Thursday, 17 January 2013

Chafik Mesbah Interview

In my opinion one of the most respectable academics and analysts of Algerian affairs. It's translated by Google but the ideas are easily understood and present, but if a more thorough translation is requested , i will make it happen.

Mesbah Mohamed Shafik, senior officer of the ANP retired political scientist and analyst in international relations and strategic questions, answers our questions about the current situation in northern Mali.

The military option open by France you think she an appropriate response to the current crisis in northern Mali?

It is difficult to provide a definitive answer to this question. It was clear from the outset that the phenomenon of terrorism appeared in Mali, particularly in the Sahel and in general can not be solved by a single open solutions. It was prospect, no doubt, the path of political dialogue to expand the internal national consensus against terrorism and isolate radical groups using precisely the violence. It would have been childish, however, believe that these terrorist groups would resign himself passively to a reversal against them, the balance of forces. The military solution was perspective ignored.

What is discordant with respect to the initial scheme is that France took suddenly the initiative to engage, only to meet an emergency situation characterized by the risk control all Malian territory by terrorist groups present in Northern Mali. In the original script, it was a classic approach with an international mandate from the United Nations to cover the implementation of military means. In this case, it is France's colonial past lackluster, which comes only with the complicity of Algeria against nature which may squander all its diplomatic prestige accumulated since the war of national liberation. To legitimize the French intervention, it is reported an express request by the Malian government. Frankly, Mali, failed state, would have, therefore, a legitimate government - very legitimate - able to make such a request ...

The Algeria ranks behind the French military intervention in northern Mali after the solution advocated dialogue. Can we talk of a turnaround in the Algerian position?

Level intermediate bodies in appliances diplomatic, military and security Algerian changing events can be seen as a reversal. The good faith of the officials involved in these devices is not involved. It is at the political level of the state polling is permitted. With mass exchanges between Algeria and international parties involved in the crisis in northern Mali, the assumption of military intervention was obviously included from the outset among the range of open solutions. To a large extent, senior Algerian diplomats, military and intelligence officers have been duped since all their efforts have been focused deliberately on the political crisis.

At the precise moment discussing probably the implicit agreement between Algeria and France on the French military intervention in Mali with the use of the Algerian airspace by military aircraft of the French army! What you consider to be a change, it could be a gradual adaptation of the doctrine Algerian diplomatic and defense policy of Algeria to the requirements of the new strategic context in the Maghreb and the Sahel, or the Mediterranean. It is not this type of development - in size, highly strategic - can escape the vigilant attention of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, broke all the secrets of how the system of international relations.

Algeria, under the scrutiny of the Western powers, is taking up a regional security system where it may unfortunately be embroiled with, subsequently, an inability to exercise its national sovereignty. What is happening in northern Mali resulting directly from the desire to integrate Algeria, by force if necessary, a mechanism in which it will no longer be free.

How to explain the strange deficiency that affects corporate communications since not a single Algerian Algerian official has yet eminent expressed on this turnabout?

There is a direct correlation between the Algerian position vis-à-vis the crisis in northern Mali and the moribund system of governance in Algeria. It is an open secret, diplomatic decision in Algeria is the sole determination of the President of the Republic. As everyone knows, the Minister of Foreign Affairs acts as a proxyholder. He is obliged to refer to the President of the Republic for any decision diplomatic. Its scope is non-existent and it can take initiative, proactive thinking on the strategic course of events. Which is valid for the Minister of Foreign Affairs is, a fortiori, to other senior state officials who are prohibited from interfering with the reserved area - reserved for really - the Head of State. They can not, a fortiori, communicate this register. We are far from the crisis in northern Mali. The real crisis is that the system of governance in Algeria!

What concrete impact should expect the closure, Algeria, its borders with Mali?

A reduced impact. To be honest, the border remains porous. Know that the border between Algeria and Mali stretches 1376 km. For the record, it extends over 956 km to the border that separates Algeria from Niger. In addition, the Sahel, a band homogeneous in terms of population and geography, is a state difficult to control potential. It is virtually impossible to close the Algerian border with Mali. This is certainly not a new "Berlin Wall". Indigenous peoples are accustomed to ignore plots border and terrorist groups have quickly learned from this special relief in adapting to it. You can probably imagine that Algeria could deploy a soldier every meter to make the border sealed, or Western states put into action enough drones to monitor every acre of this potential theater of operations.

As a guide, it should be noted that the deployment of border guards groupings within the Gendarmerie could never ensure neutralization of smuggling, main source of income for local people. Mobile transport available to terrorist groups and their perfect knowledge of the terrain that they make sure the ridiculous closure of the border with Mali. Observe, for instance, what happens to Amenas. This is a real Berezina. Unfortunately, Berezina that involves even the military and security apparatus in the country.

But at this point, the terrorist attack against the base oil of Amenas you think she more focused Algeria or France and its Western allies?

Both simultaneously. It is clear that France and its Western allies are now targeted by terrorist groups nebula located in the area. Algeria is also, which opened its airspace to French military aircraft, is subject to reprisals. What may be surprising in this unfortunate episode is the ease with which a terrorist attack occurred against a sensitive installation in an area not less sensitive. Appropriate steps to protect these sites Were, whether or not made? The result perplexing should encourage the government to review the security arrangements put in place in the Southern Algeria. Amenas? This is the precursor to the fire that may affect the Sahel, including the Algerian territory is its extension strategy.

