|Political Violence and the Prospect of Peace in Algeria|
Dr Youcef Bouandel
Ever since the interruption of the democratic process in January 1992, Algeria has experienced a level of violence hardly seen in any part of the world. Indeed, such led some observers to crown Algeria the world leader in violation of human rights. Depending on the sources, the violence claimed between 100,000 to 200,000 lives, in addition to thousands who have disappeared. Officially, Islamist 'terrorist' groups have been responsible for the massacres. However, recent defectors from the Algerian security forces claim that factions of the Algerian army are behind most of the massacres. They also claim that some terrorist organizations, such as the infamous Groupe Islamic Arme (GIA) are the creation of the Algerian secret services. Regardless of the explanations one may have regarding the violence, the authorities credibility has been tarnished by its non-assistance to endangered civilian villagers being massacred in the vicinity of military barracks.
Before one can address the prospect of peace in Algeria, it is vital to discuss the attempts made so far in the quest for peace. These attempts and their shortcomings provide the necessary background to any discussion relating to the future of political stability in Algeria.
During Algeria's painful near civil war conditions, the successive authorities in Algiers have implemented reforms to attempt to reduce the violence and establish civic peace. Former president Liamine Zeroual introduced the Rahma (clemency) Law: an attempt to put an end to the violence, which provided that the 'terrorists' who gave themselves up would be treated leniently. Nonetheless, the most spectacular of these attempts to end the violence came after April 1999. The date marked the 'election' of current president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. During his election campaign, Bouteflika promised to put an end to the violence that had been ripping the country apart for the previous seven years. Indeed, in July 1999 Bouteflika introduced the Law on Civil Harmony: an attractive package to disarm 'terrorist' groups. In order to give this Law more credibility, in addition to its adoption by the Parliament, the President introduced a referendum in September 1999. The Law on Civil Harmony excluded the death penalty, regardless of whether the Algerian Penal Code provided for it or not. For crimes involving collective massacres, the Law stipulated a maximum imprisonment period of twenty years. Other penalties were less severe, depending on the nature of the crime committed. This Law offered exemption from prosecution if the offence had not involved death, even if they were involved in acts of 'terrorism and subversion.' However, these measures were conditioned upon the armed groups voluntary surrender to the authorities within six months of the adoption of this Law. Failing to give up arms by 13 January 2000, the authorities would engage in a ruthless battle against these armed groups. Before this deadline expired and with a few 'terrorists'only having given themselves up, the President introduced ‘la grace amnistiante’; a controversial measure with no public debate that gave a blanket exemption to two armed groups.
These measures, while permitting the Islamists to surrender voluntarily, have by implication, exonerated members of the security forces from any involvement in the tragedy or judicial consequence. Indeed, it would be absurd to talk about pursuing the security forces - who have been engaged in a relentless war to eradicate 'terrorism' - for alleged massacres and extra judicial killings while the 'terrorists' themselves have benefited from clemency measures and have reintegrated into society. There are also other problems with regard to the transparency of the probation commissions that are empowered to oversee the application of this Law. Where there have been prosecutions, against the military and security forces, they were levied against lower-ranking members.
The President's attempts, while justified and intended to end the violence that have been sweeping the country for almost a decade, are less likely to achieve their intended results. These measures may reduce the level of violence in the short run, but they will leave a lot of questions unanswered.
Since Bouteflika came to power, in April 1999, the levels of violence have been drastically reduced. As a matter of fact, not only have Non-Governmental Organisations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, been invited to the country after an absence of four years - in the case of Amnesty - they were free to visit different parts of the country and testified to the improvements. Yet, it does not mean that the problem has been resolved. The Algerian press continues to report massacres on a regular basis in different parts of the country. What the Algiers authorities have tried to achieve thus far is peace by Decree. The President initiates, the Parliament passes and the population vote in a referendum for a law and suddenly peace is expected to be the end result. However, history shows that this is not the case. Peace can only be achieved once justice is seen to prevail. Rigoberta Menchu, the Guatemalan Nobel Peace laureate succinctly put it: 'Peace without justice is only a symbolic peace.'
