on anti-government protesters Posted: Sun, 24 Feb 2019 12:45:31 +0000 ALGIERS, Feb 24 (Reuters) – Police in Algiers fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of demonstrators on a third straight day of protests against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s plan to run for a fifth term after six years of his near total absence from public life.” http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/AfricaAlgeriaNews/~3/LIt_BkQQByg/idAFL5N20J0F1
“Hundreds protest in Algeria’s capital against Bouteflika’s re-election bid Posted: Sat, 23 Feb 2019 18:30:36 +0000 ALGIERS, Feb 23 (Reuters) – Hundreds of Algerians protested for a second straight day on Saturday in the capital against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s plan to seek a fifth term” http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/AfricaAlgeriaNews/~3/HXGZvltlTLM/idAFL5N20I0MK
“Algeria’s annual inflation falls to 4.2 pct in January Posted: Sat, 23 Feb 2019 13:53:27 +0000 ALGIERS, Feb 23 (Reuters) – – Algeria’s annual inflation dropped to 4.2 percent in January from 4.3 percent the previous month as the price of some foodstuffs fell, official figures showed on Saturday.” http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/AfricaAlgeriaNews/~3/qPKB4l1cUFY/idAFL5N20I0F0
“UPDATE 3-Thousands of Algerians protest against Bouteflika’s re-election bid Posted: Fri, 22 Feb 2019 19:28:33 +0000 * Presidential elections due on April 18 (Adds protests in other cities, background)” http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/AfricaAlgeriaNews/~3/VqMZS_Hi-gw/idAFL5N20H53X
“Algeria’s president to visit Switzerland for medical checks – presidency statement Posted:Thu, 21 Feb 2019 18:47:33 +0000 ALGIERS, Feb 21 (Reuters) – Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika will travel to Switzerland on Sunday for routine medical checks, his office said in a statement without elaborating” http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/AfricaAlgeriaNews/~3/D_m3S4cWnPs/idAFL5N20G880
[Added since original MA blog posting:
“UPDATE 1-Street unrest breaks down taboo in Algeria: talk is of politics at last Posted:Mon, 25 Feb 2019 17:29:30 +0000
* More demonstrations expected in next days (Adds protest in Batna)” http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/AfricaAlgeriaNews/~3/bIUG-aUcgWE/idAFL5N20K5SL ]
From VOA News:
“Top Algerian Military Commanders Being Purged Ahead of Presidential Election September 20, 2018 4:56 PM, by Edward Yeranian
CAIRO — A number of top Algerian military commanders, including the heads of the air force and the army, have been dismissed within the past week.
In a series of moves, at least a dozen top officers have been replaced since June.
Analysts say that a core of military officers under the deputy defense minister are consolidating their power in the lead up to presidential elections next spring, which ailing outgoing President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika is expected to win.
Algerian state TV announced the ouster of a number of top military commanders earlier this week, including the country’s air force chief and the army’s head of ground operations. One top officer fled to Paris with his family through Algiers International Airport, prompting the firing of top airport security personnel.
A former Algerian diplomat, Mohammed Zeytout, told an Egyptian TV station the firings were part of an “extremely ugly power struggle” in which “top generals are firing, deposing or arresting each other, while some are trying to flee the country.” Former military officers have had their passports canceled and are not being allowed to travel.
Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, termed the purges a “pre-emptive coup,” while Mohammed Zeytout called them “unprecedented except for countries that have undergone regime change or a coup.”
Bouteflika is running for a fifth term this coming spring, despite poor health, and Khashan says those who support him are using him as a figurehead behind which to govern.
“There is an agreement among the power elite in Algeria to keep Abdel Aziz Bouteflika in office because they run the country since he is incapacitated and they hide behind him and that gives them a sense of legitimacy,” Khashan said. “The fear is that if Bouteflika is gone, Algeria would be gravely destabilized.”
Khashan points out that Army Chief of Staff Gaid Salah, who appears to be calling the shots, has been using corruption as a pretext to get rid of possible rivals. “Corruption,” he said “is nothing new in Algeria. It is a way of life.”
France’s influential Le Monde newspaper reported that top army officers have been accused of “running up to 30 private companies, each,” both in their own names and in the names of family members.
Mohammed Bashoush, who teaches political science at the University of Algiers, told Al Hurra TV he thinks the current turmoil in Algeria is nevertheless part of an agreement between civilian and military leaders.
Bashoush said it is obvious the changes taking place in the military are directly related to preparations for the upcoming presidential elections, and despite the conflict between opposing sides, both the political and military wings of the presidency have come to a consensus over a road map to follow.
Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia told a press conference earlier this week, during the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, that despite turmoil, Algeria has a free press and everyone is allowed to speak out.
Ouyahia said freedom of expression is an integral part of the Algerian press and its 160 newspapers, and no one is penalized for what they write about the president, the prime minister or the institutions of state.
But former diplomat Zeytout was less sanguine.
“President Bouteflika is sick and his health is miserable. He hasn’t addressed the people in 6 years and 4 months,” Zeytout said. “No one wants to talk about it, but the real power center is Army Chief of Staff Gaid Salah, who runs the country surrounded by 30 other generals.” https://www.voanews.com/a/top-algerian-military-commanders-being-purged-presidential-election/4580444.html (Emphasis our own.)
Malek Bensmail speaking of his documentary on El Watan newspaper. The journalists called the results of 4th election of Bouteflika at 80% a Soviet style result. What is the 5th one?
Too bad this interview is in French only.
Link http://youtu.be/h7fwRB_ZOy0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Watan
Filmmaker Malek Bensmail knows all too well the risks of democracy, but he’s apparently still for democracy. His French mother had to leave Algeria after Islamic extremists took over democratically in the 1990s, the military orchestrated a coup, and there was Civil War. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algerian_Civil_War#Military_coup_and_cancellation_of_elections,_1992
The elephant in the room – oil and gas industry:
“Algeria’s national oil and natural gas company, Sonatrach, dominates the country’s hydrocarbon sector, owning roughly 80% of all hydrocarbon production. By law, Sonatrach is given majority ownership of oil and natural gas projects in Algeria….
Sonatrach owns roughly 80% of total hydrocarbon production in Algeria, while IOCs account for the remaining 20%, based on data from Rystad Energy. IOCs with notable stakes in oil and natural gas fields are: Cepsa (Spain), BP (United Kingdom), Eni (Italy), Repsol (Spain), Total (France), Statoil (Norway), and Anadarko (United States). Sonatrach’s substantial assets in Algeria make it the largest oil and natural gas company not only in the country, but also in Africa. The company operates in several parts of the world, including: Africa (Mali, Niger, Libya, Egypt), Europe (Spain, Italy, Portugal, United Kingdom), Latin America (Peru), and the United States.” https://www.eia.gov/beta/international/analysis.php?iso=DZA (may not be up to date but the most recent for EIA.)