The events of March — notably the suspension of the Hirak; the onset of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic; the Karim Tabbou affair; and the collapse in the oil price — are likely to have transformational implications for the country.
To these might be added the secretive manoeuvrings, described in the current issue of Algeria Focus, which are taking place within the top echelons of the security and intelligence services.
The suspension of the Hirak’s demonstrations is not a defeat, as some are claiming, but a demonstration of responsibility that the State is not matching. The Hirak’s current call in the context of the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis is: ‘protect ourselves so that the Revolution has a future.’
As the crisis deepens the inability of the State to manage anything but an army, which is in any case wholly corrupt, is beginning to be ruthlessly exposed. As the State flounders, the Algerian people — the Hirak — are stepping into the breach. It is unlikely, however, to be enough and the failure of the State’s health system could prove to be catastrophic.
The Karim Tabbou affair has revealed the true nature of the Algerian State. It will not only further damage the country’s threadbare standing in the international community but is likely to become a major symbolic driver of the revolution when the Hirak does return to the streets.
The return of certain individuals — such as Generals Abdelaziz Medjahed, Mohamed ‘Toufik’ Mediène, Hadj Amara Redouane and Sid-Ali Benzemirli — to key positions in the security-intelligence apparatus heralds a likely reversion to the ruthlessness of the former Département du Renseignement et de la Sécurité (DRS). It is also expected to lead to the demise of General Bouazza Ouassini who is currently the most senior and powerful general in the intelligence services.
The latest fall in the oil price — from around the US$50 a barrel in early March to below US$30 a barrel by the end of the month, and especially if it persists for much longer — will have drastic implications for the country’s economy and financial situation, which we believe President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s and his government will be unable to cope with.