Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Algeria

Algeria: Demonstrations Grow Against 5th Term for Bouteflika.

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Au lendemain des manifestations du 1 mars: un peuple debout, un pouvoir

Au lendemain des manifestations du 1 mars: un peuple debout, un pouvoir groggy.

Al HuffPost Maghreb

In Algeria , while the demonstrations against a fifth term for outgoing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika have reached historic levels , at a few hours of filing applications for the supreme election (Sunday midnight local time), the presidential camp remains very discreet.

The dismissal this Saturday of the campaign manager and former Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal , replaced by the current Minister of Transport, was carried out without further explanation or comment.

No Algerian official has so far officially reacted to the massive mobilisation of Algerians on Friday across the country to oppose the prospect of a fifth term of Bouteflika, in power since 1999 , who celebrated his 82 years Saturday .

Hospitalised in Switzerland for six days , officially for “periodic medical examinations”, the return to Algeria of the head of state has still not been announced.

20 Minutes:

Algérie: Des manifestations massives mais sans réactions politiques

Le Monde:

In Algiers, a huge crowd determined to demonstrate peacefully

Hundreds of thousands of people marched Friday in the Algerian capital against a 5th term of Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

See RFI Press review: la nouvelle déferlante contre Bouteflika en Algérie

In declaring their solidarity the Ensemble alliance notes that there is a call to demonstrate today in favour of a boycott of the elections.

 dimanche, c’est le collectif « Mouwatana » (citoyenneté) qui prône le boycott de l’élection présidentielle qui a appelé à manifester.

Interview with one of the leading figures of the group in l’Humanité (Saturday) .

Capture d'écran/France 24.

ZOUBIDA ASSOUL : « LES ALGÉRIENS EXIGENT UNE RUPTURE RADICALE AVEC LE SYSTÈME BOUTEFLIKA »

More on Mouwatana: Le mouvement Mouwatana précise les lieux de ses rassemblements

Image may contain: text

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 3, 2019 at 1:19 pm

Protests in Algeria against President Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term.

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Résultat de recherche d'images pour "algerie manifestations"

No to a 5th Presidential Term for Bouteflika.

Fresh protests against fifth term for Bouteflika in Algeria

France 24 reports.

Hundreds of people demonstrated on Sunday in the Algerian capital against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term, as the ailing leader was scheduled to go to Switzerland for a medical checkup.

Police sprayed tear gas, brought in a water cannon and rounded up several people as shopkeepers pulled down their shutters, an AFP journalist said.

But turnout was much lower than on Friday when tens of thousands took to the streets including in Algiers, where demonstrations are strictly banned.

Security forces arrested more than 40 people after that protest, which saw police fire tear gas to block a march on the presidential palace, prompting demonstrators to respond with stone-throwing.

….

Bouteflika, who uses a wheelchair and has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, announced on February 10 that he will run for another term in office.

The president’s office has announced that Bouteflika will travel to Switzerland on Sunday for “routine medical checks” ahead of the April 18 presidential election.

He has had a long battle with illness and has frequently flown to France for treatment.

Bouteflika is Algeria’s longest-serving president and a veteran of its independence struggle who has clung to power since 1999 despite his ill health.

Les manifestations se multiplient en Algérie contre le pouvoir en place. “Pouvoir, Assassin”, “Il y en a marre, il y en a marre, il y en a marre de ce pouvoir” ou encore “Ni Bouteflika, Ni Saïd” chantaient les manifestants réunis dimanche à Alger.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 25, 2019 at 1:25 pm

Malia Bouattia: “Condemnation of Isis appears to have become a justification for war and blatant Islamophobia.”

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Anti-Jewish Riots and Killing in Constantine 1934.

Malia Bouattia, new President of the NUS,  stood on a radical grassroots platform and made headlines last year after opposing a motion to condemn Isis reports the Guardian.

The new president is a controversial figure among many students, coming to prominence in the national press after speaking against an NUS motion “to condemn the IS and support Kurdish forces fighting against it, while expressing no confidence or trust in the US military intervention”.

The motion failed to pass and Bouattia said she had objected to the wording, issuing her own statement expressing solidarity with the Kurds against Islamic State and condemning the group’s “brutal actions”.

“We recognise that condemnation of Isis appears to have become a justification for war and blatant Islamophobia,” she said at the time. “This rhetoric exacerbates the issue at hand and in essence is a further attack on those we aim to defend.”

Obviously this issue interests an audience on the left far wider than the student movement.

