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Disinformation Is Second Nature Of Official Algeria – OpEd

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Official Algeria still lives in the Soviet era culture: deceit, lies, disinformation, fake news, bashing of opposition, etc. It cannot be up front and truthful for fear to lose the projected false image it has of itself and its mythical grandeur. Consequently, the people at large suffer and when they go out into the street in the form of hirak, suffer even more at the hands of the state police and other security forces as stated by Amnesty International.(1)

Official Algeria “elected” a soviet-type president who in turn devised a soviet-type constitution that was snubbed by the people but passed by the authoritarian regime. After being ruled for years by the incapacitated president chosen by the true power behind the throne i.e. the army: Bouteflika and made to quit at the height of the street protests. The army, yet again, handpicked another elderly but docile president: Tebboune who is in turn incapacitated by the pandemic and is in a German hospital for treatment.(2)

Tradition of rigging and fraud

The referendum to approve the new constitution held on November 1, 2020, the anniversary of the outbreak of the war of liberation in 1954, was held in accordance with a tradition of rigging and fraud inherited from the colonial period and strictly observed by the regime. If they had wanted to show how little importance they attach to the most significant date in Algeria’s history, the decision-makers could not have done worse. The response of Algerians was scathing, clear and unambiguous: popular participation has reached a low point. According to credible observers, it concerned at most a little more than 10% of the electorate. 

Concerning this point, Le Monde writes in its editorial (3):

“Electoral fiasco but potential good news for democracy. The assessment of the constitutional referendum organized on Sunday, November 1 in Algeria is a result of this paradox. For a breathless regime that hoped to re-legitimize itself, the massive boycott of voters is a slap in the face.

The crying absence of the people shows better than many analyses the permanence and the anchoring of a popular movement that the regime and its supporters present very prematurely as outdated. The fact is, however, that this unprecedented low is indeed the electoral expression of Hirak. More than indignation or anger, Algerians have ostensibly demonstrated their abysmal political indifference to the maneuvers of another age. To make some television images of polling stations, the scriptwriters of this sad masquerade used extras, clearly soldiers dressed in civilian clothes, to simulate, very crudely, an improbable affluence … 

In this regard, Omar Benderra writes in the Paris-based electronic publication Oumma:(4)

“Constitutional impostures such as elections rigged with false representations can in no way provide the framework for settling the confrontation of two directly antagonistic logics. The only response to Hirak’s claim of principle lies in the lifting of the laws of exception and the revocation of the liberticidal devices that block political life. It is in the space of free debate that popular creativity will define, in wisdom and reason but in urgency, the ways and means of resolving a crisis that is growing over the months and whose implications are unprecedented.

Algeria: uncontested champion of fake news

It was a veritable large-scale disinformation operation that Algeria tried to foment recently this year by inventing a document that it attributed to the Bundestag and that it erected as German doctrine on the Moroccan Sahara.

This new media ambush has been set up by “Western Sahara Resources Watch”, an outpost in Algiers that pilots, from Brussels, all the toxic lobbying and anti-Moroccan propaganda operations, benefiting from the complicity of a German MP by the name of Katja Keul, adopted daughter of Algeria, since she lived for some time in Mostaghanem, goes more often to Tindouf than to the seat of the German Parliament and serves as a drum for separatist theses in her country.

What exactly is this all about? And what is the value of this famous “Report of the Scientific Committee of the Bundestag”, vaunted as the latest revelation, the scoop of the year on the conflict fabricated by the Algiers regime around the Moroccan Sahara?

Like any parliamentary institution worthy of the name, the Bundestag has a documentation service that produces notes for internal use at the request of deputies on a topical issue, often in preparation for a visit, an intervention, a law or a motion.

The document in question was produced in March 2019 at the request of Katja Keul, known for her pro-separatist positions, and was to be used to draft a motion against Morocco, which was quickly dismissed from the circuit because of its spurious nature.

Seized on the fly by an Algerian press that gets carried away for trifling matters, this document, which is out of date and contains a subjective, biased and far-fetched analysis of the Moroccan Sahara issue, was pulled out of the rubble to make people believe in “a logical and inevitable evolution of the legal referential in the European judicial space”.

The truth is, obviously, elsewhere

The sentence is too heavy in chosen words to bluff the reader, but it is nothing more and nothing less than neuronal drivel of a dying gerontocracy at the helm of a desperate regime, because in reality the only referential in this matter is the UN doctrine, notably the parameters clearly defined in Security Council resolutions 2414, 2440, 2468, and 2494 and which enshrine the realistic, pragmatic, sustainable, and compromise-based political solution and confirm Algeria’s full and entire responsibility in maintaining the status quo and in the drama experienced by the populations sequestered on its territory, in Tindouf.

This immutable position of the UN was, moreover, reiterated during the last briefing of Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the Security Council last April. And it is this same position that is shared by the European Union. It is recorded in the “Joint Political Declaration”, adopted unanimously by member states, at the end of the 14th session of the Morocco-EU Association Council in June 2019.

This Political Declaration enshrined a “common language” between Morocco and the EU on the issue of Moroccan Sahara (5), namely support for the efforts of the UN Secretary-General to continue the political process aimed at achieving a political, just, realistic, pragmatic, lasting and mutually acceptable solution to this artificial conflict and based on compromise, in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council.

The European position is also embodied in the latest texts of agricultural, air and fisheries agreements that have expressly included the Moroccan Sahara in the national territory and cut short any expansionist fantasy of Algeria and others.

