Tens of thousands march to demand change in Algeria

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Algerian protesters march with national flags during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on May 10, 2019. (AFP)
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Algerian protesters chant slogans as they march during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on May 10, 2019. (AFP)
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Algerian protesters chant slogans as they take part in an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on May 10, 2019. (AFP)
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Algerian protesters march with national flags during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on May 10, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 10 May 2019

Tens of thousands march to demand change in Algeria

  • Thousands of protesters also took to the streets in other cities, including Oran, Tizi Ouzou and Constantine, chanting anti-government slogans
  • Protesters are also demanding the resignation of interim president Abdelkader Bensalah, the head of the upper house of parliament who has replaced Bouteflika for 90 days to oversee a July 4 presidential election

ALGIERS: Tens of thousands of protesters demanding the removal of Algeria’s ruling elite gathered in the capital Algiers for a 12th successive Friday, defying attempts by the army to ease tensions ahead of presidential election.
The demonstrators are pushing for radical change by seeking the departure of senior figures, including politicians and businessmen, who have governed the North African country since independence from France in 1962.
“They all go,” read a banner held up by protesters draped in national flags gathered in central Algiers, which has seen a succession of large anti-government marches since Feb. 22.
“We will not give up. The battle will continue,” said a 37-year-old school teacher, marching with his wife and two children.
The demonstration was peaceful but smaller than those that have shaken Algiers over the past weeks. This is the first protest since the start of the holy month of Ramadan.
Thousands of protesters also took to the streets in other cities, including Oran, Tizi Ouzou and Constantine, chanting anti-government slogans, witnesses said.
After 20 years in power, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika quit on April 2 under pressure from protesters and the army, but demonstrations have continued, seeking the removal of all officials belonging to the old guard and the introduction of political reforms.
Protesters are also demanding the resignation of interim president Abdelkader Bensalah, the head of the upper house of parliament who has replaced Bouteflika for 90 days to oversee a July 4 presidential election.
The army, the north African country’s most powerful institution, has sought appeasement by meeting a number of protesters’ demands including launching anti-graft probes against people suspected of misuse of power and public funds.
Last week, Bouteflika’s youngest brother, Said, and two former intelligence chiefs were placed in custody by a military judge over “harming the army’s authority and plotting against state authority.”
At least five businessmen, including the country’s richest man, Issad Rebrab, who is active in food industry and sugar refining, have been detained for alleged involvement in corruption scandals.


Will European arms ban impact Turkey’s Syria operation?

Updated 43 min 17 sec ago

Will European arms ban impact Turkey’s Syria operation?

  • Several European countries imposing weapons embargoes on Turkey

ANKARA: With an increasing number of European countries imposing weapons embargoes on Turkey over its ongoing operation in northeastern Syria, Ankara’s existing inventory of weapons and military capabilities are under the spotlight.

More punitive measures on a wider scale are expected during a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Oct. 17.

It could further strain already deteriorating relations between Ankara and the bloc.

However, a EU-wide arms embargo would require an unanimous decision by all the leaders.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned last week of a possible refugee flow if Turkey “opened the doors” for 3.6 million Syrian refugees to go to Europe — putting into question the clauses of the 2016 migration deal between Ankara and Brussels.

“The impact of EU member states’ arms sanctions on Turkey depends on the level of Turkey’s stockpiles,” Caglar Kurc, a researcher on defense and armed forces, told Arab News.

Kurc thinks Turkey has foreseen the possible arms sanctions and stockpiled enough spare parts to maintain the military during the operation.

“As long as Turkey can maintain its military, sanctions would not have any effect on the operation. Therefore, Turkey will not change its decisions,” he said.

So far, Germany, France, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway have announced they have stopped weapons shipments to fellow NATO member Turkey, condemning the offensive.

“Against the backdrop of the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria, the federal government will not issue new permits for all armaments that could be used by Turkey in Syria,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Following Germany’s move, the French government announced: “France has decided to suspend all export projects of armaments to Turkey that could be deployed as part of the offensive in Syria. This decision takes effect immediately.”

While not referring to any arms embargo, the UK urged Turkey to end the operation and enter into dialogue.

Turkey received one-third of Germany’s arms exports of €771 million ($850.8 million) in 2018. 

According to Kurc, if sanctions extend beyond weapons that could be used in Syria, there could be a negative impact on the overall defense industry.

“However, in such a case, Turkey would shift to alternative suppliers: Russia and China would be more likely candidates,” he said.

According to Sinan Ulgen, the chairman of the Istanbul-based EDAM think tank and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, the arms embargo would not have a long-term impact essentially because most of the sanctions are caveated and limited to materials that can be used by Turkey in its cross-border operation.

“So the arms embargo does not cover all aspects of the arms trade between Turkey and the EU. These measures look essentially like they are intended to demonstrate to their own critical publics that their governments are doing something about what they see as a negative aspect of Turkey’s behavior,” he told Arab News.

Turkey, however, insists that the Syria operation, dubbed “Operation Peace Spring,” is undeterred by any bans or embargoes.

“No matter what anyone does, no matter if it’s an arms embargo or anything else, it just strengthens us,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told German radio station Deutsche Welle.