Links for 10.22.09

Corruption au Maghreb: Mode d’emploi | On corruption in the Maghreb, especially Algeria. ✪ Algeria-Watch: Diar Echems ne décolère pas | If you're interested in following the recent social unrest in Algiers, Algeria-Watch is the place to do it. ✪ Tunisie: une journaliste du "Monde" refoulée à l'aéroport de Tunis | Le Monde's Florence Beaugé barred from entering Tunisia after critical reporting and ahead of presidential elections on Oct. 25. ✪ Abu Khaldoun | New blog on things Middle Eastern. ✪ Le Figaro: Alger sur une poudrière | Riots in poor area of Algiers highlight undertow of social tensions. ✪ EgyptAir guards thwart attempted hijacking of flight from Istanbul to Cairo; suspect arrested - WGN |
A Sudanese man used a plastic knife from the in-flight meal to threaten flight attendants after the plane left Turkish airspace and demanded that the flight be diverted to Jerusalem, the official said. Guards on the flight were able to detain the man and no one was hurt, he said. The flight landed safely at Cairo airport. The man was arrested and was being questioned by state security, the official said. The Boeing aircraft was carrying 87 passengers, a Cairo police official said. He identified the suspect as Mohammed Hamad Nourain, 26, and said he used a passport with a phony name to board the flight. The man told flight attendants he wanted to "liberate Jerusalem," the police official said.
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Links for 10.13.09

Essay - The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate - NYTimes.com | Speaking of the Large Hadron Collider, this is pretty cool. ✪ BBC NEWS | Europe | 'Al-Qaeda-link' Cern worker held | Terrorist attack of potentially cosmic proportions: "The suspect had been working on the LHC Beauty (LHCb) experiment, which is investigating the slight differences between matter and anti-matter by studying a type of particle called the "beauty quark"." ✪ Kurdistan Halts Oil Exports - NYTimes.com | Over payment dispute with central government. ✪ AFP: Hamas claims member tortured to death in Egypt jail | In other words, a Hamas member is treated like an Egyptian. ✪ Erotic Poet Cavafy’s Trace Fades in Egypt’s Mythic Alexandria - Bloomberg.com | The usual nostalgia for cosmopolitan Alexandria. Do visit the Cavafy museum when in Alex, though. ✪ Loonwatch.com - "The Mooslims, they're heeere!" | A newish website that tracks Islamophobia, with a particular lookout for the kind of people who write for Middle East Forum and other reflexively anti-Muslim, anti-Arab sites. ✪ Middle East: a Belgian solution? | Khaled Diab | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk | This is a funny, surreal headline but Khaled Diab is very misinformed about Belgian politics: the Belgian model is not pragmatic compromise, but rather wasteful deadlock. ✪ Ben Barka: Le dossier secret de la gendarmerie - affaire ben barka - leJDD.fr | Ben Barka's body said to have been incinerated outside of Paris. ✪ Tariq Ali: Ahmed Rashid's War | Nasty attack on Ahmed Rashid by Tariq Ali. Don't know if any of this is true, but Ali alleged Rashid operates on behalf of Hamid Karzai. ✪ Middle East News | Egypt detains 24 Muslim Brotherhood members | More zero-tolerance in Egypt towards people protesting in solidarity with Palestinians. ✪ Algerian Islamists in the Era of Reconciliation « The Moor Next Door | On the Algerian branch of the Muslim Brothers, and their relationship with the regime. ✪ New Statesman - Textbook injustice in Gaza | Gazan children go back to school with few textbooks, and anything else for that matter. ✪ FT.com / UK - Airline flies on natural gas | Qatar experiments with natural gas-derived kerosene, which makes sense for the country with the world's biggest gas fields. ✪ Netanyahu: No war crimes trials for Israelis - Yahoo! News | One day there will be many trials ya Bibi... and until then Israeli officials will be less and less able to travel abroad. ✪ Palestinian Memo says Hopes in Obama 'Evaporated' Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | "JERUSALEM, (AP) – An internal document circulated among members of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' political party says all hopes placed in the Obama administration "have evaporated" because of alleged White House backtracking on key issues to the Palestinians."
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Links for 09.21.09 to 09.22.09