Is it therefore possible to say that Algeria has failed in its efforts to impose a political solution to the crisis in Mali?

Probably. Western powers have suggested, formally, they supported the Algerian approach advocating dialogue. In fact, the Western powers have always been hard at work planning the planned military intervention. Naive or ignorant, Algerian officials thought they could play on the antagonism France-United States of America. Often they consult with their Russian counterparts or Chinese whereas the world is still in the division between socialist and capitalist blocs. Algeria has not only failed in its specific approach vis-à-vis the crisis in Mali. Algerian diplomacy is, overall, in chronic crisis with major loss of efficiency in all its actions.

The theater, itself, how could evolve in practice the situation?

The situation may change, probably to the stalemate and kindling. It is unlikely that military intervention can overcome classic of guerrilla warfare. The military has come up with two key actions. First, an action closer to local communities in order to create a form that penalizes local terrorist groups in isolation. These terrorist groups should be forced to evolve in hostile terrain. Not only because of the military above-mentioned, but because of the rejection of indigenous peoples. Second action, the impulse of economic and social development in Azawad, in general, with the implementation of a real mini-Marshall Plan. As you can see, we are far from it.

Under the new situation in northern Mali, an Algerian military intervention becomes an option for it?

Instead, this option seems unlikely. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika does not seem to be able to win the support of the military in a process that does not seem even consensual. This form of acceptance of the fait accompli by the military might have limits. It is not in the tradition of the Algerian army to intervene in theaters of operations. The Constitution prohibits it, but also the mindset inherited from the War of National Liberation. Push the Algerian army to engage in this theater of operations is the risk of causing insubordination of military leaders. It is difficult to imagine that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika can go to that extreme.

In consideration of the Algerian conciliatory position vis-à-vis France in northern Mali, which could take as profit Algeria, or if the President Abdelaziz Bouteflika?

Observers have noted, during his last visit to Algiers, the laudatory tone of President François Hollande vis-à-vis his Algerian counterpart. Conversely, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has refrained from any public during this visit, taking care not to discuss the sensitive claim of repentance. On the one hand, we have a French president stumbles to a loss of reputation in public opinion in his country where economic lobbies French show a greedy thirst to capture the Algerian market. On the other, we have a system Algerian crisis which ensures its sustainability by the indiscriminate distribution of oil revenues and support, ostentatious Western powers. French President wanted to restore his popularity and better sit his presidency's interest to conclude the agreement must be implied - as required - with his Algerian counterpart which, in turn, is essential to maintain order in office in preparing for the end of the presidential election of 2014 he wants to make a crown for his career.

Finally, how do you explain the failure of the Algerian diplomacy patented?

Firstly, it is necessary, absolutely distinguish between the failure of the Algerian diplomacy and how to use the Algerian diplomats, their motivation, their skills and experience. They are not the ones who are involved. Some are even brilliant. These are the diplomatic apparatus with its operation and the doctrinal foundations of the Algerian diplomacy that are at issue. This is not the place to spread this major crisis of the Algerian diplomacy. Suffice it to record three major aspects:
- Lack of strategic anticipation. Or inside the diplomatic apparatus, or in cooperation with public institutions involved in foreign policy, let alone with universities or academic research centers, there are no activities related to knowledge prospective events foreign policy;
- Lack of national consensus on the objectives of the foreign policy of Algeria. The Head of the State monopolizes his hands all diplomatic decisions uses his Minister of Foreign Affairs as an administrative assistant. The heads of public institutions involved in foreign policy of Algeria are not more involved in the decision making diplomatic. Personalities and political parties as well as organizations working in the trade unions are hardly consulted about policy or foreign policy decisions of Algeria;
- Lack of responsiveness of the Algerian diplomatic apparatus. Nature, purely bureaucratic process of decision making with authoritarianism bordering on derision from the bottom to the top of the hierarchy, there is no leeway for Algerian diplomats as effective they can be. Their audacity potential is constrained by a relentless administrative straitjacket which refers to the totalitarian Stalinist period.

Former senior officer of the ANP had to deal with the defense doctrine of Algeria, do you really think there is an alternative to the strategic alignment of the Western camp?

You interpellez me as a former senior officer of the ANP? You allow me, in short, to get rid of my academic status? Be. I was impregnated throughout my military career, a patriotic sentiment remains rot in my heart. I'm not stupid, however, as to imagine that Algeria can continue to adorn the protective mantle only Russian. I'm not stupid to the point of considering the hackneyed slogans of non-alignment is still needed. Now there is no longer an alternative to strategic dialogue with the West. Under this issue, I fed other ambitions in Algeria as a country to be a subcontractor - State aid - serving interests neo-colonialist or imperialist, as appropriate.

To solve the equation and put the positive alternative exists. We need to reform the current system of governance which is characterized by the choice of officials with powers beyond acting but overall popular control. We need a political system regeneration because it takes passionate love for his homeland to serve well. Better if some people think like me.

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