The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Algeria's protests #fev12

Algeria's protests seem to me — admittedly from a distance — too un-spontaneous to be successful. The very idea of holding weekly protests suggests a successful detournement of the enthusiasm for a protest and that it is being controlled into a manageable form, for the benefit of the political forces behind it and, perhaps, as yet another pawn in the long game of chess between rival factions in the regime. The real danger is more likely to come from one of the spontaneous and violent uprisings we've seen in poorer neighborhoods in the last few years. I also think this regime would have no qualms with carrying out a brutal suppression — people know this, and hence the "wall of fear" has not been broken as it was in Egypt and Tunisia.

The invaluable Moor Next Door writes:

At the same time, while many Algerians are fed up with the political and economic situation in their country, there is a significant continent fearful of sudden political transitions and mass movements recalling the country’s bitter civil war which followed snap “democratization” after a youth uprising in 1988. This creates skepticism and hesitation among key elites and in the population at large (though among older people more than youths). The CNCD may benefit from the student protest movement, turning out tens (and more) of students for protests and sit-ins at the Presidential Palace and the Ministry of Higher Education; nurses are strike and demonstrating; farmers (see below) are threatening sit-ins at the Ministry of Agriculture (see below)¹; unemployed residents are reported to be doing the same at town halls in various parts of the country. Many of these protests are narrowly focused and can be addressed on their own terms by changing ministers or issuing or repealing decrees or the like; unless they are brought into a wider opposition narrative that links the demands of dissatisfied engineering students or farmers looking for better irrigation policy to the inadequacies and structural injustices of the regime itself, combining sectorial demands for change into something much greater.

 Check his previous updates too.