Despite these improvements, the regime in Algiers still lacks popular legitimacy. The population's almost total obliviousness to the recent legislative, local and regional elections - given the very low turnout - is the most uncontested example. What makes the situation even more disturbing and questions the extent to which peace has been achieved are the tragic events of Kabilya. The region, which has been at the forefront of so many demands - political, social, economic and cultural - has been very unstable for almost two years now. The region's challenge to the authorities in Algiers has not only been serious, but resulted in more instability and loss of
life. The continuous instability in the region, which had temporary ramifications on other parts of the country, has seriously questioned the extent to which peace may prevail in the country.
The violence that has been ripping through Algeria for the last decade is arguably not beyond the control of the Algerian authorities. However, the relative inattention of western governments has not helped either. The Algerian authorities are quick to point to interference in their internal affairs. Here, France's position is particularly delicate. The love-hate relationship that exists between the two countries has put France in a better position compared to the rest of the world to influence, at least on an informal level, the development of events in Algeria. However, being the former colonial power, elements of Algerian society would still resist what they perceive to be meddling in their affairs.
The continuous violence certainly has benefited many people in the country. The violence exacerbated the corruption and led many people to accumulate illicit fortunes. Moreover, the manner in which the violence could be ended has not been well thought. The attempts that have been made so far, especially the Law on Civil Harmony, have been rather one sided. Thus, a just and comprehensive peace can only be achieved once justice is seen to prevail. This could take the shape of a Truth Commission that would shed more light and identify the shared responsibilities of the massacres. After the responsibilities are shared, reconciliation can begin and peace can be
Dr Youcef Bouandel is Senior Lecturer in Politics, Department of Policy Studies, University of Lincoln, UK.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel won the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday to chalk up a record ninth victory in a row, and 13th of the Formula One season.
Australian team mate Mark Webber bowed out of the sport with second place, anchoring a Red Bull one-two in his 215th and final race for the champions, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso third.
Vettel is the first driver to win nine successive races in a single season although Italian Alberto Ascari strung together nine in a row over two campaigns in 1952-53.
The 26-year-old German’s victory equalled compatriot Michael Schumacher’s 2004 record with Ferrari of 13 wins in a season.
Vettel and Red Bull had secured their fourth successive drivers’ and constructors’ titles last month.
Driver and constructor standings
1. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull 397
2. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 242
3. Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull 199
4. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 189
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus 183
6. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 171
7. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 132
8. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 112
9. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 73
10. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Sauber 51
11. Sergio Perez (Mexico) McLaren 49
12. Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India 48
13. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India 29
14. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso 20
15. Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso 13
16. Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber 6
17. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams 4
18. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams 1
19. Jules Bianchi (France) Marussia 0
20. Charles Pic (France) Caterham 0
21. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Lotus 0
22. Giedo van der Garde (Netherlands) Caterham 0
23. Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia 0
1. RedBull – Renault 596
2. Mercedes 360
3. Ferrari 354
4. Lotus – Renault 315
5. McLaren 122
6. Force India – Mercedes 77
7. Sauber – Ferrari 57
8. Toro Rosso – Ferrari 33
9. Williams – Renault 5
10. Marussia – Cosworth 0
11. Caterham – Renault 0
Rampant Manchester City shredded the Premier League’s meanest defence with a 6-0 thrashing of Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday while Manchester United’s surge up the table stalled after a 2-2 draw at Cardiff City.
Sergio Aguero and Jesus Navas struck twice for City who have scored 13 goals in their last two home games. Hapless Tottenham conceded as many in one match as they had in their previous 11 league outings.
A sixth home win in six put Manuel Pellegrini’s team in fourth place on 22 points. United were poised to move above them when they led Cardiff in south Wales with goals from Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra.
