Credit: Magharebia

Is Algeria on the Verge of an “Arab Spring” Moment?

For the past several weeks Algeria has been rocked by mass protests that harken to the Arab Spring. The protests are peaceful and enjoy wide support among diverse sections of Algerians — and they could bring down the regime.

The protests were triggered by the decision of longtime ruler Abdelaziz Bouteflika  to run for another term in office in elections scheduled for April. Bouteflika came to power in 1999 as the architect of a peace accord that ended Algeria’s brutal civil war that killed as many as 200,000. But Bouteflika is now 82 years, and in 2013 he suffered a stroke and has not been seen in public since.

His decision to stand again for elections (or, probably more accurately, the decision of those around him to have him stand for elections) is being widely rejected by these protesters. Also fueling the protests is Algeria’s languishing economy and a looming fiscal crisis, propelled by falling prices of oil and natural gas.

On the line with me to discuss this unfolding situation in Algeria is Dr. Dalia Ghanem, visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.

We kick off with the basic question on the minds of many Algerians: Where is President Bouteflika?

We discuss the cabal running the state while Bouteflika is incapacitated andhave a longer conversation about what is driving these protests and where these may be headed. If you have 20 minutes and want to understand the unfolding

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About Dr. Dalia Ghanem 

Dalia Ghanem is a resident scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, where her work examines political and extremist violence, radicalization, Islamism, and jihadism with an emphasis on Algeria. She also focuses on the participation of women in jihadist groups. Ghanem has been a guest speaker on these issues in various conferences and a regular commentator in different Arab and international print and audio-visual media.

Ghanem was previously an El-Erian fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center. Prior to joining Carnegie in 2013, she was a teaching associate at Williams College in Massachusetts and she also served as a research assistant at the Center for Political Analysis and Regulation at the University of Versailles.

Ghanem is the author of numerous publications, including most recently: “Obstacles to ISIS Expansion in Algeria” (Cipher Brief, September 2016); “Algeria on the Verge: What Seventeen Years of Bouteflika Have Achieved” (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 2016); “Why Is AQIM Still a Regional Threat?” (New Arab, March 2016); “The Female Face of Jihadism” (EuroMeSCo Joint Policy, February 2016); “Running Low: Algeria’s Fiscal Challenges and Implications for Stability” (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, February 2016); “Women in the Men’s House: The Road to Equality in the Algerian Military” (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, November 2015); and “Despite Shakeups, Algeria’s Security Apparatus Stronger Than Ever” (World Politics Review, September, 2015).