Algeria.. Ambiguous Future between People’s Demands and Fears of Second „Black Decade“

For the second time, the Algerian army declares the death of several soldiers during clashes with extremist armed men, after a few days ago a wide military-security operation against sites became public, where armed groups were fortified in Tibaza, north of the country.

Transitional Period and Black Decade Concerns

The escalation of clashes between the Algerian army and armed groups in the country coincided with a critical political situation, including transfer of power and constitutional reforms.

Hawari Tshoktish, a political analyst expressed concerns that some parties might exploit that situation and push the country into a second bloody civil war, recalling the memories of the „Black Decade“ in the 1990s, where the country went through a bloody confrontation between the army and armed Islamic parties that lasted for ten years.

Tshoktish points out that the process of power transfer in Algeria is different from the rest of the Arab world, which has experienced similar transitions. In Algeria, the interest mobility continues and there are still some people who reject new power, which in consequence might lead to a political crisis that could be a trigger for a wider crisis in the country, resulting an armed conflict.

In the same context, Azzam Boubakr, a security expert, stresses that Algeria’s large area and having boarders with countries that suffer security unrest increases the danger of taking the country to violence. He indicates that this matter shows the importance of giving priority to the security apparatus and intensifying the army operations against the armed groups, especially as they are considered a heir for movements that led the Black Decade in the country.

According to Bubakr, the security threat is rising, with the armed groups in the country that are nothing else that extension of the Salafist jihadi group.

Necessity of Separating Political Work from Military

Although he adopts that warnings against Jihadi groups and the Black Decade, Algerian Activist Abdulmajeed Bin Dali believes that this danger does not preclude a more serious political and constitutional reforms, demanding a separation between politics and militarization.

“The basis of demands of Algerian mobility is to lift the hand of the military away from politics and not to link them to each other. Politicians have their role, and the military officials have their own,” Bin Dali said, considering that talking about military operations, army preoccupation, and political reform are merely evasion of constitutional entitlements and street demands.

Algerian President Abdelmajid Tabone approved  the constitutional amendments a few days ago, voted on in a referendum held last October.

Based on the percentage of voting on constitutional amendments, Bin Dali considers that the real danger threatening the country is not to respond to demands of movement and people and that the implementation of these demands protects the country from entering the Black Decade or any other spiral, noting that the state of absolute rejection of the existing political authority is now in place. This is the reason why the movement continues.

In addition, Bin Dali refers to a large number of Algerian people, who see the current regime as an extension of the former one, thus refusing even to discuss constitutional reforms that were passed by that authority, stressing that Algeria’s security will be achieved by an elected, popularly elected government, depending not only on military and security operations.

Among the constitutional amendments approved by President Tabun, allowing the People’s National Army elements to be active outside the borders for peace-keeping missions, provided that two thirds of the parliament members approve. For the first time, decisions of the President of the Parliament must gain the Parliament’s majority of votes to pass.

The President of the Republic was free to appoint a person from outside the majority party or coalition, to develop a special status for the functioning of municipalities with poor development, to prevent the candidacy for the presidency of the Republic for more than two terms (5 years each), whether they are consecutive or separate periods.

In 2019, Algeria witnessed a wave of wide protests against the candidacy of the former president, Abdul Aziz Bouteflika, for a fifth term, forcing him to step down months later, but protests renewed with the election of Abdul Majid Tabun as president at the end of 2019, after describing him as a reproduction of the former regime. He held several leading positions in the country during the “Bouteflika era.”

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