The visitors were then denied a fourth consecutive league victory when Kim bo-Kyung’s late header earned Cardiff a deserved share of the spoils to leave United in sixth spot with 21 points, seven behind leaders Arsenal.
Oddly Tottenham enjoyed territorial superiority against City but having fallen behind after 15 seconds they were ripped apart by a home side bursting with goalscoring potential.
City have scored 34 league goals already this season and manager Pellegrini was glowing in his praise.
“It’s not normal to win by six goals against a strong team like Tottenham. I think today we played really well, not just attacking but defending,” he said.
“Spurs have very important players in attack so to not concede is very good.”
City were gifted the lead staright from the kickoff when Tottenham played the ball back to Hugo Lloris but the France keeper hit his clearance straight to Aguero.
Lloris, playing for Spurs for the time since suffering concussion against Everton at the start of the month, parried the Argentine striker’s effort but the ball rolled to Navas whose chip curled over the out-of-position keeper.
It was the second fastest goal of the season after the wind-assisted one scored by Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic against Southampton in 13 seconds.
Tottenham’s afternoon got steadily worse as they slumped to their heaviest league defeat since a 7-1 mauling at Newcastle United in 1996.
“It was a difficult start for us after that. Everything you had in mind goes down the drain,” said Tottenham’s stunned manager Andre Villas-Boas, in charge for the 50th league game.
“Everything went bad for us from being one of the best defences in the country to suffering six goals. There’s not a lot we can say. City were excellent, we were extremely poor today and paid a heavy price.”
Another poor clearance by Lloris led to the second goal after 34 minutes when Younes Kaboul’s clearance from Aguero’s shot cannoned in off Tottenham midfielder Sandro.
Aguero’s deft finish just before halftime effectively killed off Spurs and when he and Alvaro Negredo both produced superb finishes early in the second half the Londoners were in danger of suffering their worst Premier League defeat.
Villas-Boas gave striker Emmanuel Adebayor his first appearance of the season after the break but Tottenham’s goal-shy attack rarely threatened City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, again selected in place of England’s Joe Hart.
Navas ran through alone to complete the rout in stoppage-time.
While City appear to be on the up despite some poor away results, Tottenham, who have managed a meagre nine goals in 12 league games, have slipped to ninth with 20 points.
Rejuvenated Australia paceman Mitchell Johnson blitzed England with a haul of five for 42 to lead his country to an emphatic 381-run victory in the first Ashes test on Sunday.
It was a first win in 10 tests for Australia after losing a series 4-0 in India and another in England 3-0 this year, and a first triumph in eight Ashes contests since the Perth test in 2010.
The weather, which delayed play twice for more than two hours, at one stage looked like extending the sometimes fractious contest into a fifth day before Johnson stepped up to polish off the final English batsmen in the Gabba twilight.
England’s hopes of any kind of result at Brisbane had been slim at best when they were set a record 561 to win and lost two second innings wickets for only 24 runs on Saturday evening.
They were shattered when the dismissal of captain Alastair Cook for 65 triggered a collapse from 142 for four to 160 for eight in the 45 minutes between the two weather disruptions.
The victory was a confirmation of a renewed sense of confidence in the Australia team after a miserable year and will strengthen their belief that they can stop England winning a fourth successive Ashes series.
“As a team, we’ve copped a fair bit of criticism of late, and our performances have probably deserved that,” said Australia captain Michael Clarke.
“The win is very important, very special to us, it’s a great way to start the series.
“We’ll enjoy it, no doubt about that, but we’re seven or eight days away from the second test match and we know England will come back harder.”
Left-arm quick Johnson, who took 4-61 as the tourists were skittled for 136 in their first innings and contributed 103 runs with the bat, was named Man of the Match after claiming his eighth test five-wicket haul.
Cook said England would regroup and come out fighting in the second test in Adelaide but needed to take a long, hard look at how they dealt with Johnson.
