by Scander Safsaf. 10/04/2018. Algerian Freedom Alliance.
A Bicephalous Truth
By deterrence I meant benefiting from a nuclear one, and applying a form of state coercion also seen as a deterrence. The very “raison d’être” of such security apparatus, beyond the subject of submission, as I will detail later, its justification and anchoring, serve three purposes. A social and an action purpose for the internal audience along with what I would call a “pandora, doomsday” purpose for the international audience.
The Social purpose is the tip of the iceberg, typically a sort of social entanglement whose imprint is somehow visible on the civil society. This imprint forced the various civilian components to inherently accept and integrate such apparatus but to also make no case of its inner autocratic nature, by normalising and humanising this surveillance network. The guy who writes memos and fills stasi like reports about you, your practices and what you do, is the very same guy buying his bread at the same bakery, drinking his coffee where you do and taking his kids to the same school. In many cases they are very well known, recognised and living among commoners. It is of course the work of intelligence to be able to feel, comprehend and predict the social frame, but in this case, the level of penetration and above all the size and extent of this apparatus, no longer makes it a tool and an institution for information gathering, but rather, a way, a mean, to incapacitate and block the whole social chain. The social tree is invaded by a sap sucking plant, whose leaves look the same. The normal flow of any decision process is ultimately corrupted by individuals whose prime skills concern above all the perpetuation of the system. Key positions are no longer the fact of brilliant and resourceful Algerians, but few agents reporting to and not performing for the country. Agents placed at important decision bottlenecks and in such a way that the whole body is paralysed, unable to produce or even strive, but only endure as it sees its substance flowing away. At the end of the day a diminished, sick country, barely able to survive, and thinking food imports rather than growing its own garden. From time to time we will for sure witness rebellious branches trying to fight back or at least denounce such situation, and it happened countless time throughout the country during many riots, but with a regime that made a speciality of enforcing the proven divide and conquer Roman credo, by for example mounting and opposing segments of the society against each other or appealing to the usual and fallacious external threat, they finally fade off and never reach full maturity. People complains of unemployment or lack of opportunities? Not a problem, you can work as a policeman or benefit from a zero percent loan that you will never repay back. Resources are strained to the limit to maintain the civil society in a comatose state, unable to react. It is not the purpose of this paper to fully describe this security paradigm, but getting a glimpse of its nature and way of functioning is necessary to better comprehend its pervasive effects. In few words what is the action purpose of such systemic endeavour ?
The beast, as deeply hidden within the frame of the social matrix, let from time to time its back shines to light. This chunk of the iceberg below sea level is the real deal and its massive network of under activities, trafficking, influencing and finally deciding for pretty much everything was key in the evolution of this country and its rulers. The “twenty percent” guys, or I’d rather say mavericks, are at the centre of every decision process in Algeria. From the import of ladies lingerie, matches or whole ships of bananas to deciding which book should kids read in school. They represent the goal, mean and recipient of the game, which they play with no other competitors. Armed with false patriotism and singing their hearts out their allegiance to the flag, they ultimately steer and control the ship toward their interests. And the “maître mot” here or master word is collusion of interests. Let me explain. With a central spine cord made of few thousands individuals or families representing the heart of the organisation, the system pervades any conventional ideas of what is a modern intelligence agency. Loosely linked to various outer layers through a dense nervation system of collusions and cross interests, it is able to fully control the Algerian body and dictate its terms in the long run. The shape of such peripheral nervation will obviously depend of the “clan du jour” (leading clan) and current business environment (oil prices). The image could also be that of an oignon bulb (core) around which gravitate outer layers of lesser importance and expandable at will depending of the situation. The healthier the situation, the more layers we have, or in time of crisis like now, lesser but tighter layering. With a holy triptych of “baltaguis”, “mid-owners” and bosses as opposed to soldiers, ranking officers and leaders, the organisation compendium could be summarized as a vertically integrated enterprise with dependencies it manages based on a stock price. A stock of stolen wealth, diverted incomes and offshore accounts. Algerians through the years became a commodity for which they fight behind ranks and official denominations. The fact is every component of the military and civil societies were penetrated, locked down by a dense network of informants, influencers and hitmen. Among institutions with a vital importance for the organisation are the law system and its enforcement, the military institution and the blood vein of them all, the national oil company.
Starting with law, facts speak for themselves. How will you qualify an institution who couldn’t handle the killings of a president and several senior officers. How will you deal with a pillar of the republic that allowed the massive transfer and theft of funds to foreign entities, allowed countless corruption cases to go unpunished. Not that i want to put every judge, lawyer or law enforcement officer in the same bag and say they’re all corrupt, most of them are not, but we’re clearly facing a two tier system, where commoners get the stick and members of the “famiglia” smile at will.
Talking about the army, I would like to clarify things from the start by drawing a line between what is an active duty, classic, conventional, normal fighting force and a web of so called militaries mainly involved in the cleaning business. There is absolutely no way we could put in the same bag the jarhead struggling to maintain borders in the south and some local baron on top of an intricate network of informants and hitmen. One is clearly military, the other not. That said, a closer look to how this military is framed is necessary to understand the level of penetration. The story is all about a parallel system duplicating every vital nod. Every visible, apparent ranking position is automatically duplicated if the concerned individual can’t be flipped or controlled. For every general holding a region exists a political officer, so to speak, in charge of the division, regiment or unit under him. For that he can count on an extensive meshing of private soldiers and sub officers often sharing the same regional tie and origins. Such regionalism and clanic division is fundamental to the strength of the structure as a whole and denote a behaviour more relevant to mob organisations than modern militaries. Overall from bottom to top the edifice is sort of pyramidal with three or four generals and their families sitting on top. Each region, sensibility is represented by a semi independent barony, often also in charge of a specific civilian sector. This apparent vertical organisation possess a certain amount of flexibility in that it is more of a moving Lego compendium where each piece can be easily replaced. No component is essential and hence rather illusionary to think the head of the snake can be cut just like that. It’s a whole chamber full of it that you’ll need to burn down in order to defeat such system, but this is another discussion (see paper « le cas tango »).
Submission to what has been the most important tool, trump card for the Algerian regime over the past 60 years: A voice, a veto at the UN security council. A veto that is guaranteeing the long term interest of the nomenklatura, protecting its main actors, providing a lifeline despite the massive crimes committed, despite the obvious failure in developing the country and ensuring a stable prospect for its people.
This UN voice came into shape in several occasions, to defend or engage topics such as Western Sahara, which will see is central to the current situation in Algeria, or topics englobing fight against terror, the horse battle and continuous justification of the so called security elites. And this voice, this intermediary meant to raise and defend the partner’s interests, comes with a cost, a hefty one, namely the submission to and alignment to a foreign entity interests. Hence the massive arm inventories, the hundreds of millions spent every year to maintain this gigantic arsenal and the intense active reciprocal commitments of both’s countries security forces. It is by no mean an allegory to say that both intelligence microcosms are deeply entrenched, aiming at the same goals, each one in charge of other’s priorities in its area of dominance. We can say without hesitations that because of this impregnato, Algeria has somehow the contractual obligation to use, purchase, engage and give access to Russian built weapons and other security devices. Army Officers certainly tried in the past to disengage the country from this blood sucking relation, but the leverage against them with such a partner is certainly way too strong. And the leverage is one of the oldest conflict on the planet, a conflict where Algeria is deeply involved, where it already put tremendous resources, played its reputation and engaged the future of hundred of thousands of commoners.