Ethnic Ashkenazim Against Zionist Israel: In Re: The persistence of the Massad question | The campaign against Joseph Massad starts anew. ✪ Why Algeria’s Jihadist defectors don’t matter « Maghreb Politics Review | On Maghteb jihadists' recantations, focusing on Algeria. ✪ Sirgo’s Labyrinth | New English-language Egypt-based blog. ✪ The Next Minister Of Culture Will Be… | Potential candidates to succeed Farouq Hosni as Egyptian Minister of Culture: enter Gamal Mubarak's electoral strategist, Muhammad Kamal. ✪ The NDP synagogue | On a Jewish temple in Heliopolis being used as ruling party office. ✪ feeling more hate in Jerusalem | More insane views on Obama from Israelis.
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Links for 09.17.09 to 09.19.09

A few day's worth...

Orientalism’s Wake: The Ongoing Politics of a Polemic | Very nice collection of essays on Edward Said's "Orientalism" from a variety of supporters, critics, academics including Daniel Varisco, Robert Irwin, Roger Owen, etc.
The Sources of Islamic Revolutionary Conduct | I have not read in detail this small book by a US Air Force analyst, but scanning through it I see rather odd choices. For instance there are long chapters comparing Christianity and modern secularism to the Islamist outlook, except that it's never quite clear whether the latter means the outlook of engaged Islamist activists or ordinary Muslims. There is also copious quoting from Sayyid Qutb's "Milestones" as if it was representative of all Islamic thinking. Someone should give this a detailed look (and I'd be happy to post the result.) [PDF]
Al-Ahram Weekly | Egypt | A clean break | On Cairo's garbage collection crisis.
Irving Kristol, Godfather of Conservatism, Dies - Obituary (Obit) - NYTimes.com | Leaving behind a disastrous intellectual, social, economic and political legacy: alleged liberalism on social issues that shirks from real change, supply-side economics, and of course an imperial war doctrine.
Are Morocco And Algeria Gearing Up For Arms Race? « A Moroccan About the world around him
Big mouth - The National Newspaper | Bernard Heykal on how the strength of al-Qaeda is impossible. Which makes sense, at least if you try to do it from the Bin Laden tapes as all the silly pseudo-analysis of last week showed.
Ikhwanweb :: The Muslim Brotherhood Official English Website | Very much like the new look of the Muslim Brothers' English website, which I hadn't checked in a while. They have a very useful "today's news" feature that can also be used for archives by date.
Al-Ahram Weekly | Economy | Depleting Egypt's reserves | A good article with details on the Egypt-Israel gas deal and why it may be a bad idea in terms of resource management, never mind political and financial sense.
Al-Qaradawi's Fatwa Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | The alleged liberal paid by intolerant Islamists in Riyadh attacks the alleged moderate Islamist paid by Doha:

A news item reported in the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper revealed that Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi had issued a fatwa prohibiting Iraqis from acquiring US citizenship on the grounds that this is the nationality of an occupier nation. However this fatwa has nothing to do with the reality on the ground, and contains more political absurdity then it does religious guidance. Sheikh al-Qaradawi himself is an Egyptian who possesses Qatari nationality, which was given to him after he opposed the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. However when an Israeli office was opened in Doha, al-Qaradawi did not renounce his Qatari nationality.

Freed Iraqi shoe thrower tells of torture in jail | World news | guardian.co.uk

| "His brother Uday told Reuters: "Thanks be to God that Muntazer has seen the light of day. I wish Bush could see our happiness. When President Bush looks back and turns the pages of his life, he will see the shoes of Muntazer al-Zaidi on every page.""
BAE to axe 1,100 jobs and close site | Business | guardian.co.uk | So Tony Blair quashed the Yamama inquiry to save jobs (or so he says) but BAe still carries out layoffs?
Seinfeld, Sacha Baron Cohen and Natalie Portman slam Toronto Film Festival protest - Haaretz - Israel News| Some stars come to Israel's side in the tiff over TIFF.
GDC | Economist Conferences| Economist infographic shows public debt around the world.
FT.com / Middle East / Politics & Society - Investors seek to revive faded glory of Cairo | On investment in Downtown Cairo properties and plans for gentrification. Look out for another article on this soon.
No concrete proof that Iran has or has had nuclear programme – UN atomic watchdog | Just a reminder that the press reports have spinned things wrongly - this comes straight from the UN: "17 September 2009 – Refuting a recent media report, the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today reiterated that the body has no concrete proof that Iran has or has ever had a nuclear weapons programme."
Egypt Islamic Authority Says Women Can Wear Trousers - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News - FOXNews.com | The world is going to hell -- what next, capris?
BBC NEWS | Middle East | 'Many killed' in Yemen air raid | Serious turn in Yemen's trouble -- bombing a refugee camp!?


