Friday, December 18, 2009

An Open letter to Barack Obama from Algeria Alert International-Norway

December 18, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500.

Dear Mr. President,

On behalf of the members of Algeria Alert International – Norway, we would like to extend our congratulations to your Excellency on winning the Nobel Peace Prize, and to all those who are acting to make the world a better place to live.

Taking advantage of your visit to Oslo, so brief in time yet accompanied by a tremendous speech announcing your pragmatically-driven foreign policy and morally-enlightened diplomacy. It is such words as “The promotion of Human Rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy” that pushed Algeria Alert International to address your Excellency, in line with its scope of supporting the cause and spreading the words and stories of those who felt betrayed by the Algerian government.

Excellency, in the course of your Oslo Address you stated that “we cannot accept a world in which more people are denied opportunity and dignity that all people yearn for – the ability to get an education and make a decent living; the security that you won’t have to live in fear of disease or violence without hope for future”. And so does Algeria Alert International denounce the political discourse aiming at discrediting Human Rights and their defenders across Algeria. In attempting to do such, our organization trusts that supporting human rights across the Algerian society is both a patriotic and sensitive demarche.

According to your Oslo speech, three ways the world can try to build a “just and lasting peace”, and one of them is “to protect the inherent rights and dignity of all peoples”. In Algeria Alert International our credo is supporting victims of depravation and oppression; revealing and denouncing the Algerian Military’s systematic policies which have led to the impoverishment of the majority and the boosting of extremism and political violence. The lack of political changes in Algeria coupled with miserable living conditions of the average Algerian, are bound to inflate recruitment for AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) among sections of disillusioned Algerian people.

Excellency, it is not a coincidence that the recent surge of Armed Groups’ activities in Algeria came in the aftermath of the embarrassing Presidential election prolonging the suffocating and corrupt “reign” of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for another 5-year term. The ineptitude of the Algerian security forces to protect citizens is no accident, but a conspiracy against the Algerian people to keep the Military relevant and “needed”. Wasn’t the electoral platform (used by the Military to back Bouteflika during his 2009 campaign) : “Algerians need Bouteflika to keep peace and order”.

Since the 1990’s, there has been a bloody chapter of a bungled war being seemingly fought on terror across Algeria, while the country is plagued with political violence whose end looks still elusive. In the last few months, AQIM has claimed responsibility for a number of high profile attacks in several countries in the Sahel region. But, with such hits especially in Algeria, AQIM is more operational than ever.

Faced with this recent surge of political violence that accumulated with ever more alarming bomb attacks in areas reported by the Algerian Army as being safe and “cleansed”, is a signal that AQIM is active in several regions and can strike at will and ease simultaneously and lethally throughout the Algerian heartland. And as long as some elements of the Algerian Army are financially “benefiting” from the chaos, innocent Algerians will keep paying the price.

In your Oslo Address you stated that due respect and implementation of law does empower and reward firstly those who comply with it. Yet, in Algeria, and unlike other Southern countries (namely South Africa, Morocco and Chile) which established successful “truth commissions”, no genuine process of transitional justice has been launched. Instead, the Algerian police started last September distributing door-to-door “official death certificates” to wash by force the government’s hands off any legal responsibility of the horrendous crimes perpetrated during a ten-year bloody internal war whose unresolved human rights consequences still linger today. More alarmingly, these Sate-imposed “death certificates” have been delivered under threat and clear abuse of law.

It is common knowledge that hydrocarbon products count for roughly 97% of Algeria’s exports and 70% of its fiscal revenues; however the social tension in Algeria is on the verge of explosion and popular discontent that started last summer continues. Algeria is the third largest producer of gas with billions of dollars in oil revenues, but a blatant case of governmental incompetence is to have gas-rich Algeria suffer from gas and electricity cuts. Algeria’s billion dollars-oil bonanza is being openly mismanaged at a time when Algerian citizens are crippled in countless underdevelopment problems. Algerians live in a country sitting on one of the largest reserves of hydrocarbons in the world, but their politicians cannot come up with sound economic policies to address structural deficiencies and handle the country’s structural imbalances which have only worsened and the powder keg can explode anytime.

Mr. President, the advent of terrorism on the Algerian already volatile political scene and its sporadic touches upon the rest of North Africa, can never be dismantled in the absence of exhortation and implementation of a painstaking diplomatic stance in the face of the Algerian regime, in order first to install democracy in Algeria and endeavour for an integrated Mahrebian economic space.

President of Algeria Alert International


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