Algerians want regime and Elite change
The Generals are thinking Machiavellian and acting Clausewitzian, are leaning toward a unique scenario in the Arab country’s’ political struggle dynamic.
By Abdennour Toumi
The time has come for a true change in Algeria and for action from elite, political party leaders and civil social activists regarding the new paradigm shift of systemic change emerging from the Mosaic uprising. This revolt is shaping the country’s cultural politics and the way of thinking of a generation that has been marginalized for so long by the elite and the political establishment.
Yet the latest developments on the ground and from the Generals’ Headquarters are leaning toward a unique scenario in the Arab country’s’ political struggle dynamic, and they are not acting like their counterparts in Sudan who seem to have gotten the green light from the Arab counter-revolutions’ axis (Riyadh-Abu Dhabi-Cairo) to crush the peaceful movement.
Arab regime Generals are applying the brutal measures of Beijing’s rules in the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre — a political event that changed China forever — thirty years later Arab Generals, like General al-Burhan in Sudan, are cracking down on the protesters gathered at the sit-in at the General Command of the Sudanese Army in Khartoum, as did General Secretary of the Communist Party Jiang Zemin in Tiananmen Square.
The Military in Algiers, however, are concerned and stepping up actively for the sake of political stability and national security. So far, the Military have shown a perplexed role in the unfaltering political dispute for regime change. Some analysts see this position as a political ruse in order to gain more time to come up with the next President, and to turn the tide in their favor.
An argument that doesn’t have a solid leg to stand on because on the other hand, the elite and the Swiss cheese opposition(s) leaders are lacking a vision, a program and a Machiavellian leader, like the Generals who are thinking Machiavellian and acting Clausewitzian. Seemingly, a plausible outcome will relieve the Hirak and its sympathizers in the country from the nightmare of having new political forces coming to light that care most about the Algerian people after the Constitutional Counsel decision to postpone the July 4th Presidential election.
Reports from the field and analysis are alarming the divided Algerian public opinion about the winner of this popular uprising against injustice and an oligarchical system.
The question that is on every observer’s mind, is whether the Islamists would take over the country’s destiny. Well, not this time. Algerian Islamists are not ready yet for such a complex task despite the favorable fertile land, but they were taken by surprise and the retrospective leadership effects like the rest of the political ideologies of ex-President Bouteflika and his clan’s philosophy of governance horizontally and vertically. Hence the obsession of the Algerian fundamentalist secularists who oddly are still claiming that democracy doesn’t rhyme logically with elections!
The secularists in Algeria are more afraid of ballots than bullets; they simply prefer to enjoy their political fiction in news rooms and velvet Salons speaking to a disconnected audience like the elite. This rhetorical elitist speech has neither a social nor societal echo among the masses who are marching week-in and week-out looking for regime and virtually elite change. This political dilemma for the so-called “democrats” could push them to review their strategy and the means of how to govern democratically one day, and not continue to be fed by the regime’s hand at night, and spit in the soup before the masses at day.
The question in Algeria is not whether the Islamists would take over in Algeria or the Military would stay in power; the real question is whether the “democrats”, their elite and sympathizers really want to see the change that Algerian masses believe in. Subsequently, the secularists are missing a golden opportunity to become a credible and audible voice in the country. They should take this chance offered by the Generals in their global vision of fighting radicalism and acculturated elitism in the country and its ramifications on the Algerian voters and post-Red decade generation who knew only Bouteflika and his oligarchs, and heard only of Zitouni and Zouabri.
For instance, here is a massive contingent ready to operate and to fight dystopian ideas without demonization or scoffing at the legalist Islamists’ and sincere nationalists’ arabophone elite and masses — this civilized contingent is waiting for the secularists/ modernists and the conservative/Assalists to support its actions because the Generals are taking a “wait and see” position to see how this crisis will end.
At this point the masses in the Hirak are winning, but if the situation in Algeria turns sour al-Baghdadi will send a message from his “hidden” hotel room in Libya, according to the latest Intelligence reports, to their delusional sympathizers. “We told you,” they will say, and they will excel again to silence 99.9% of the Algerians.
Equally, it is a moment for the political establishment to adopt a better attitude in its “road map” negotiation strategy: “Tell me more, give me more […]” to look for a real partner among the Generals, to help the determinant of democracy thrive in the country, while also helping to review the political alternance equation. Alas, behind the scenes, the Salons’ secularist elite and the bankrupt political leaders prefer the status quo, yet paranoiacally are still worried of the Military and the Islamists.
The Islamists are a real political force, not Jihadists, but Edjtehadists (Constitutionalists), which is ideologically similar to the Christian democrats in Europe. They are well incorporated in the society, and the majority of them are not clerics, but representative of a large portion of the middle class; their main problem: they have a good serviceable young cadre of managers (doctors and engineers), but not thinkers who raise and control the narrative of change, pursue heart change, elevating consciousness solutions and lead actions locally and nationally in the trajectory of political and cultural mentality change.
The Islamist elite speaks often about Malaysia and Turkey, but to their account they do consider the masse to be ignorant like the Marxists and the Trokskyists. The masse is not only a reservoir of vote, but also a backbone of the economy, creating a new middle class that could generate wealth and eventually enrich healthy political discourse in the public debate. Further it could better enhance a democratic process that would surprise the Military like the Malaysians and the Turkish elites and political leaders.
The Algerian uprising is far from being compared to that of 1989 Tiananemen nor the Jasmine in Tunisia and the Tahrir in Egypt — As for the Algerian Islamist and secularist elites, one hopes this will not be reduced to yet another ideological showdown. Nevertheless, this could signal the establishment of the passage of civilian control over the military system, a confirmation that democracy needs democrats, is not only about elections like the secularists have been arguing, but includes the application of the rules of laws and freedom of exercise of power from the bottom-up and speech.
Definitely an episode to be followed. To stabilize the country and the region, strongly encourage the dynamic of change that is taking place, and allow a true orderly transition, which could lead to a working parliamentary system, a system of checks and balances. The Algerians like Arab masses are not simply asking for bread, but are asking to remove the dread of the dictatorships. For them, a new and relevant leader is one who gives them hope and respects their dignity.
Algerians are accustomed to anything, but gradually will arrive at real change, but now they want the “cake” of their revolt and not the “cherry” of the elite and the “croutons” of the regime.
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- France correspondent for The Arab Daily News.
- www.bareed-areej.com Editor-in-Chief
رئيس تحرير مجلة بريد الأريج
- Political consultant at IMPR a Think-Tank based in Ankara, Turkey.
- Member at the European Observatory for Arabic Language Teaching based in Paris, France.
- Affiliated with Sociology of Islam Journal and contributor at Middle East Studies / International Studies, Sociology of Islam and Muslim Societies Center, Portland State University in Portland, OR.
EDUCATION: Diplôme des Études Approfondies (DEA) in Political Science from Toulouse University I, France. Master’s degree in Law from Algiers University, Algeria.
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