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Oh Brother, Can You Spare an F-16

How the Middle East is providing recession protection for government-connected US weapons manufacturers:
WASHINGTON — Despite a recession that knocked down global arms sales last year, the United States expanded its role as the world’s leading weapons supplier, increasing its share to more than two-thirds of all foreign armaments deals, according to a new Congressional study. The United States signed weapons agreements valued at $37.8 billion in 2008, or 68.4 percent of all business in the global arms bazaar, up significantly from American sales of $25.4 billion the year before.\\ ... The increase in American weapons sales around the world “was attributable not only to major new orders from clients in the Near East and in Asia, but also to the continuation of significant equipment and support services contracts with a broad-based number of U.S. clients globally,” according to the study, titled “Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations.”
Note that it's not just Middle Easterners paying out of pocket for this, but also the American taxpayer who is underwriting some of these purchases in form of military aid designed to redirect US funding to those arms manufacturers. This is not just a question of US jobs in this sector, since many of these manufacturers collaborate with foreign firms, and of course their profits are shared among their global shareholders, not just American ones. And it's not just oil-rich states. The article adds:
The top buyers in the developing world in 2008 were the United Arab Emirates, which signed $9.7 billion in arms deals; Saudi Arabia, which signed $8.7 billion in weapons agreements; and Morocco, with $5.4 billion in arms purchases.
Morocco is a relatively resource-poor state that receives considerable amounts of aid (from the West and from Gulf allies) and faces no serious conventional threat; yet it has for instance decided to get a bunch of F16s. Its regional rival is Algeria, in the context of the Western Sahara conflict, and Algeria is itself making significant purchases (especially from Russia.) The silly arms race between Algeria and Morocco, two countries that have poor rankings in UN human development reports and deep socio-economic problems, is useful all around: for Moroccan and Algerian generals, for governments selling the weapons (thus cementing alliances and dependence relationships), and of course for the companies. In this context, it's no surprise there is little genuine interest for solving the Western Sahara conflict or encouraging Moroccan-Algerian reconciliation. In the Persian Gulf, one sees not only the patterns of dependence of absolute monarchies on this recycling of petrodollars into weapondollars (here's more on the petrodollar-weapondollar coalition in the Middle East), but also the built-in interest in maintaining high threat levels and the possibility of war (for instance in talking up the possibility of an attack on Iran and its consequences).
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Links for 08.06.09 to 08.08.09

Informed Comment: Statement on Iran by Engaged Scholars | It starts: "If we speak out against the threat of force against Iran (regarding the nuclear conflict) and warn against a military strike, we cannot be silent on the use of force in Iran itself against its own civil society. For solidarity with the civil society and a peaceful order in the region constitute the primary concern of our efforts. If we condemn foreign sanctions against the Iranian people, we deplore all the more domestic sanctions directed at peaceful demonstrators, journalists, trade unionists, professors, students and others. Thereby the government deprives itself from the domestic basis needed against foreign threats." Sex and the Saudi: one man riles a nation - Middle East, World - The Independent | "In this ultra-conservative kingdom, where husbands and wives rarely even kiss in public, many Saudis have been scandalised by a compatriot who spoke frankly about sex on satellite TV, showing off erotic toys and fantasising about joining the mile-high club." The silly man might now be lashed. Wily Walid | Walid Jumblatt, after saying he might leave M14, says he just thinks it should change its slogans. Is there anything more to M14 (or M8 for that matter) than slogans? In any case too many people focus on the significance of Jumblatt leaving. He was probably renegotiating his participation in M14 without really intending to leave, and was trying to raise his price. ‘Atlantic’ concedes the groundbreaking impact of a piece it killed | Good post on The Atlantic miserably dishonest coverage of the Israel/Palestine issue. Le Quotidien d’Algérie, le journal de l’éveil algérien - De violents affrontements entre Chinois et Algériens à Bab Ezzouar | Riots between Chinese laborers and Algerians. Popularity contest - The National Newspaper | On the false hope that Iran's political turmoil will change Arab public opinion about resistance.
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Links for 08.04.09

