Following weeks of mass protests, the 82-year-old Algerian president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been in power for well over two decades, announced his resignation. What this basically means is that Algeria that used to be considered a no-go country by Western intelligence communities due to the harsh stance that Algiers took on opposing their activities, has now shown to the world that it’s no less volatile than such countries as Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.
Just like a number of other Arab states that fell victims of “color revolutions”, the initiators of the current insurgence took advantage of a series of miscalculations of the sitting government that would accumulate in the country over the years, among which one can find high unemployment rates among the rapidly growing urban population, widespread corruption, unresolved tensions among local ethnic groups and the imminent rise of the Islamist threat.
Even though the Bouteflika government would score many political points while combating radical Islamist militants during the period from 1991 to 2002, it is now bound to fall. This development looks particularly disturbing against the backdrop of the fact that Algiers managed to successfully navigate the troubled waters of the “color revolution craze” in the neighboring Tunisia and Libya. However, with the seasoned political strongman out the door, uncertainty is all that remains for Algeria, as there’s no way to tell how the emerging government is going to address the tasks at hand. Since the protesters perceive the above listed developments as their victory and now crave for a positive change that they believe to be well-deserved.
However, they may soon discover that the behind-the-scenes sponsors of these “revolutionary events,” namely the West, may have their own plans for Algiers, as Washington was desperate to subject it to its will for a considerable period of time. At some point those forces that remain hidden in the rapidly unraveling events managed to channel the growing frustration of the crowd into calls against the former political champion of this North African country – Abdelaziz Bouteflika, instead of criticizing the existing political system. After all, it must not be forgotten that it was Bouteflika who managed to ensure that his country escapes unscathed, when other regional players were falling one after another. Upon coming on top in the presidential race of 1999, this seasoned strongman announced an amnesty for some radical Islamists, which resulted in a sharp decline in the number of terror attacks. At the beginning of his presidency, he pursued a rather flexible policy, while making sure that there would be no prosecution of his political opponents. He even tried to translate the growth of global oil prices into social securities for regular people that remain unseen in the absolute majority of Western states.
However, when the Algerian government passed the law allowing the sitting president to get reelected an infinite number of times back in 2008, the situation started spiraling downwards. This development allowed the opposition to claim that the sitting regime must be brought down for it to give way to fundamental political changes. And when the balance of power between the existing political elites of Algeria became fragile, that’s when a number of pro-Western non-government organizations decided to transform the growing internal dissatisfaction into street protests.
The absence of a viable successor figure and the inability of the sitting political elite to resolve the economic crisis aggravates the uncertainty of Algeria’s future even further, which means that Washington would spare no time in taking advantage of this fact, just like the main internal opponents of the toppled regime – the Islamists.
In fact, the United States was among the first international players to take advantage of the turbulent situation in Algeria. Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, Washington launched a deployment of its forces in the Sahel and Sahara regions. Upon establishing a large-scale military presence while the people of the invaded country remain preoccupied with the political drama that unravels in Algiers, Washington will launch its own extraction of shale gas in Algeria in a bid to flood the European energy market with it.
Against this development, it’s safe to claim that Washington was behind the protest movement in Algeria all along, as it was interested in plunging this country into a civil war to take control of its hydrocarbon reserves. After all, Donald Trump is still in a hurry to fulfill his election campaign promises that he made to American LNG producers about his plans to create preconditions for American gas exports to the European Union, and the coup d’etat in Algeria is precisely the development he needed to make those designs a reality.
It curious that this time around in its attempts of fomenting public unrest against the legitimate government Washington would use a number of NGOs operating outside of the territory of the attacked country, namely the Washington based Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID), the International Foundation for Electoral Systems and International Republican Institute among others.
In a bid to justify its meddling in the sovereign affairs of Algeria, Washington would list the deterioration of the socio-economic situation in the country and the rampant corruption of the ruling political elites as a pretext for undermining international law yet again. It’s only logical that Algeria’s youth has no recollections of the terrors of the civil war that Algeria survived, so when they saw claims on the social media that their frustration must have been taken to the streets, they didn’t hesitate for even a moment.
What we can expect now is that pro-Western NGOs would start pursuing a number of goals, among which is the infiltration of activist and civil society forces in Algeria for the former to able to promote the notion about the complete overhaul of the political system of the country. Naturally, all of Bouteflika’s former associates would be labeled as enemies of the people in spite of the track record that those figures have of saving Algeria on more than one occasion. Then those NGOs would demand that the transparency of all elections must be enhanced by the invitation of international observers and the liberalization of the existing legislation. In the meantime, Washington would be busy training future pro-Western political champions of Algeria under the pretext of providing assistance to young political leaders.
However, if one takes a closer look at the spirit of freedom and nationalism that most Algerians share, the very spirit that allowed Algeria to become the first African country to overthrow French colonial rule, one would have a hard time believing that Algerians will happily install new Western oppressors to dominate them. No matter how much the United States wants to get a tight grip on Algeria’s natural resources through the use of its NGOs, it will not prevail.
Jean Périer is an independent researcher and analyst and a renowned expert on the Near and Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook“.