“We’re going to have to be really honest with ourselves about how we go about trying to play him,” he said.
“We can’t brush the issue, he’s hurt us in this game and we’re going to come back and show our ability in the next game.”
“It’s just one loss, it’s a five-match test series so there’s plenty of time to fight back. We’ve done it before.”
England made a reasonable start to the day but Kevin Pietersen (26) and Ian Bell (32) lost their wickets with shots they need not have played.
As in the first innings when England lost six wickets for nine runs in one spell, though, it was spinner Nathan Lyon (2-46) who really got the ball rolling for the hosts.
HAILSTORM BEFORE COLLAPSE
Cook, who scored 235 not out in his second innings in the last Ashes test at the Gabba, had played a composed and defiant innings with just three boundaries before a dramatic hailstorm forced the players off the field.
Six balls after the resumption, Lyon got a little bit of extra bounce out of the surface and Cook caught a top edge with an attempted cut with Brad Haddin taking the catch behind the wickets.
England were only able to add only six runs for the next three wickets with Matt Prior (4), Stuart Broad (4) and Graeme Swann (0) quickly following their captain back to the pavilion.
Lyon, who later got his first chance to lead Australia in the victory song despite being given the task last January, had Prior caught at leg slip by David Warner after just eight minutes in the middle.
A bullish Broad lasted just three deliveries and five minutes before he got the faintest of touches to a Johnson delivery which again Haddin snaffled up.
Swann lasted just two balls before a meek fend at a Johnson snorter saw the ball fly into the hands of a diving Steve Smith in the slips.
England regrouped sufficiently to survive until the rain started falling again but the storm passed reasonably quickly and the players were back out with an hour of play remaining.
Chris Tremlett blocked for seven runs until a rising Ryan Harris ball came off the splint of his bat into the hands of George Bailey at short leg.
That left Joe Root (26 not out) and James Anderson as England’s last two batsmen and fittingly it was Johnson who dealt the coup de grace by dismissing his fellow quick caught and bowled to trigger the celebrations.
“To get a five-for in a test match in an Ashes series is unbelievable feeling,” said Johnson, who has been lampooned in song for the last four years by England’s Barmy Army of fans.
“All the boys just racing in and getting in a huddle was a great celebration for us. It was just a great moment, something I’ll never forget.
“We need to celebrate tonight because it has been a while.”
By Constantinos Psilides
LIKE THEIR relatives in the 1950s, 60s and 70s before them, Cypriot youth are being forced to leave the island in search of work.
In the European Union as a whole, unemployment for the under 25s averages out at 23 per cent. In Cyprus it is nearly double that. Around 44 per cent of under-25-year-olds are looking for work.
But unlike their predecessors who emigrated as far away as Australia and South Africa, young Cypriots are turning for help in the only direction currently available to them, the European Union.
Among a whole raft of measures the EU has announced to help young adults find work was a locally organised two-day job fair in Nicosia called Youth on the Move. Jointly organised by the European Employment Services (EURES) Cyprus and the European Commission Representative Office, the fair focused on job opportunities and living conditions in various EU countries.
The fair, which ended on Saturday, was attended by hundreds of young adults who had travelled from as far away as Paphos.
“I’ve been unemployed for a year. I came here to ask for jobs in Cyprus but mostly for opportunities in other countries,” said Valentina, 27, a mathematician from Paphos.
“When I started studying mathematics there weren’t a lot of us. Now the list for appointments in the public sector as a teacher is really long and we don’t have much chance for employment in the private sector due to the financial crisis,” the young scientist said, adding that if the opportunity arose she would most probably leave the island.
Chryso, 24, a graduate from Derynia is in her second year of unemployment. “I was just told that there job vacancies in my field of studies in Finland and Holland. I have a degree in psychology so as you can guess there are no job opportunities in Cyprus,” she said.
She said she was prepared to move abroad even though it would be hard to leave her family behind.