AFP: Maroc : Mohammed VI très populaire, selon un sondage interdit dans son pays | Great headline - "Morocco: Muhammad VI very popular, according to poll banned in his country." FT.com / Middle East / Economy - Egypt’s cotton kingdom cut down to size | Good story on Egyptian textile industry: "Egypt is likely this year to produce its smallest cotton crop in a century." FT.com / Comment / Editorial - The cost of Arab peace concessions | Bravo FT: "In 1992-96, at the height of the peace process, Israel reaped a peace dividend without concluding a peace. Diplomatic recognition of Israel doubled, from 85 to 161 countries, exports doubled and foreign investment increased sixfold. Per capita income in the occupied territories fell in the same period by more than a third, while the number of settlers expanded by half. A broad-looking avenue led quickly to a road-block. The Arabs have not forgotten, and Mr Obama will have to get more than a settlement freeze out of Israel to lure them down that road again." Newsweek Steps Up Effort to Free Reporter in Iran - NYTimes.com | On Maziar Bahari's detention in Iran. Venezuela : Chavez suspend 34 médias d'opposition | Hugo Chavez bans 34 independent media outlets. In the Sahara, a Film Festival Complete With Camels - NYTimes.com | On a film festival in Sahrawi refugee camps. Blog: Middle East Diary | Hannah is back. Hugh Miles and CCTV Arabic | The author of a book on al-Jazeera on the new Chinese channel. 'VALIS and Later Novels,' by Philip K. Dick | VALIS, which I am now reading, enters Library of America. Someone should write a PKD-ish novel set in the Arab world. Then again, I've always found Cairo highly reminiscent of the world of Bladerunner. 10,000 Uighur disappear in China, U.S. silent | Spero News | Shocking link from Angry Arab, although I'm not sure about the source - this site has a lot of religious agit-prop. Liam Stack, Greek Club Civil War, and Developing Developments | Boi boi Liam...
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Links for 08.03.09 to 08.04.09

In the Sahara, a Film Festival Complete With Camels - NYTimes.com | On a film festival in Sahrawi refugee camps. Blog: Middle East Diary | Hannah is back. Hugh Miles and CCTV Arabic | The author of a book on al-Jazeera on the new Chinese channel. 'VALIS and Later Novels,' by Philip K. Dick | VALIS, which I am now reading, enters Library of America. Someone should write a PKD-ish novel set in the Arab world. Then again, I've always found Cairo highly reminiscent of the world of Bladerunner. 10,000 Uighur disappear in China, U.S. silent | Spero News | Shocking link from Angry Arab, although I'm not sure about the source - this site has a lot of religious agit-prop. 500 Internal Server Error | 500 Internal Server Error Liam Stack, Greek Club Civil War, and Developing Developments | Boi boi Liam...
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Links for 07.13.09

Class action at 3arabawy | Hossam's latest article, covering a strike at a QIZ factory, highlights practice of forcing workers to sign a resignation letter when hired so they can easily be fired. Maybe Ahmadinejad just likes gallopinto | The Majlis makes a good point about the huffing and puffing made by Hillary Clinton over the fact that Iran is boosting its ties with Latin American countries. Maybe if Bush hadn't let the Monroe Doctrine slip, this would have not have happened. La mafia sicilienne, colombienne et russe s’offre les services d’El Qaida au Maghreb | Algerian newspaper claims AQIM working with Moroccan, Sicilian, Russian and Colombian mafias for drug trafficking. The Dark Sahara by Jeremy Keenan [PDF] | New book by Jeremy Keenan, leading investigator of Algerian govt. involvement in "Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb." Qashtamar Rules Everything Around Me (Q.R.E.A.M.) « THE BOURSA EXCHANGE | Very funny. Britain revokes five Israeli arms export licences - Yahoo! News | Out of 182, over Gaza war. Note here that the Perfidious Albion claims humanitarian concern, as if they don't continue to export arms to other unsavory types, or that this decision did not come out of domestic pressure rather than routine humanitarian review. Israel to keep only Hebrew names on road signs (AFP) | This reminds me of the Flemish-Waloon road sign wars of Belgium - except they had the good sense to keep the English: "AFP - The Israeli transport ministry said on Monday that it will get rid of Arabic and English names for cities and towns on road signs, keeping only the Hebrew terms."
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Now for the post-election purge

