ALGERIA seems to be in a scene that is completely different from what Algerians have been accustomed to throughout their independent history.
Perhaps, this is how it is being portrayed to the public; particularly after Algerian Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah invoked Article 102 of the Constitution by declaring the president unfit to rule.
Indeed, what transpired in the past few days constitutes a bloodless military coup; but in reality, it was a way of yielding to the will of people. This has not been taken into consideration by the leaders since the declaration of independence in 1962, when the first president of the republic was overthrown by the military and announcement of a state of emergency.
After that, the leader of the coup became the head of the revolutionary council and then the authoritarian president – a trend which put things backwards after the death of Houari Boumédiène and succeeded by Chadli Bendjedid who entered the club of leaders installed by the ruling party and military.
However, his downfall was due to pressure of civil war which triggered attempts by the Muslim Brotherhood Group to grab the rein of leadership through election rigging and the events which followed forced Bendjedid to resign.
Algeria continued to witness unrest, especially when the civil war flame started. Its first spark was the assassination of leader Mohamed Boudiaf. Naturally, the western countries and most Arab countries were not ready to accept the leadership of Islamic factions, primarily that of the ‘Brotherhood,’ through the election in which initial indications suggested it does not represent the will of the Algerians. The Islamists interpreted it through massacres, killing an entire village.
Algerians did not witness this tragic scene in the recent movement. In fact, the protestors remained within the legal frames; realizing that peaceful movement would save the country from falling into the furnace of war burning near them – in Libya, and even far, in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
They also realized that the gains achieved by the Yellow-Vest movement in France could be achieved by Algerians. Despite differences in demands, the appearance is the same.
Undoubtedly, Algerians were affected by the European culture owing to the historic relations between their country and Europe, mainly France. They also experienced the ‘Chronicle of the Years of Fire’ which continued from 1992 until 2002. The military also realized that standing against the people expels this institution from its natural pod.
Therefore, the military took inspiration from Egypt’s experience in siding with the people in 2011 and 2013. It gradually warned the leading elite until the matter reached the point of declaring presidential vacancy.
It seems that the move by the Army General of Staff contained the sparks of chaos, but more flexible steps should follow like setting the date of the presidential election. This is exactly what happened in Egypt in 2013 when the people toppled the ‘Brotherhood’ with the help of the military.
By doing this, Algerians would have cut short the Islamists’ aspiration to infiltrate chaos in a bid to achieve their objective to take over power, which would be the compensation for what they lost in Egypt.
Now, the ball is in the opposition’s court which must avoid steering the country towards chaos by rejecting the decisions of the chief of staff. The military should not float the current authority by extending its mandate because both situations could lead to bloodshed and destruction, especially since the extremist groups are currently looking for a sanctuary.
Algeria was not far from the militant incursion led by ‘DAESH’ in Libya where it attempted to gather its members along the border in preparation for moving to Algeria.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times