Tunisiami Waves Not Political Tsunami
Tunisiami Waves Not Political Tsunami
The Tunisiami that is sweeping the Arab lands from Manama to the shores of Tripoli might come to rest in Algiers' harbor, not because the Algerian regime is immune; simply because the regime is on guard to prevent its end from this political high wave. The country is still resting on the debris of a sleepy volcano that erupted in October, 1988. It forced Algeria’s President, then Mr. Ben Djeddid, and his reformist team to react intelligently to the despair of the country's youth---their message was loud and clear like the Tunisians and the Egyptians. That message shaped the country’s economic and political orientations and generated a new dynamic for hope: the Algerian Perestroïka.
That hope did not last. The 1988 revolt generated the first free elections in the Arab world post-independence and led to the victory of the Islamists, followed with a smooth military coup in February, 1992. Consequently, the country entered a decade of war against civilians. Amazingly, the so-called Algerian democrats and the liberal intelligentsia applauded the coup and obstructed the process, mocking the people’s desire for change. They preferred the military’s alibi of “raison d’état.” As a result of that amateurish ideological stand, Algerians today are sarcastically horrified when they hear of "change" or “democracy”, particularly from Dr. Saïdi and his buddies, the zealous “republicans” and the berberists/regionalists.
The clement rainfalls of the Arab winter, 2011, will not irrigate Algeria’s dry land as the experts are predicting will take place. People are not asking for regime change or telling President Bouteflika to leave. Their demands are socio-economic. People want a better life in Algeria and not elsewhere as the regime’s failing public policies want them to be. Seemingly, the regime has been watching this Tunisiami since its first wave. Yesterday, President Bouteflika signed the annulment of the state of emergency measure, and Wednesday his government took serious micro-economic measures that could ease the daily life of Algerians if applied.
Undoubtedly, the socio-economic ingredients and the high level of hopelessness are boiling in the Algerian pot too, as elsewhere in the Arab world. Recent riots in the country’s streets and self-immolation cases have served as events through which the passive political opposition has tried to regroup. It is very difficult for this “opposition” to convince the population to rally behind it, since any opposition is already labeled as regionalist and irrelevant, if not non-existent. However, the opposition led by genuine Human Rights, including feminist activists, former political parties' leaders and statesmen has a certain credibility. Too bad, their message has been lost in translation owing mainly to the politician genius of President Bouteflika who is considered to be a providential President. The majority believes he put Algeria back on its feet domestically and diplomatically. Nevertheless, there is a minority that reproaches him for acting in 2009 like any autocrat in the Arab world when he amended the Constitution to allow him to run for a third term, virtually thinking of an heir to the throne in his brother. Well, in the post-Jasmine and Jan/25/11 revolts, this scenario is a passé joke in the Arab world. Some saw that as a move to be remembered as an Algerian Zae’em (leader).
Algerian people hold the system in contempt, not President Bouteflika. They are conscious of the fact that it is not going to change, since it has been like this for five decades. They know that face-lifts and hair-dyes work very well for the Arab leaders as they do for their institutions. Indeed, Algerians are happy for Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans, Yemenis, Bahrainis and the rest who will follow, even though they realize it is only a Tunisiami and not too much of a political tsunami after all. Tunisians and Algerians alike are still opting for el-Harga (illegally crossing to the northern bank of the Mediterranean) and skipping el-Hogra (economic injustice) looking for a better life.
This is why the Arab political tsunami waves burst on Algiers’ beaches like a tide.
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