This past week has been dominated by a further heightening of tension and distrust surrounding both: President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s proposed state visit to France; and the tensions between key factions within the regime itself. The latest news is that Tebboune’s visit to Paris will not take place this month and that it is likely to be postponed indefinitely.
In addition to further hiccups in bilateral relations, tensions between Tebboune and the Army Chief of Staff, General Saïd Chengriha, are also being blamed for the postponement.
More worrying are reports from the Presidency that Tebboune is now travelling to Russia for a 14-16 June meeting and that he will meet President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg. Now that this is going ahead, it will anger Western powers — especially the US — and will seriously damage Algeria’s international reputation.
On the domestic political front, the regime is blocked over the issue of a second mandate for President Tebboune which is opposed, not only by the army high command, but also by General Mohamed ‘Toufik’ Mediène and his pre-2015 Département du renseignement et de la Sécurité (DRS). One reason is Tebboune’s proven incapacity for the job and notably his inabilities in administration and communication.
A major feature of this impasse is Tebboune’s determination to prevent the emergence of any possible challengers to his re-election. This has been demonstrated in the last few weeks in his actions against retired General Ali Ghediri and billionaire Issad Rebrab and, this week, against former foreign minister Ramtane Lamamra, who has been banned from leaving the country.
Meanwhile, Chengriha has highlighted the risk of military engagements with Morocco this autumn. He has ordered the unprecedented deployment of well-equipped troops from other regions of Algeria to the Hammaguir region to the southwest of Béchar and close to the Moroccan frontier.
We should point out that Chengriha has always regarded Morocco as a ‘major enemy’ and has continually been at the forefront of propaganda campaigns against its neighbour. There is also a strong belief that he actually wants to take Algeria to the brink and even engage Moroccan forces. This would be to invoke a state of national military security, and thereby cement the army’s supremacy in national affairs and his own position as the country’s new strongman.This excerpt is taken from our Algeria Politics & Security weekly intelligence report. Click here to receive a free sample copy. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for subscription details.