A particularly ridiculous response is offered by Lindsey German of Counterfire, who simply ignores the subject of the Kurdish fight and ISIS and states this,

Her most recent profile has been round a series of meetings opposing the government’s Prevent strategy. Her background as someone of Algerian descent gives her a first-hand knowledge of imperialism and racism. That means she understands the concerns of many of the students she will be representing.

The backlash against her has begun on day one. She will need all the support and solidarity that she can get. But today marks a victory for those who oppose war and racism. And a defeat for those who don’t.

Counterfire.

We note that anybody from an Algerian background, which saw a civil war in 1991 break out between the repressive Algiers state and violent Islamism (MIA, GIA, GSPC and the still active, AlQaïda au Maghreb islamique,  AQMI)  should express a position not just on imperialism and racism, and not only the blood-drenched Algerian military,  but on a very specific type of racism and persecution: that embodied in various forms of Islamism (Guerre civile algérienne).

This is what she says,

….describing how her family had been forced to flee civil war in Algeria when she was child .

“I know too well the price of terrorism, the consequences of racism and oppression,” said Ms Bouattia, a leading figure in the Students Not Suspects campaign against the Prevent anti-terrorism agenda.

“I saw a country ripped apart by terror and was forced into exile,” she explained, adding: “I know too well the damage done by racism and persecution.”

She explained how her university lecturer father was almost killed by a bomb and her school had been attacked by gun-wielding militia, causing her family to flee.

“I know many of you will have seen my name dragged through the mud by rightwing media, and might think I am a terrorist and my politics driven by hate,” she said, adding: “How wrong that is.”

THSS.

Bouattia comes from Constantine, Algeria. 

The city is also infamous for the French far-right Parti Social Français, PSF, and their successful efforts to incite Muslims against Algerian Jews that led to the antisemitic pogrom of 1936 (link gives another version of the causes) in which 25-34 Jews were killed and some 200 stores were pillaged. There is a long history of anti-Semitic activity in Algeria (by both pieds-noirs and Muslims) and the Vichy regime instituted official anti Jewish legislation.

In the present example 1941 around 18 to 20% of the City’s population were Jewish.

There have been no Jewish community in Constantine since the end of the Algerian war of Independence.

We would be interested to hear her views on this and more details about her – horrific – experiences in Algeria.

Indeed we would be curious  to know how the Algerian civil war was a creation of ‘imperialism’.

But it is about a contemporary Islamist movement, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria that the present controversy has erupted.

Here is the background: Report on that Motion (2014) by Daniel Lemberger Cooper

Two motions debated at NUS NEC

The meeting then turned to motions submitted by NEC members. Unfortunately this part of the meeting was no feast of reason. There are two motions I want to focus on: Iraqi solidarity and Israel/PalestineI urge you to read the motions before continuing.

The “Iraqi solidarity” motion had been worked on with Roza Salih, a Strathclyde university student of Kurdish descent (she submitted an almost identical motion to the Scottish equivalent of the executive, the Scottish Executive Council, which I will post later, which, incidentally, did pass! One must ask Scottish executive members why vote for a motion in Scotland, but not in England?!).

The motion was opposed by Malia Bouattia, the NUS Black Students’ Officer, for astonishing and bewildering reasons. Bouattia argued that the motion was “Islamophobic” and “pro USA intervention” – (see Aaron Kiely, a fellow NUS NEC member’s, tweet during the meeting as reflective of the position). The motion then fell as large numbers of NEC members either abstained or voted against (including the bulk of the political Left on NEC). I think this says a lot about the current state of the student movement.

(I must also put on record that after only a single round of speeches, Toni Pearce moved the debate on. This was wrong: there was no opportunity to respond to Bouattia’s allegations. I had my hand up to speak in response, but was not called.)

Let us look at Bouattia’s arguments: is the motion anti-Muslim or pro US intervention?

The motion was partly written by a Kurdish student activist, and presented by the International students’ officer, Shreya Paudel. I have looked again and again at the contents of the motion, yet I cannot track any Islamophobia or racism.

Pro-intervention?

The US occupation, and its aftermath, has been an utter disaster for the people of Iraq. Resulting governments, led by Nouri Al-Maliki, have been authoritarian and carried out virulent Shia sectarianism. A civil war in the mid 2000s killed 34,000 civilians. Today there are 1.6 million refugees.

The dynamics in 2014 are complex. ISIS, who have grown out of Al-Qaeda, have seized huge swathes of the country; there is a new, shaky, shia-sectarian government; and a Kurdish regional government, whose self determination I believe we should support.