As for the position of the Bundestag, the real one. It was expressed by its President Wolfgang Schäuble during a meeting in Berlin with his Moroccan counterpart Habib El Malki and repeatedly reiterated by the representatives of the Federal Government: Germany supports the consensual political solution and supports the ongoing UN process. (6)

You can follow Professor Mohamed Chtatou on Twitter: @Ayurinu

End notes:

  1. Cf. Amnesty International. “Algeria: End repression against Hirak activists and journalists amid COVID-19, “ in  Amnesty International of April 27, 2020. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/04/algeria-end-repression-against-hirak-activists-and-journalists-amid-covid19/

“The Algerian authorities must urgently halt arbitrary prosecutions aimed at silencing Hirak activists and journalists amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said Amnesty International. The organization is calling for everyone targeted by these sham trials to be released immediately.

Between 7 March and 13 April alone, at least 20 activists were either summoned for interrogation by the police, or arrested and held in pretrial detention, or sentenced on charges stemming from their exercise of their right to freedom of speech or peaceful assembly in six cities in Algeria, according to human rights lawyers.

2.

 Cf. France 24. “Algerian President Tebboune continues hospital treatment for Covid-19 in Germany,“ in France 24 of November 11, 2O2O. https://www.france24.com/en/africa/20201103-algerian-president-tebboune-continues-hospital-treatment-for-covid-19-in-germany

Tebboune, who is 74 and a heavy smoker, “continues to receive treatment in a specialised German hospital after catching the Covid-19 illness” and is “gradually recovering”, his office said in a statement.

Algerian authorities had previously said Tebboune was in Germany for medical checks when he flew there last week, after saying people in his administration had the coronavirus.

Algeria’s President was elected less than a year ago as Algeria faced its biggest political crisis in decades with a mass protest movement demanding the entire ruling class be replaced.

Backed by the powerful military, he pushed for changes to the constitution as part of a strategy to turn the page on the unrest. But though it was approved in a referendum on Sunday, voter turnout of 23.7 percent was very low.

His absence through illness could slow Algeria’s efforts to pass economic reforms aimed at reducing the reliance on dwindling energy revenues.“

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

3.

 Cf. Le Monde. “ En Algérie, la victoire silencieuse du Hirak,“ in Le Monde of November 3, 2020. https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2020/11/03/en-algerie-la-victoire-silencieuse-du-hirak_6058312_3232.html

“Fiasco électoral mais potentielle bonne nouvelle pour la démocratie. Le bilan du référendum constitutionnel organisé dimanche 1er novembre en Algérie tient dans ce paradoxe. Pour un régime à bout de souffle qui espérait se relégitimer, le boycott massif des électeurs constitue un camouflet. “

4.

Cf. Benderra, Omar. “ Référendum en Algérie : Fraude générale et abstention massive, la résilience du Hirak,“ in Oumma of November 13, 2020. https://oumma.com/referendum-en-algerie-fraude-generale-et-abstention-massive-la-resilience-du-hirak/

“Les impostures constitutionnelles comme les élections truquées de fausses représentations ne peuvent en aucun cas fournir le cadre de règlement de la confrontation de deux logiques directement antagoniques. La seule réponse à la revendication de principe du Hirak réside dans la levée des lois d’exception et la révocation des dispositifs liberticides qui bloquent la vie politique. C’est dans l’espace du libre débat que la créativité populaire définira, dans la sagesse et la raison mais dans l’urgence, les voies et moyens de résolution d’une crise qui s’amplifie au fil des mois et dont les implications sont sans précédents. “

5.

Cf. Maroc.ma. “EU, Morocco Adopt Common Language on Sahara Issue for First Time (Mogherini), “in Maroc.ma.   http://www.maroc.ma/en/system/files/documents_actualite/eu_morocco_adopt_common_language_on_sahara_issue_for_first_time_mogherini.docx

“EU, Morocco Adopt Common Language on Sahara Issue for First Time (Mogherini)

The European Union and Morocco are adopting for the first time a common language on the Sahara issue, said, on Thursday in Brussels, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-president of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini.

“We have for the first time a common language on this issue”, she said during the joint press conference with minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, at the end of the 14th meeting of the Morocco-EU Association Council.

Responding to a journalist’s question on the EU’s stance regarding the Moroccan Sahara, Mogherini said that “having a common language is one of the most important, positive results and gives us hope for the future”.

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy referred to the EU position contained in the “joint political Declaration”, adopted unanimously by the member States at the end of the 14th meeting of the Morocco-EU Association Council.

In their joint political Declaration, a new document in the history of the EU’s relations with a neighboring country, the two sides reaffirm their support for the efforts made by the UN Secretary-General to continue the political process aiming to reach a just, realistic, pragmatic, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the Sahara issue, based on compromise and in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions, and in particular Resolution 2468 of 30 April 2019.

The EU, the Declaration underlines, “takes positive note of Morocco’s serious and credible efforts in this respect as reflected in the above-mentioned resolution and encourages all parties to pursue their commitment in a spirit of realism and compromise, in the context of arrangements consistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter”.

The EU’s new doctrine on the national question rejects any reference to “self-determination” and aligns itself with the UN position expressed in the last resolution, which favors pragmatism, realism, sustainability and a spirit of compromise.

It thus enshrines the pre-eminence of the Moroccan autonomy proposal as the most credible, realistic and viable solution to the artificial regional conflict over the Moroccan Sahara issue. “

MAP 27 June 2019 

6.  Cf. Tamba François Koundouno. “Western Sahara: Germany Supports UN-Led Political Process, “ in Morocco World News of  October 12, 2018. https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2018/10/255196/western-sahara-germany-supports-un-led-political-process/

Dr. Mohamed Chtatou

Dr. Mohamed Chtatou

Dr. Mohamed Chtatou is a Professor of education science at the university in Rabat. He is currently a political analyst with Moroccan, Gulf, French, Italian and British media on politics and culture in the Middle East, Islam and Islamism as well as terrorism. He is, also, a specialist on political Islam in the MENA region with interest in the roots of terrorism and religious extremism.

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