Algeria is a North African nation and former French colony that has fortunately been able to maintain stability in spite of the constant “revolutions” taking place throughout the Middle East. Now protests have come to Algeria with talk of another “Arab Spring” type revolution in the making according to a report:
The recent demonstrations in Algeria are the latest indicators of a shifting tide . The majority of the population has become disenchanted with the elite—or the “pouvoir.” In addition to their commitment to old values and unfulfilled promises, they maintain a tight control over the government. Now, younger Algerians are taking to the streets to show their frustration. By doing so, they are breaking the long held regional taboo about debating politics publicly for fear of retribution or getting arrested—and now are going so far as to make demands. “We want [President Abdelaziz] Bouteflika to go, enough, we want change and we want change peacefully,” said Mohamed Aissiou, an avid protestor and engineer.
This comes as a major shift from the decades-long norm of avoiding negative political expression in exchange for continued peace within the country. Bouteflika is credited with ending a bloody civil war that resulted in the deaths of 100,000 people. Post-war, he became president and Algerians have avoided political dissent to maintain stability. Protests in past years, beginning with 2011’s Arab Spring uprisings, show this is changing. These most recent demonstrations, in particular, are seeing the largest crowds to protest in the last decade. They are also coming with a specific demand—for President Bouteflika to not run for a fifth term.
Bouteflika has been in office since 1999, but has made few public appearances since a stroke in 2013. This has not stopped him from winning elections or hiring and firing top government officials. In light of his incapacitation, opposers of Bouteflika charge that he is not running the country. Instead, they believe that his close advisors, including his brother, Said, are ruling. There were rumors that this close circle would replace Bouteflika with another FLN-friendly candidate. However, they were apparently unable to agree on someone and decided to nominate Bouteflika again. Now, Algerians are unhappy that they have not had a say in Bouteflika’s decision to run again. The lack of free elections all but ensures a fifth term for him.
Young Algerians seem to be a driving force behind these protests. The country’s largest population segment is the youth, with 70% of Algerians under thirty and half of the population under twenty-five. In light of this, the unemployment rate for Algerians between the ages of 15-24 years is 29% and has a negative impact on the country. In addition, the government is heavily reliant on oil for revenue, but recent oil prices dropped leading to decreased revenue and a cut in spending on services. The GDP reflected this drop by decreasing 0.8%, exacerbating an already crushing unemployment rate.
As protests gained traction, Bouteflika’s absence was notable. He left Algeria for medical treatment in Switzerland the last week of February. From there on Sunday, March 3, he confirmed his intention to run for a fifth term. The announcement came via a letter submitted by his campaign manager, Abdelghani Zaalane. In an apparent effort to mollify protestors, the letter said that should Bouteflika win this election, he would not run again in the future. Additionally, Bouteflika has pledged to call for early elections, only if he is elected, within the next year. He also plans to organize a national conference “to open the way for a debate to consider proposals to amend the constitution and decide the timing for early elections.” He acknowledged the protestors, writing, “I listened and heard the heartfelt cry of protesters and in particular of the thousands of youth who asked me about the future of our country.”
These promises are unlikely to appease the demonstrators. Many feel they have heard promises of reform before, only for them to remain unfulfilled. They are calling for even more drastic measures than Bouteflika not running again, including scrapping the election altogether and for a complete reform of the country’s government. One parliamentarian, Sidi Farouki, has already resigned in response to Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term.
In response to the protests, the government has gradually escalated its response. Protests have been banned in the capital since 2001, where the largest protests are taking place and security forces are actively working to contain the demonstrations. Additionally, the government has disrupted access to the internet and state-run media agencies imposed a blackout on coverage of the protests. A leader of Bouteflika’s FLN party, Mouad Bouchareb, “scornfully told the demonstrators: ‘To all those calling for change: I say dream on, and sleep well!’”
“It’s a republic, not a kingdom!” Protestors responded, while others said, “You’ve stolen the country.”
As protests continue, the government security response is to increase its force. Security forces recently beat protestors, fired water cannons, and launched tear gas into crowds. Hundreds were injured and one man died in the protests on Friday, March 1. They spanned over 40 cities, including other major cities such as Annaba, Oran, and Constantine. Solidarity protests are also taking place in London, Berlin, and France, which houses a large Algerian community.
Six candidates have registered for April’s election. Among the candidates are retired general Ali Ghediri and car mechanic Rachid Nekkaz. While two opposition parties announced their intention to boycott the election.
Timeline of Events
Feb 21-23: Thousands of Algerians march in a peaceful demonstration against the corruption and oppression under the current regime, after president Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced his candidacy to run for a fifth term as president. Meanwhile, Bouteflika, eighty-one years old, travels to Switzerland for routine medical treatment, according to state media.
Feb 24: Protests in Paris, at Place de la Republique, emerge in solidarity with those demonstrating in Algeria against Bouteflika’s fifth term. However, the situation in Alegria escalated when the Algerian police used tear gas in an effort to disperse the crowd, and discourage the protestors.
Feb 25-26: The youth of Alegria mobilized with several student protests and demonstrations in universities across Algeria. Internet outages and disruptions were also reported.