The ultra-Islamist group ISIS is a threat to all the people of Iraq. It is repressing and persecuting minorities, including Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, and Sunni Muslim Arabs. On the 29th June it declared a “caliphate” (a religious dictatorship). It has carried out rape and other forms of sexual violence are being used as weapons against women in IS-occupied areas.

These developments have been exacerbated and driven by US policy deliberately fostering sectarianism.

The situation is desperate.

In this situation, it is fundamental that the political Left, trade union and student organisations, like NUS, show our solidarity with the Iraqi people, in particular the hard-pressed student, workers and women’s organisations, and those fighting for democracy and equality.

It is unclear whether Western forces (which congregated in Paris the day before the NEC meeting, on the 15th of September, to announce a “game plan” to defeat ISIS) will send boots onto the ground in Iraq. We know already that French aircrafts have begun reconnaissance flights over Iraq; and that US aid has assisted the Kurds and Yazidis. However it is unlikely they will want a re-run of a war that even they believe to have been a colossal failure. It may be more likely that the USA assists established forces from afar to defeat ISIS.

However, the motion cannot be clearer in saying that such forces cannot be relied upon to deliver democratic change in Iraq: “no confidence or trust in the US military intervention.” If one were to believe it is not sufficiently clear or that the motion is not worded strongly enough, fine: make an amendment to the motion; or seek to take parts to remove or strengthen a particular aspect. Instead, the whole motion – which calls for solidarity with oppressed forces in Iraq – was argued as wrong. This is a grave shame!

It is also true – and Left-wingers should think this over – that the Kurds and Yazidi’s thus far would not have been able to survive if it had not been for aid from the Americans. Calling simply for an end to this intervention is the same as calling for the defeat of the Peshmerga forces by ISIS. The policy is based on a negative criteria – opposing the US and UK – instead of positive criteria – solidarity with the oppressed.

Perhaps this is what Bouattia meant when saying that the motion is pro-intervention? Such a suggestion is arrived at only when one’s “analysis” becomes an issue of principle: that even within limited parameters, that to suggest that imperialism is not the only problem is somehow to “support” imperialism. This is the basis of “Stalinist” politics on international questions: that one considers forces that oppose the US as either progressive or, at worst, not the real issue -no matter how barbaric and reactionary and fascistic that force is. This is not a useful or effective way of looking at the world

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty published a short time afterwards some important qualifications about this report: Fact and fiction about the Kurdistan row in NUS.

Daniel Cooper: I objected to Malia opposing the motion on Iraq proposed by me, Shreya Paudel and Clifford Fleming, and responded to her claims that it was Islamophobic and pro-imperialist. Some people have claimed I misrepresented Malia. The only justification I have heard for this is, firstly, that I did not state that Malia condemned ISIS. That is because it was so blindingly obvious: before the right-wing attacks on Malia, the idea that anyone on NUS NEC would not condemn ISIS had not even occurred to me. And, secondly, that I failed to report that Malia offered to support a different motion on Kurdistan at the next NEC if it fitted with her politics. Whether or not I should have reported this or not, it is hardly decisive! Does anyone seriously believe that if I had stated either of these things it would have prevented right wingers distorting and making use of what I wrote?

The AWL now comment,

The controversy surrounding Bouattia’s attitudes to Islamism and to anti-semitism over the last two weeks is not simply a matter of interpreting this or that comment at a meeting, or exchange on the internet. It has deeper political roots, which we are precisely attempting to sketch out here

Last year, Bouattia denounced a left-wing motion to NUS NEC in support of the Kurdish national liberation struggle as “racist” and “imperialist” and helped get it voted down. This sparked wide criticism from Kurdish and left-wing students, but when some right wingers including in the press noticed this and tried to whip up a storm against her by absurdly and shamefully portraying her as a supporter of Daesh, she responded by whipping up a storm against the proposer of the motion, Workers’ Liberty comrade Daniel Cooper.

We remind the movement of this because we believe that Bouattia behaved like a petty and unprincipled factionalist, putting her resentment at her bad luck, her prestige and the chance to attack a political grouping she doesn’t like above the massive issue of the Kurdish struggle. Although the NEC eventually, two months later, passed a motion about Kurdistan, NUS circles spent far more time and energy on the row than on supporting the Kurds. So much for anti-imperialism!

We have little confidence that an NUS led by Malia Bouattia would be more habitable for political minorities and dissenters, more democratic or more serious about political debate and discussion than one led by Megan Dunn.

There remain a host of other  issues about the new NUS President, not least the fact that some on this left backed her.

That is a matter for students.

The Gerry Downing-Socialist Fight  style  anti-imperialism of fools which led, and justified a rejection do support for the Kurdish people in their hour of need  signals a broader problem.

