Mohsen Abdelmoumen: In your very interesting book "Le printemps arabe : une manipulation?” (The Arab Spring: A Manipulation?), you mention both the role of the U.S. administration and Qatar in the uprising. This book is one of the few to address the issue of the Arab Spring. Don't you think that we are experiencing the consequences of the Arab Spring at the moment with the instability in Libya and Iraq, and the war in Syria and Yemen, and so on?
Dr. Naoufel Brahimi El Mili: The title of my book that was rejected by the publisher was: "No Spring for the Arabs". As much as the case of Tunisia was a scenario of a spontaneous revolt, as much as the case of Libya was a planned war against Gaddafi. As always, the West does not know how to ensure an "after-sales service" of its untimely interventions in the Arab world, either directly or by putting countries like Qatar in a situation of subcontracting. Since the Arab Spring, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have established themselves as exclusive subcontractors of Western interests. They all agree to exaggerate the Iranian threat in order to give centrality to the oil monarchies. Everyone seems to forget that the Iranians, since Alexander the Great, have not won any wars but they have won all negotiations.
You have written a very important book "France-Algérie : 50 ans d’histoires secretes” (France-Algeria: 50 years of secret stories) in two volumes, a very informative and instructive book that I highly recommend to our readership. How do you explain the occult and dark relationship between France and Algeria, and the mysteries and intrigues that surround this particular relationship?
Without going into the details of the often common and sometimes conflicting interests between the two countries, the question of memory weighs on these relations. On the one hand, Algerian power until the fall of Bouteflika had no legitimacy other than that closely or remotely linked to the revolution. On the other hand, France had put the issue of the Algerian War under the carpet. Now that President Emmanuel Macron seems determined to deal with this issue, things could change. I believe that Algeria is independent from France but that France remains dependent on our country, mainly for electoral reasons. The weight of French voters of Algerian origin is far from negligible.
In your opinion, why does Algeria have a special status with France compared to other former colonies?
Independent Algeria remains a French subject. The number of conscripts, about 500,000, of French people who had done their military service during the war of liberation, affects all the families of France. Then there is the repatriated Pieds-noirs (note: French people from Algeria). Without forgetting the Harkis whose treatment by France is still a stain on the State.
The Algerian War is systematically recurring in all the debates on French television channels. In your opinion, have the French come out of their trauma caused by the War of National Liberation? The Vietnam War traumatized generations of Americans. In your opinion, isn't the Algerian War the Vietnam of France?
The Vietnam War was not a consequence of colonization, but rather that of the Cold War. Also, if I take only cinema as a criterion, the Americans exorcised the Vietnam War. This is not the case of French cinema, which treated the November 1st revolution essentially from a documentary angle.
Your book very well documented and sourced “Histoire secrète de la chute de Bouteflika” (Secret history of the Bouteflika’s fall), deciphers the historical moments of the Bouteflika's fall. In your opinion, didn't the reign of Bouteflika, with an oligarchy that decided, carry the seeds of its end for several years?
The economic model of the Algerian oligarchy could not continue. It was based on State money. In Chadli Bendjedid's time, you needed the support of a minister to do business. Under Bouteflika, to become a minister, the support of businessmen was needed. The democratic dimension was put in a blind spot.
In your opinion, wasn't Bouteflika's reign a missed opportunity for Algeria to propel itself into the ranks of emerging countries? Wasn't this reign a huge wastage for Algeria?
Bouteflika had everything to succeed: soaring oil prices and good pluviometry. However, the interest of the country was not his first concern. Because, a healthy economy would have led to a democratization of the country, thus the end of his reign. What mattered to the deposed president was his ego, which pushed him towards a presidency for life, even if it meant buying social peace and corrupting a large number of political actors.
The political vacuum for which the Bouteflika regime is responsible has led to the emergence of an organization like Rachad based abroad and financed by Qatar and Turkey. Where have the Algerian political parties gone? How do you explain the political vacuum in Algeria, a country that established a multiparty system in 1989?
