Algeria next?

Protests already have been going on since January.

The foreign minister just announced Algeria’s 20-year-old emergency law “will be lifted shortly.” Will that be enough to assuage the protesters?

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (of the nominally socialist National Liberation Front party) has been in power since 1999, “winning” a third term in an “election” in 2009.

Keeping all this in perspective, the Algerians only got finished with a civil war with Islamists nine years ago.

Given the recent civil war and the fact Bouteflika has a very different relationship with most of the west I don’t think it likely there will be much pressure on him to refrain from cracking down hard on protesters. Also, I don’t know much about the relationship between the military and the people. Is the military held in as high regard there as in Egypt?

Also, there are actual armed Islamists running around the countryside in Algeria so I think the fear of a “mooslim” takeover would be even greater in this case. I fear any wholesale change of government in Algeria is likely to be much bloodier than anything we have yet seen in Egypt and Tunisia.

Why can’t revolutions happen in Syria and Iran? At this rate all of the pro-American regimes from Tangier to Karachi will be overthrown by the end of the year with the possible exception (ironically) of Iraq.

The Syrian army is too tight with the Assad regime to let it happen, or so I’ve read in other threads. In Iran, they do have a kindasorta-elected government with some measure of popular support. A street revolution would be a two-sided street fight, and that could get really ugly really fast.

Iraq is part of the reason. Neighbours of Iraq are painfully aware of what can go wrong when a dictator is ousted. You lose electricity and running water and then your children start dying in cholera. Hospitals don’t have electricity either, besides a lot of the doctors have left the country.

They wóuld love freedom but not at any price. Things are starting to happen in both countries, but it is not surprising that they are not among the first. As Syria has a lot of refugees from Iraq, this is more prominent there. Iran is unique in having had recent demonstrations before all this started.

And our actions in Iraq and the aftermath were a heavy blow against the democracy and civil rights movements in Syria.

Algeria held a free election some time ago (IIRC something in the region of 10-15 years?). In essence a religious party won the election on the platform that they would dismantle democracy … the ruling faction then declared the election dull and void and promptly declared authoritarian rule again. It’s an interesting question as to whether a democratic election that produces a non-democratic outcome should be respected … but no doubt the fear is that this might recur.

One would hope that should a free election occur there again the common people would prevail over both authoritarian parties, but one can understand the reluctance to chance it again.

Huh. Just like a Canadian election.

A gratuitous 1066 And All That reference. I’m sorry. Well, not really, but take it or leave it.

I keep hoping it will spread to Italy.

Especially if it means more placards like “Big Chief Flaccid Ass, Resign”.

Based on recent reports Bahrain might beat them to the insurrection.

Absolutely not. Algerians have a confidence of about zero in the army (considered I think rightly so as both corrupt and as the real power behind the throne. Bouteflika is easily replaceable, and isn’t a dictator similar to Ben Ali or Moubarak). Or at least in the military establishment, since Algeria has a conscription army.

Problem is IMO that Algerians don’t have confidence in anything (political institutions, army, religious leaders…).

That’s the thing - it was patriotism and a sense of national identity transcending any class, professional, religious or tribal loyalties, that drove the Egyptian Revolution. That way of thinking is very rare in the Middle East - it can only really be found in Egypt, Turkey, Israel… and Iran.

Wikipedia says

That matches what I have read in the past.

Reading the wiki profiles, it’s not clear what kind of elections they’ve been having.

Errrr since when is Algeria a “pro American” regime mate? They seem to be at best neutralish, except regarding Al Qaeda (for their own reasons). Back in the day, they were quite pro Sov as my memory serves.

What “pressure” would the West even apply. They don’t get aide, they’ve got tons of gas and petrol.

2nd hand, from what I hear from the people in the petrol industry down in Africa, the Petrol Co / Army is basically it’s own state and has a fuck you attitude towards anyone else. Not sure how accurate that is. Although from Clairobscur here, sounds right:

Wonderful, petrol.

(adding in response to Alessan, no way mate, the French north africans aren’t tribal at all; if there is one thing that 130 or whatever years of direct French rule with lots of French settlers did it was change those guys)

But do they think of themselves as Algerians first? Do they care about Algeria as a nation?

I dunno, as opposed to what? I meet the French north africans in London, and in business in West Africa. All I can say is they’re quite a different lot than eastern guys. One thing that sticks in my mind is a bunch of North Africans (the usual grab bag of Algerian, Tunisia waiters etc) mocking some Gulfies in London about them still having tribes, etc.

But that’s anecdote. Only thing I am sure about from both those kind of interactions and my hobby reading colonial histories is that they’re way different than the guys back east.

Do they define themselves by their shared language (Algebra)?

The revolution did happen in Iran. The current government is the result of overthrowing a secular dictator. It’s a precedent that all of the people celebrating the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt should consider.

Well…They certainly care about Algeria as a nation. But the Kabyles (a non-insignificant part of the population) think of themselves as Berbers first (as opposed to the Arabs). The Kabyl issue is another can of worm that would open too (in fact it’s already opened) and a solution to this issue would have to be found in case of revolution.
I’m not that worried about the islamists. They’ve damaged too much their own cause during what is apparently called the “civil war”(*)

(*) But wasn’t really a civil war. More like a bloody “war on terror”, except internal. I’m affraid that the words “civil war” would conjure the idea of large numbers of people fighting each other. Rather, relatively small groups of extremists commited acts of terror and occasional massacres, while the army and police forces tried to quash them, using themselves quite dirty methods (in particular it’s quite clear that they let massacres happen, or even enticed the islamists to commit them, and maybe even caused them to happen in order to discredit the islamists and gain the support of the frightened population).

And, is Pan-Arabism a force in public opinion these days, in Algeria or anywhere else?