The central question for a wider activist public is: what is Bouattia’s stand on Islamism?

How does she qualify, judge and assess the different Islamist movements?

If she does not support the misguided state ‘Prevent’ strategy does she offer any other way of combatting and fighting these anti-working class, anti-liberal, anti-feminist, anti-left, and violent groups?

Written by Andrew Coates

April 21, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Humour, François Hollande, and Politics.

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Francois Hollande delivering a speech during a meeting in Aulnay-sous-Bois, Paris

Likes a Larf.

French President François Hollande is known for his jokes.

David Cameron,  said that he would roll out the red carpet for French companies who did not wish to pay the 75% tax rates (for the highest earners)  the Socialist-led government had introduced.

Holland replied, “J’apprécie l’humour, et surtout l’humour britannique. Donc j’étais très heureux que l’on puisse m’offrir un tapis pour les prochains mois et les prochaines années.”

I like a joke, particularly British humour. So, I am happy that they will be able to offer me a red carpet, in the coming months, and indeed for the coming years.

There is an article, in English, on the BBC web-site, giving more details on this, appealing side, of the French President.

This time his fondness for a laugh has got Hollande in hot water.

On Monday, December 16, the 70th anniversary celebration of main French Jewish umbrella group CRIF (Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions), Hollande joked that Interior Minister Manuel Valls had returned from a trip to Algeria “safe and sound…which is saying something”.

Algerian officials were not amused.

On Saturday in Algiers, Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra told journalists that the French President’s wisecrack about France’s former colony was “a regrettable incident”.

The Algerian press was was particularly unamused by the joke. On Saturday, five days after Hollande made the comment, the front pages of Arabic-language newspapers El-Khabar, Echorouk and Ennahar featured the news. One headline read: “Hollande mocks Algeria in front of the Jews”. France 24.

Hollande should have read Claude Cockburn.

In  I Claud  (1967) Cockburn observed that humour often falls flat in diplomatic exchanges.

Beginning with De Gaulle (who liked to make, often cutting, witticisms), Cockburn then brings up the case of high European diplomacy and (if memory serves me rightly) a Renaissance example where an attempt at wit caused more serious difficulties than Hollande has, so far, encountered.

Left-wing political humour is a genre in its own right (Hollande is reported to be a master there was well).

Here too we find a regrettable tendency not to get the jest.

The SWP leadership,  despite its fame as a laughing-stock, shows an unhappy inclination to resent the honest efforts of wags, on the Internet and off it.

Words such as “slander” spring to their lips.

Even the Weekly Worker, we hear, shows a humourless school-teacher side when that august publication is subjected to mild ribaldry.

Tendance Coatesy likes funny.

And that’s that.

Protest Against Ramadan Mandatory Fasting in Algeria.

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Plus de 500 Algériens ont mangé et bu en public dans la ville "rebelle" de Tizi Ouzou.

More than  500 Algérians ate and drank in public in the “ville rebelle” of  Tizi Ouzou. © FAROUK BATICHE / AFP

Algiers 4.8.13: About 300 people in a restive northern region of Algeria joined a public lunch on Saturday during Ramadan to protest against what they say is persecution of people who refuse to observe the religious fast.

The protest lunch was highly unusual for North Africa, where people can be arrested for not fasting during the Muslim holy month.

It was held as a demonstration against the decision of security forces to question three young people who were eating outside last week last week in the Kabylie region during the 18-hour daily fasting period.

We called this gathering to denounce the inquisition and persecution of citizens who, because of their beliefs, refuse to observe the fast,” said Bouaziz Ait Chebib, head of the local Kabylie Autonomy Movement.

The Berbers of the Kabylie are known for a more secular outlook in general than Algeria’s majority Arabs, and they have had a historically tense relationship with Algeria’s government.

In previous years, Kabylie residents who refused to fast during the month of Ramadan faced charges of “acting against Islam”.

The lunch in Tizi-Ouzou, about 100 kilometres from Algiers, was not contested by either local Islamists or authorities.

Le Point adds,

A mostly young male audience, supplied with bottles of water, juice, bread, cigarettes and even beer  was addressed by the President of the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylia (MAK) , Bouaziz Ait Chebib, claimed that the Kabyles has an “ancestral attachment” to  “freedom of conscience”.

Civil society and opposition parties have denounced what they called the “creeping Islamization” of Algeria, which they say has grown with the Arab Spring, which saw the coming to power of Islamists in several countries.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 5, 2013 at 11:05 am

The Algerian Civil War and Egypt.

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Algerian Amy Does not Like Islamists.