Now for the post-election purge
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika preparing purge of senior military officers? This would be the final push in Boutef's remarkably successful marginalization of the rival clans that have controlled Algeria over the last two decades to put the presidency at the center of the regime. Many people might see in this a positive step for Algeria, because the in-regime competition was paralyzing. But it can't be a positive step if it merely leads to one-man rule and inheritance of power along family lines. Interesting times in Algiers... and good post at the always interesting Maghreb Politics Review.
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The Democratic Popular Kingdom of Algeria

The Democratic Popular Kingdom of Algeria
On the announcement that Said Bouteflika, brother of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, is launching a political party. Long the go-to business connection for the Boutef clan, this could mean an attempt to secure a brother-to-brother presidential succession. Yet another Arab republic goes the way of a monarchy.
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Boutef's re-election: how does he compare?

Jacob Mundy provides a richly detailed background of Abdel Aziz Bouteflika's consolidation of power in the last decade in this fine MERIP article:
Given the outcome of the 1999 elections, it was important for Bouteflika to establish an independent base of support, one that would free him from the whims of the generals who put him in power. Though Algeria’s 2002 elections recorded what was then the lowest turnout since independence, the outcome indicated the growing power of Bouteflika’s electoral machine. The FLN -- a party that had seemed moribund in the 1990s -- took 51 percent of the seats in Parliament. This surprising show of strength was repeated in October at the local level. Though Bouteflika has been officially independent from the FLN since 1999, the reconstituted FLN provided him with the foot soldiers to bring people to the ballot box. The formation of the “presidential alliance” -- a three-party coalition led by the FLN -- would later guarantee the Bouteflika camp’s total electoral hegemony. Still, Islamist parties performed well in 2002, despite severe restrictions on many candidates; the largely secular-left Berber opposition stayed true to an electoral boycott stemming from the 2001 unrest in Kabylia. As the April 2004 presidential contest approached, there were indications that elements of the security-military-intelligence apparatus were starting to see Bouteflika as a threat. Bouteflika’s Brutus stepped forward in 2003, when Prime Minister and FLN Secretary-General Ali Benflis -- none other than Bouteflika’s 1999 campaign manager -- declared his intent to run. Yet even with the FLN divided and Benflis’ candidacy supported by powerful figures in the security oligarchy, Bouteflika sailed to an impressive 85 percent margin of victory, on turnout of nearly 60 percent. Benflis, who quickly disappeared from the political scene, managed to pull in 6 percent. With his 2004 reelection, it was clear that Bouteflika had established the independent base. A growing ensemble of stakeholders, from traditionalist elements of Algerian Islam to veterans’ and war martyrs’ groups, provided Bouteflika with his own means of reaching down to the grassroots. An Algerian sociologist has provisionally termed this coalition Bouteflika’s makhzan, in reference to the patron-client networks that have allowed the Moroccan monarchy to rule for centuries. There was perhaps no greater indication of Bouteflika’s triumph than the June 2004 “retirement” of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mohammed Lamari, architect of the dirty war in the 1990s, and the 2005 posting of retired Gen. Larbi Belkhir to the embassy in Morocco. Belkhir, a key player for decades, had reportedly championed Bouteflika in 1999 in the face of the skepticism of others and subsequently ran the president’s office. Bouteflika’s new chief of staff and deputy defense minister were trusted allies. With Khaled Nezzar (mastermind of the 1992 coup) sulking in his villa, there appears to be little left of the cadre of “deciders” who allegedly manipulated events behind the scenes in the 1990s, except for long-time intelligence head Mohamed “Tewfik” Medienne, who, like the Wizard of Oz, seems to instill fear simply by staying out of the public eye. It was only after his 2004 reelection that Bouteflika fulfilled his end of the bargain with those who had put him into office. On February 27, 2006, the presidential cabinet, chaired by Bouteflika himself, used a special rule to ratify the National Peace and Reconciliation Charter while the parliament was in recess. Though the Charter had ostensibly passed a national referendum in September 2005, there were doubts as to the authenticity of turnout figures. In its final form, the law amnestied insurgents who surrendered after January 2000, including those facing criminal proceedings or held in prison, while at the same time opening a new six-month window for more insurgents to surrender. At the same time, the Charter kept the same restrictions on amnesty as the 1999 Civil Concord, but those found guilty of unprotected offenses could receive reduced sentences. For the families of the “disappeared” or those abducted by armed opposition groups, death certificates could be issued once all investigations had been completed. Perhaps the most important aspect of the Charter was that, for the first time, the government extended full immunity to the security and military forces, including civilian militias. Merely to criticize the actions of the government or its agents during the “national tragedy” of the 1990s was made a criminal act.
Mundy ends declaring:
Bouteflika’s victory is now almost total. He has conquered the generals, kept the FIS from returning in any form, staved off democratic challenges from his own party and the Kabyle Citizens’ Movement, and won the right to a third, or even fourth, term. The challenges he faces now seem almost quaint by comparison: residual political violence, high unemployment, widespread disillusionment with government and the state’s near total dependence on hydrocarbons.
Well perhaps Algeria has not made this transition from military oligarchy to dictatorship, it's successfully used an old-generation figure to pass control over to a new generation of oligarchs. And the problem with such coalitions around a transitional figure is that they might very easily collapse with his passing. In the meantime this Algerian election was profoundly depressing when you consider what a regression it constitutes. I am inspired by the Moroccan blogger Larbi to tally up the top five most "popular" Arab presidents: - At number one, like his father unrivaled, Bashar al-Assad at 97% but only in power for a mere nine years (re-elected 29 May 2007). - At number two, the indefatigable Zein al-Abideen Ben Ali with 94.49%, still going strong after 22 years. Like Bouteflika, he had to amend the constititution to be able to run again (re-elected 24 October 2004). - Slipping in at third position, the hero of the hour, Abdel Aziz Bouteflika who managed an impressive 90.24% and quite a strong show for an election many were boycotting. Thus he singlehandedly reestablishes Boumediennism. - Our very own Hosni Mubarak wins for longevity (28 years!) but has been slipping in the ranks lately, only achieving 88.5% in the last election (which, mind you, was the first to include other candidates) on 9 September 2005. Better luck in 2012 ya Hosni! - Finally it's Yemen's Ali Abdullah Salah with a measly 77.2% (re-elected 22 September 2006). Let's hope he tries harder next time. There's been a lot of movement in this race since the uncontested champion for most of the 1980s and 1990s, the late lamented Saddam Hussein, gave up his presidency. Will there ever be another like him, who against all odds is perhaps the world's only politician to win 100% of the vote in a presidential election?
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Boutef 4 Life

