What Algeria’s military establishment should understand
It’s been a little over ten months now that the Smile Revolution in Algeria has been steadfast and thriving peacefully. The uprising has remained as vigorous as during its first day. In fact, it is stronger and wider and seems determined to achieve its goals at all costs — no matter how long it will take.
None of the manoeuvres engaged by the group of ruling generals wishing to reproduce their regime and continue sucking the people’s wealth have succeeded so far in derailing the revolution.
By investing in the streets and staying there for this long, Algerians have rediscovered their unity. Their revolution is now shielded by a new collective consciousness of resistance that continues to shatter the old guard’s attempts to sow sedition and confusion. The chief of staff and those with him failed to impose their will despite repeated threats and accusations of treason from their barracks to the peaceful protesters and despite the use of repression and indiscriminate arrests on a daily basis in order to sow fear in the hearts of demonstrators.
Not only did the chief of staff fail to stop the demonstrations and protests, but he failed to understand the radical transformation in the Algerians’ perception of the existing order. Most Algerians today are determined to proceed with their liberation until the creation of what the military establishment has denied them since the country’s independence in 1962 — a democratic regime. Chief of Staff Ahmed Gaid Salah was, and still is, part of that establishment.
The de facto ruler of Algeria today is the military establishment but its vision for Algeria seems to clash head-on with the qualitative development that has occurred at the level of the Algerian public opinion. It’s been ten months into the popular uprising and the military leadership hasn’t been able to break the popular will. It simply has not understood that it is no longer possible to return to the same situation as before February 22.
This military leadership is accustomed to using physical and moral force against a small number of hostile individuals or groups who are usually entrenched in limited geographical zones. But now the leadership is in a big dilemma as it faces a widespread national protest against its hegemony.
The presidential election that the generals are trying to shove down everyone’s throats is but a thin cover for their desperate search for some legitimacy in the person of a puppet president. Ensuring this civilian cover is in place, the military can then wipe out the people’s revolution by enacting strict security measures. The quasi majority of the people, however, is not falling for this farce scheduled for December 12.
What the chief of staff and his cohorts are ignoring is that, for the Algerian people, the issue now is a matter of liberation and self-determination and that the final rupture between the dying regime that they are trying to prop up and the thriving Algerian society has already taken place. Their arrogance and worn-out perceptions stand in the way of them realising the magnitude of the change that has taken place in the minds of Algerians and of-the-moment deep consciousness they are going through.
The crowds of demonstrators in Algiers, Tizi Ouzou and Bejaia are 100% convinced that no one could force them back to their homes and suppress their legitimate ambition to establish a civil state of law. Therefore, if the military establishment is sincere about finding a rational way out of the crisis, there is no other way but to engage in a genuine dialogue with the social forces that matter. Doing so will guarantee a smooth transition towards a new Algeria, free of hegemonic temptations. One ruled by popular will.
Does the ruling cabal realise the great danger awaiting the country if it continues to push for an outcome that is contrary to the will and aspirations of the people? And will it resort to reason in the interest of Algeria above all or continue down the path of absurdity that will lead Algeria to a second civil war?