Algeria’s government ready for dialogue with opposition: Deputy PM

An Algerian teacher holds a national flag in front of security forces during a protest in central Algiers on March 13, 2019 against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid to prolong his two-decade rule. (AFP)
Updated 14 March 2019

Algeria’s government ready for dialogue with opposition: Deputy PM

  • Armed Forces Chief of Staff said the army would preserve Algeria’s security
  • The initiative by Bouteflika has failed to satisfy many Algerians

ALGIERS: Algeria’s government is ready for dialogue with the opposition, its Deputy Prime Minister said on Wednesday, after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika reversed a decision to seek a fifth term in the face of mass protests.
“Dialogue is our duty. Our top priority is to bring together all Algerians,” Ramtane Lamamra told state radio.
Earlier, Armed Forces Chief of Staff and deputy defense minister Ahmed Gaed Salah told Ennahar TV the army would preserve Algeria’s security “in all circumstances and conditions.”
The initiative by Bouteflika, who also delayed elections and said a conference would be held to discuss political changes, has failed to satisfy many Algerians who continue to want the country’s stale political system dismantled quickly.
Tens of thousands of people from all social classes have demonstrated almost daily against a political system dominated by the military and veterans of the 1954-62 independence war against France.
Bouteflika has ruled for 20 years but has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013.


Egypt army drill ‘sends a message to Erdogan’

Updated 33 min 28 sec ago

Egypt army drill ‘sends a message to Erdogan’

  • Military exercise near Libyan border a ‘warning shot,’ experts say

CAIRO: A major Egyptian army exercise near the border with Libya is being viewed by military and strategic experts as a message of deterrence to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his backing for the Government of National Accord led by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj and supported by militia groups.

The combat exercise, codenamed “Hasm 2020” (Firmness 2020), was carried out by Egypt’s Western Region units together with armed forces formations and special troops, including paratroops and SEAL teams.

The drills included strategic incursions by land forces and land-sea operations by troops in coastal areas of the Western Region near the border with Libya. Other exercises focused on the threat from mercenary or terror groups.

Air defense and artillery maneuvers were also carried out during the exercises, which lasted several days. 

African affairs and national security expert Gen. Mohammed Abdel-Wahed said the Hasm 2020 exercise “carries many internal and external messages of assurance to our brothers in Libya and deterrence to some regional parties.”

The drill “was a message of deterrence to anyone who thinks he can threaten Egyptian national security” and “a simulation of war,” he added.

According to an army statement, the drill’s main phase was attended by Egyptian Minister of Defense Mohamed Zaki, and included live artillery and weapons fire.

Strategic expert Gen. Samir Farag said: “What happened was not an ordinary drill because the forces attacked mercenaries. Our army always fights a regular army. What is different about this drill is training to combat mercenaries. One of the training tasks is to carry out attacks to eliminate mercenaries in cooperation with the air force.”

Farag said the drill “is a message that we will operate on the coasts if they are under threat.”

He said the Egyptian air force succeeded in providing air supplies, “meaning that we have forces capable of going anywhere.”

Farag said that the Western Region had been carefully selected as a location for the exercises.

“We closely monitor any drill carried out by any of our enemies,” he said, adding that Hasm 2020 had been studied and followed up by some countries in the region. 

Egyptian MP and journalist Mustafa Bakry said that “every Egyptian should be proud of their armed forces and their extensive preparation to counter any attack on Egypt or threaten its national security.”

Bakry said that Hasm 2020 sent “a clear message to anyone who attempts to threaten Egypt or its people.”

The Libyan cities of Sirte and Al-Jufra are a red line, he said, adding that “Egypt will never leave Libya and its brotherly people as an easy prey to the Turkish invader.”