MERIP has a piece on the upcoming Algerian presidential elections, highlighting that now, across North Africa, rulers are in place for life: Middle East Report Online: Introducing Algeria’s President-for-Life by Ahmed Aghrout and Yahia H. Zoubir:
"Until recently, Algeria was the North African exception -- Article 74 of its 1996 constitution set two five-year terms as the limit on the mandate of a given president. On November 12, 2008, however, the parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve several constitutional amendments, the most important of which removed the stipulations of Article 74. This far-reaching amendment opened the way for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to run for a third successive term, as he will do on April 9, despite his poor health and controversial performance. Algerians are convinced that, as in Tunisia or Egypt, the result of this election is a foregone conclusion. Like Qaddafi, Bouteflika and his supporters have grounded their campaign for constitutional revision in notions of popular sovereignty. Because Algerians have elected Bouteflika twice, the regime’s story goes, they should not be hindered by a mere piece of paper like the constitution from keeping him around for life. Like its North African counterparts, the Algerian regime claims that it has jump-started economic development so remarkable that the people insist they remain in office to complete the task. Meanwhile, the removal of term limits has ended any semblance of constitutional checks and balances in Algeria."
Amidst massive apathy and rejection of this sham electoral process, Bouteflika has an interest in getting as high a turnout as possible to legitimize his continued rule as "the people's will." He recently plumbed new depths, as Le Quotidien d'Algerie reports, by urging the masses to get out the vote and "make him blush in front of the foreigners":
Hier, lors de son meeting de guelma, le président-candidat-président Bouteflika a exhorté la population à voter massivement et à le faire rougir devant l’opinion internationale. Oui, oui! Il a dit exactement ceci: ” Faites moi rougir le visage devant les étrangers en allant voter en masse!” En fait, le terme “hamrouli wadjhi” dans notre parler algérien signifie exactement le contraire de sa traduction en français. “Faites-moi rougir le visage”, en derdja, veut dire faites moi rougir de plaisir, c’est à dire ne m’humiliez pas en boycottant ce vote, plébiscitez moi! Mais au délà de ces nuances de langage, nous découvrons, si nous ne le savions déjà, que tout ce qui compte pour Bouteflika et le régime qui l’a béni, est l’opinion que se font de lui les opinions internationales. Le peuple algérien est le dernier de ses soucis. Une vraie république couscoussière!
My translation:
Yesterday, during his rally in Guelma, the president-candidate-president Bouteflika urged the populace to vote massively and to make him blush in front of international public opinion. Yes, yes! He said this exactly: "Make my face blush in front of the foreigners by going to vote in numbers!" In fact, the term hamrouli wadjhi in our Algerian dialect signifies exactly the opposite as the French expression. "Make my face blush" in Derdja (dialect) means "make me blush with pleasure," that is, "do not humiliate me by boycotting this election, but rather elect me by an overwhelming majority." Beyond the nuances of this discourse, we discover - we knew already - that the only thing that counts for Bouteflika and the regime that has backed him is international opinion. The Algerian people are the least of his worries. [We are] a couscous republic!
Who will rid us of these decrepit old men...
bouteflika1.jpg.jpeg
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Links February 17th to February 19th