Curiously, in Algeria the political vacuum is characterized by a political overflow. Nano-parties like Taj and others had no functionality other than the maintenance of the democratic illusion. The question is not whether Turkey or any other country can interfere in Algeria's affairs. It is a question of reflecting on the weaknesses of our country. A weak country can be phagocytized even by Nicaragua. However, I remain optimistic because with a new constitution which establishes a balance of powers and especially a president elected thanks to Hirak, nothing will be as before.
When we see this political coma, in your opinion, has the multiparty experience in Algeria been a success or rather a failure?
Apart from one or two exceptions, the multiparty system in Algeria was the multiplicity of single parties. It is therefore a failure. The challenge today is that of clean elections that can produce real deputies, mayors...
We have seen the regularity in the streets of the popular movement, the Hirak, since February 22, 2019. In your opinion, shouldn't this popular movement reconstruct or participate in the reconstruction of the political life of tomorrow's Algeria?
I always say that there were two Hirak. The first had a specific goal: no fifth term (note: for president Bouteflika). While the second allowed himself to be trapped in a surrealist “degagism” (note: French political neologism based on the verb "dégager" designating an attitude of insubordination advocating the dismissal of one or more political figures deemed incompetent, through voting or civil disobedience). The essential thing is to have achievable objectives for the interest of the country, whether this movement is called Hirak or political party, the question is not there. It would be necessary to outline a project of society. We will see with the new deal embodied by President Tebboune. I reiterate my optimism.
The current president has faced several problems since he took office: the Covid-19 crisis, a delicate economic situation to say the least, the underground alliance between the forces of the oligarchy and nebulous organizations such as Rachad, etc. In your opinion, what strategies can President Tebboune use to stabilize the country ruined by 20 years of Bouteflika's reign and his gangs?
It's a difficult question that I don't have to answer with "it has to be" and "there's only to". However, I think that the direction for a new Algeria is taken. I see the next referendum as a confirmation election. Scandals that affect a large number of MPs must create a new "breed" of legislators. A State governed by the rule of law is based on just laws and, above all, rigorously applied.
In your opinion, shouldn't the solution in Libya be political? Doesn't Algeria have a great role to play in the resolution of the Libyan crisis?
Algeria is the key to a political solution in Libya. On this issue, the presence of the Algerian president at the Berlin conference at the beginning of this year confirms the Algerian centrality. I dream of a UN mandate granted to Algiers to negotiate a lasting solution. The Libyan catastrophe is the result of an extensive reading of the 1973 resolution voted by the UN. Only a riparian country can have a viable project for Tripoli. There are only two capable, Egypt and Algeria. But Cairo's diplomacy is too dependent on Petro-monarchies. Whereas that of Algiers is only dictated by the protection of regional interests in the long term.
I have discussed issues related to the Algerian army and the Algerian intelligence services with various world-renowned defense and intelligence experts. All were unanimous on the efficiency of the Algerian army and the Algerian intelligence services. Why, in your opinion, is the Algerian army the permanent target of occult circles? Don't you think that if Algeria is still standing, it is thanks to its army?
The Algerian army is the backbone of the State in a more than stormy regional context. It is intimately linked to power, hence these attacks in the name of democracy. Of course, sooner or later, Algeria will be truly democratic. This requires beforehand a regional stability that only our country, under certain conditions (UN mandate for example) can achieve. But who in the West wants a truly democratic Africa?
Interview realized by Mohsen Abdelmoumen
Who is Dr. Naoufel Brahimi El Mili?
Naoufel Brahimi El Mili is an Algerian intellectual, Doctor of Political Science from the IEP of Paris. A researcher in history and a specialist in Franco-Algerian relations, he is living in France since 1982. He is the author of several books: Le printemps arabe : une manipulation ?; France-Algérie, cinquante ans d’histoires secrètes Tome 1 Tome 2; Histoire secrète de la chute de Bouteflika.
Published in American Herald Tribune September 08, 2020: https://ahtribune.com/interview/4383-naoufel-brahimi-el-mili.html