There is a lot of comment comparing  the Algerian civil war, the  décennie noire (« guerre civile algérienne », « décennie du terrorisme », « années de braise ») with what’s happening in Egypt now.

According to the normally reliable Wikipedia, this began in 1991.

Total casualties have yet to be accurately counted but it is estimated to have cost somewhere between 44,000 and 200,000 lives, in a population of about 25,010,000 in 1990 and 31,193,917 in 2000.

No it did not begin in 1991.

I began when the Islamists began assailing and killing feminists, intellectuals, trade unionists and leftists in the late 1980s.

They assaulted unveiled women and tried to suppress ‘vice’ (drinking, immodest behaviour  and homosexuality).

It is said that they murdered the entire Algier’s section of the LCR. 

The whole process is shown in the film Bab El-Oued City (1994).

Our kith and kin, vigorously protested against the Front Islamique du Salut which was behind these attacks.

Huge demos were held in Algiers before the coup against the Islamists.

So next time somebody tells a fairy story about the ‘military’  suppressing Islamism remember our beloved North African  comrades.

They  hate the Islamists with a venom.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 6, 2013 at 11:52 am

Algerian Workers’ Party (Trotskyist) on Hostage Killings and Mali.

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Louisa Hanoune, secrétaire générale du PT. Sid-Ali/New Press

Louisa Hanoune: Algeria Must not Back France.

Left Futures has published an important and valuable article by comrade Andy Newman  on the Mali crisis. The post includes a declaration made by Louisa Hanoune. She is the leader of the Trotskyist* Parti des travailleurs, PT,  Arabic Hizb al-Ummal حزب العمال , Kabyle: Akabar Ixeddamen  (Workers Party)  in Algeria, which has 17  deputies (of which 10 are women)  in the National Assembly.

For reasons which will become obvious we give a more extended version of her  intervention.

Hanoune began by saluting the decision of Algerian authorities to deal with the  Amenas crisis on their own and laid the blame for the tragic result entirely on the shoulders of French President François Hollande (Saluant la décision des autorités algériennes d’y faire face sans aucune aide étrangère, elle fait porter le chapeau de ce «crime» à François Hollande).

She  said that the terrorist group of El Bara has reacted not specifically against the present French Mali intervention but at the wider regional French assault in the region ( il a réagi à l’attaque militaire française dans la région tout simplement). She underlined that this attack was entirely predictable but that Algeria by refusing any US or French aid in dealing with it had acted completely correctly.

Algeria, said Mme Hanoune,  is best placed  to deal with terrorism and had no reason to be lectured by another country on this  respect whatsoever (L’Algérie, estime Mme Hanoune, est la mieux placée dans la lutte contre le terrorisme et n’a pas de leçon à recevoir dans ce domaine d’aucun pays).

She added that “l’Algérie est souveraine ” and does not need to ask for permission from the US or France on how to liberate the hostages.

Louiza Hanoune (Translated by Left Futures) then stated,

Louisa Hanoune is convinced that the actions of François Hollande are the second stage of the operation initiated by NATO, including Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, which relies on ethnic conflict to plunder the riches of those regions. French imperialism is trying to awaken the demons,” she said, adding that “military intervention is a source of chaos, dislocation and looting. France to deal with its economic crisis justified its attack on the fight against terrorism in northern Mali. (This was) “a premeditated shot”… all the main actors, including terrorist groups, ECOWAS and the Malian authorities are in “the pay of France.”

She then said,

France qui traverse une crise économique œuvre pour y faire face, en justifiant son attaque par la lutte contre le terrorisme au nord du Mali. Selon elle, «le coup a été prémédité» et tous les acteurs principaux, entre autres, les groupes terroristes, les Etats de la Cédéao et les autorités maliennes sont à «la solde de la France».

France is undergoing an economic crisis, and is using this attack against terrorism in Mali as a means of dealing with it. According to her the blow was “Premeditated”, and all the principal actors – amongst whom were the terrorist groups,  the West African states economic community  (Cédéao) and the Malian authorities were in the “pay of France”.

The Secretary of the PT  called for Algerians to be wary of being caught up in this «sale guerre» (dirty war) . There would be pressure for Algeria to be involved in this war, whose only winner would be American imperialism. Louisa Hanoune ended by affirming that the Algerian state should clearly take its distance from this war (se démarquer clairement de cette guerre).

Here.

* That is ‘Lambertist’. Many Trotskyists have profound differences with this current. We should further note that the PT underwent a crisis in the last year with many party members resigning and accusing the leadership  of ‘Stalinist management’  – la gestion stalinienne – Here.)