“Families in Cyprus are closer than families abroad. We have stronger bonds,” she said. “Leaving the country will take some thinking. But what can we do? If I get a job offer I’ll probably leave,” the 24-year-old said.
Andria, 23, was mostly interested in getting a job in Finland. “If I get a job there I’m leaving the next day,” said Andria, who is currently a part-time employee in a job unrelated to her studies.
“I studied business administration and I enquired about jobs related to my field. I wouldn’t mind being employed in another field though. What matters is employment and that things are better in other countries,” the 23-year old said.
While specific job opportunities were available at the fair, a major focus was on the practicalities and hurdles of living in another country.
Top of the list is the need to learn another language.
Chryso, who found job vacancies in her field of psychology in Finland and Holland, accepted this was a problem, but preferred to focus on the fact that job opportunities existed at all.
For 16-year-old Nikoletta, the issue of language appeared to be just a minor obstacle.
“I’m likely going to live abroad. Job opportunities and the job market is far bigger than Cyprus,” said the teenager from Paphos, expressing the preference for countries like Bulgaria. “There, the only requirement needed is knowing the language,” she added blithely.
She was among the many lyceum students were bussed in for the Friday session by the ministry of education which was a co-sponsor of the event.
Nikoletta’s friend Niki said she would jump at the chance of leaving Cyprus.
“I’ll do it in a heartbeat,” the sixteen-year old said. “I think I’ll have more luck there, a better chance to find employment, have better experiences and see new things.”
Twelve countries were represented in the job fair.
“I hope more people come and ask me for a job. We have them there!” said Niek Iversen the Netherlands representative, almost apologising for the fact that most vacancies were in engineering.
“It’s still a job,” he added, expressing his satisfaction that many people had come to his stand and asked about life in the Netherlands.
The man in charge for the event, Antonis Kafouros the EURES manager in Cyprus explained that providing guidance was a major part of the event.
“What we are aiming for here is to give them the necessary information to start looking for something else,” the EURES manager said recognising that moving to another country is hard. “We inform people on living conditions, about transportation and a variety of practical issues that may arise, such as taxation for example. People who decide to move to another country must be determined and most of all, properly informed.”
Other opportunities exist for those interested in starting off in the business world but lacking proper training and innovative ideas via the Erasmus Plus initiative which was passed by the European Parliament on Tuesday. The youth learning programme has set aside 14.5 billion euros over a seven year period to provide training and education opportunities. Each year Erasmus Plus will allow more than 400,000 students to go on internships abroad.
Cyprus representative Nadia Karayianni was at the jobs fair and explained just what the programme will offer.
“Let’s say a beautician is interested in opening up a beauty parlour but wants to be original and learn how to handle day-to-day problems. We can get her a job at a beauty parlour of another European country,” Karayianni explained, adding that the programme pays for transportation and living costs.
“It’s not a job. It’s a chance to learn from people who were at this job for years and know a thing or two” Karayianni said.
The Erasmus Plus programme is just part of a larger plan to fight youth unemployment. The EU has approved an eight billion euro plan for the next seven years to fight youth unemployment in the EU as part of its Youth Employment Initiative. The goal of the project is for any person under 25 to be able to secure a job or an internship position, four months after finishing studies or losing their job. Cyprus has been allocated 10 million euros.
Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou told the opening session of the jobs fair that with these funds the government intends to unveil two more initiatives to battle youth unemployment in 2014, though she did not specify what those initiatives would entail.
“Our goal is to utilise all forms of funding the EU has to offer regarding youth unemployement,” said the minister.
But in the meantime, there was a sense that the government, like the unemployed visiting the fair, accepted the reality of looking abroad for work.
“Our goal is to inform people on the chances of securing a job in another European country,” said the minister. “We want to give them whatever they need to succeed in that endeavour, if they choose that path.”
The EURES operates a portal to inform people on job vacancies in the EU, found at www.eurescyprus.eu. More about the Erasmus Plus initiative can be found at www.ec.europa.eu/education