Arab Spring: A season for witch hunting

witch_huntTwo years ago the humiliation of a street vendor in Tunisia sparked a global popular uprising, which swept across the Arab countries forcing the departure of the most vicious despots. The Arab Spring electrified the world and captured its attention for months. Egypt’s revolution of 25 of January inspired the world with the spontaneous spirit of unity and a common vision of freedom, democracy, and hope. Commentaries of media observers and world political leaders praising that spirit and its people abound. Continue reading


The Algerian University: a recipe for disaster

Albert-Einstein-007I was once invited to attend the inaugural ceremony for starting the academic year at one of Algeria’s universities, where the minister for higher education was the guest of honor. The ceremony was held in a big auditorium and, I must confess, the organization of the whole event was impeccable, well except with the minister arriving two hours late. But that was not a surprise. The first two rows were occupied by the local dignitaries: the Wali, his secretary general, the Mouhafidh of the FLN, the chief of the Daira, the chief of the Gendarmerie, Continue reading

L’Algérie entre mensonges et tromperies

bouteflika-malade_15474801Pendant la révolution américaine, le président des États Unis Thomas Jefferson écrivait dans une lettre envoyée au Colonel Smith qui travaillait secrètement sous ses ordres: “Un mensonge impudent, soutenu avec persévérance, a de merveilleux effets”. Gérer les affaires de l’État et maîtriser l’art du mensonge vont toujours de pair. C’est dire il vaut mieux éviter de mentir et, a fortiori, de faire de la politique si l’on ne maîtrise pas cet art. D’ailleurs,  la 10e Dan de cet art est de réaliser la maxime selon laquelle: “Il n’y a point d’homme qui débite et répande un mensonge avec autant de grâce que celui qui le croit”. Continue reading

Will Algiers ever be white again?

jami3 jdidLast year, I had a friend of mine from France visiting Algeria for the first time. I picked him up at Houari Boumediene airport with the plan to drive him straight to my home village. He enthusiastically insisted to first visit “Alger la Blanche” with all it offers of tourist attractions: the historical Kasbah, the prominent Grande Poste, the Square of the Martyrs, the Corniche overlooking the seaport, …etc. To tell the truth, I am not from Algiers and I have not visited these areas for a long time now. After the black decade – “la décennie noire”, Algiers is no longer as it used to be. Continue reading

Now that Democracy is paused, what is next?

Sbens-blog-photo2ince the uprise of the youths of the Tahreer Square and their victory in Jan 25, there have been a big debate within the Egyptian society about politics, power and Islam, mostly about Islam. The debate is always about Islam when it is about politics and power. It was so in Algeria in the 1990s, and is so in Tunisia too now. People rediscover the Halal and the Haram when they are debating how and who should be ruling the country.  An important part of the society in the Arab Spring countries expressed inclination for the rule of Islamic Sharia while another part is favoring a secular governance. The debate would’ve been smoother if Continue reading

Une société civile plus ‘intelligente’ pour avancer le débat

Quand Lavoisier lançait sa maxime “Rien ne se perd, rien ne se crée, tout se transforme” il ne pensait pas qu’elle pourrait s’appliquer aussi à l’instinct de survie dont le régime algérien puisait sa longévité. Pour comprendre ça, il faut observer cette nouvelle classe d’intellectuels qui occupent aujourd’hui le paysage médiatique en Algérie: Hichem Aboud, Anwar Malek, Mohand Ait Yaala, Yasmina Khadra, Mohamed Chafik Mesbah, Ahmad Adhimi, …etc. En effet, une nouvelle intelligentsia émergente est formée d’anciens cadres militaires directement ou indirectement associés aux services de renseignement. Cette intelligentsia se présente aujourd’hui, et paradoxalement, comme la partie visible de la société civile en Algérie. Continue reading

Democracy and the Arab World: Une valse à trois temps.

Mohammed MorsiSo, is Egypt’s military coup against Morsi a remake of Algeria’s interruption of the democratic process? Well! It certainly looks like it and it sounds like it. But different people will always have different opinions. For me, one to answer this question ‘objectively’, one has to determine the comparison criteria and see if they apply to both cases. For the rule of Democracy the will of the people is very important as it was for the the American people in 1783 and for the French people in 1789 and most importantly for the indigenous people of Algeria in Jul 1st, 1962 when they chose to break up from colonizing France. However, despite the efforts Continue reading