Links for February 17th through February 19th:

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Links December 19th and January 5th

Automatically posted links for December 19th through January 5th:

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Del.icio.us links for November 23rd

Automatically posted links for November 23rd:

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Del.icio.us links for November 19th

Automatically posted links for November 19th:
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El Gusto: Algerian chaabi masters regroup

Damon Albarn (of Britpop bands Blur and Gorillaz fame) is producing a kind of Buena Vista Social Club album, instead of Cuban masters you have Algerian chaabi masters: Once more, with El Gusto.
Luc Cherki is a big man. Carrying his guitar, he approaches the microphone with the swagger of Johnny Cash and sings a folk ballad about the dispossessed worthy of the Man in Black that elicits whoops of recognition from his audience. But this is Marseilles, not San Quentin, and Cherki is French. His song, Je suis un pied-noir, tells of having to leave Algeria for France 45 years ago, thus becoming an emigré in his own country. Accompanying him are the El Gusto Orchestra, veterans of Algerian music’s postwar golden age, when the sound of chaabi united the streets. When the war of independence (1954-62) tore apart the French colony it ripped the heart out of the musical community. For many of those onstage in Marseilles El Gusto is the first time they have seen each other in 45 years. Now the old friends’ schedules includes a film, a tour by the orchestra, which reaches the Barbican in London on October 10 as part of its annual Ramadan Nights season, and an album, produced by Damon Albarn and released on his label, Honest Jons. “I didn’t know chaabi before I became involved,” Albarn admits. “But after I got the call asking me to contribute to this project I made sure I was well-versed before I got here. Then all I needed to do was to put microphones in the right places and try to capture the rawness of the music. I just told them they were the maestros and let them get on with it.”
Concerts in London and Paris for those lucky enough to make it, and the album of the recording will come out on October 15. Also see this story in Le Monde.
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Al Qaeda in the Maghreb recruits among teenagers

Le Monde.fr : En Algérie, des adolescents sont les proies des recruteurs d'Al-Qaida:
Treize adolescents algériens ont été condamnés le 23 septembre à trois ans de prison avec sursis pour avoir entretenu des contacts avec Al-Qaida au Maghreb islamique, l'ex-Groupe salafiste pour la prédication et le combat (GSPC). Un suivi psychologique a été ordonné, et leurs parents se sont engagés à les surveiller de près. Arrêtés en juin à Thénia, dans la préfecture de Boumerdès, région où le groupe islamiste armé est très actif, trois d'entre eux avaient été placés sous mandat de dépôt alors que les dix autres, des collégiens âgés entre 14 et 16 ans, avaient été laissés en liberté provisoire. Selon la police, ces jeunes avaient commencé à recevoir, dans les maquis environnants, des entraînements au maniement des armes et au transport de bombes. Certains avaient été gratifiés de noms de guerre. Des disques compacts avec des cours d'entraînement au combat avaient été découverts à leur domicile.
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