Feb 28: Efforts to discourage the protesters continued when PM Ahmed Ouyahia threatened the demonstrations by indicating how the situation in Syria first escalated, “In Syria protests began with flowers then ended in blood.” Reports also indicated that journalists have faced violent reactions from Algerian officials and many have been detained and arrested.
March 1: Reports of tens of thousands of protesters marched the streets of the capital Algiers, Constantine, and other regions throughout Algeria. The demonstration in Algiers was the largest since 2011’s Arab Spring uprisings. Djamila Bouhired, a famous Algerian activist, stepped out in support of the demonstration. The Algerian Police and the Gendarmerie stayed clear of the demonstrators. These protests gained traction online via social media using the hashtags, #NonAu5emeMandat, لا_للعهدة_الخامسة# (#notoafifthterm), and حراك_1_مارس# (#March1movement) despite the restricted internet usage.
March 3: Protest continue to emerge all over Algeria, including cities such as: Algiers,Skikda, Constantine, Setif, Bejaia, Guelma, Mila and Jijel. People in Berlin show their support for Algerians by joining in protest as well. Abdelghani Zaalane, President Bouteflika’s campaign manager, announced on national television that Bouteflika will run for a fifth term as president, but has promised to organize a national conference to hold early elections to find a new president for Algeria, in which he will not run.
March 4: Sidi Faroukhi, former cabinet member, resigned from parliament, rejecting Bouteflika fifth bid. Continued support for the Algerian protest is seen as people march across the streets of London, crossing paths with Sudanese protesters who are also calling for the resignation of their long serving President, al-Bashir, who has ruled since 1989. Despite Bouteflika’s offer to hold early elections and his assurance that he heard protestors, Algerians still took to the streets to demand the president not run for a fifth term. (source, source)
This is a developing story and one that needs to be followed. Given how Western governments took down the nations of Tunisia, Libya, have interfered in Egypt, subverted the nations of Syria and Iraq, and how the US is pushing for war with Iran using communist-backed rebels, the fact that these protests are being done by “students” and talk of another “Arab Spring” is around again, it is a sign that the protests may be less of a natural discontent and more of fomented unrest for political gain by opportunists.
Now, let’s try to put some more context around this story.
Above is a photo of the Trans-Mediterranean Pipeline going from the southernmost point of Nigeria to the Mediterranean Sea before traveling to Europe. Note carefully how this “line” is “rooted” firmly in Algeria. Of all the nations providing oil and gas to Europe from North Africa, Algeria is the most important “hub” and has been for a long time. Its closest rival was Libya, until the US-backed overthrow of Gaddhafi.
If you have not read my piece on the oil politics of West Africa and AFRICOM, you need to read it. In this piece, I discuss how it has been alluded to in government documents that West Africa is a true mine of “black gold” in the form of oil, and that all of West and much of Central Africa is a potentially untapped oil field.
Likewise, if you have also not read my piece on Nigeria, China, and Islamic terrorism, you need to read it. In this piece, I discuss how the Islamic “terrorism”, while real in Nigeria, seems to be connected to American and Western European geopolitical manipulation because Nigeria is China’s greatest supporter outside of China and she maintains close ties with both the Chinese and Russia, and that the targeting of Nigeria is targeting both of these nations in preparation for a Third World War.
The Chinese may have a “presence” in Africa, but they are working off of already-developed lanes that have been used for centuries by the West.
It is likely, based on the rise of terrorism deep within poor West African nations and in combination with said AFRICOM reports, that the western governments are actively destabilizing these areas as part of a greater economic plan tied to political goals oriented at a Third World War.
If Germany, which is tied directly to the US and Gladio, is going to win a war with Russia, she cannot do so without firmly securing her oil and other raw materials well before the war. This was the critical lesson she failed to realize in World Wars I and II, and was forever burned into the pages of history with the five-month brutal siege of Stalingrad. She can fight and win a war through traditional blitz-type tactics, but she cannot get into a prolonged situation involving a modern equivalent of siege warfare. This will destroy her as it has in the past, and the only reason it happened in World War II was because of material shortages.
Right now, Germany is building extensive oil pipeline and railway lines for carrying oil and raw materials from all around the oil sands of Azerbaijan and Central Asia through Turkey and across multiple pipelines into Europe from the eastern Mediterranean. This “spider’s web” that she is creating will make it so that it not only will nearly be impossible to destroy all of the lines, but also so that if a line is destroyed, it will negatively impact other people not related to the conflict and so will turn them against Russia.
This also seems to be what is happening right now in Africa, but by a different means, as Nigeria seems to be in the process of being “isolated” while oil exploration seems to be taking place.
It will be interesting to note as this Algerian “revolution” progresses, how it will affect the oil industry, not only in terms of domestic production and exports, but if as a result there will be an expansion or modification of the pipelines in that nation going into West Africa, because if so much blood has been spilled over the last two centuries for it already, and given that she is a major oil power at a time when the Western world is taking as much oil as she can by nearly all means possible in preparation for a war, another “blood-for-oil” conflict or revolution would not be a surprise at all.