In a nation where justice is served through mobile phone, the de facto president of the country, Gaid Salah, is taking his revenge, through a selective judicial process, on traditional opponents of the regime.
Issad Rebrab, the wealthiest man in North Africa, was arrested yesterday in Algiers and presented to the prosecutor for allegedly inflating invoices. The billionaire, from the berber region, built an empire through hard work and successfully expanded his business empire abroad. Substantially appreciated by Algerians for his contribution to the country’s economy, Issad Rebrab, since 2014 (when he refused to fund the former president’s campaign), found himself the subject of arbitrary measures taken against him and his business empire, notably with the blockade of EvCon’s factory equipment.
In a country where most politicians don’t hold A-Levels and where illiterate oligarchs are created to serve the members of the regime, Issad Rebrab remains a relatively clean businessman and the exception to the rule in terms of his ability to compete on the international stage. This isn’t to say that he is perfectly clean, however, who is really these days? Even in the Western world, it is difficult to find a businessman who did not benefit directly or indirectly from networking opportunities with politicians.
Many Algerians consider Issad Rebrab to have been granted in the past an unfair monopoly over the sugar and oil sector. However, one must keep in mind, that at the time, the notorious general Toufik Mediene was the man who influenced politicians to amend the legislation and allow such a monopoly to occur in the first place. If anything, it is general Toufik Mediene that should be questioned, not Issad Rebrab. The Cevital chief merely took advantage of an opportunity provided to him on a silver plate. To see the old man, being filmed (illegally) inside an army van, by Ennahar TV, is beyond disgraceful. Particularly when considering that the Ennahar TV’s director is a man whose father betrayed Algeria during French colonialism, leading his son Mohamed Mokadem to change his name to Anis Rahmani.
As Gaid Salah is getting rid of the most conspicuous symbols of the Bouteflika era, like the Kouninef brothers, arrested yesterday, or Ali Haddad imprisoned for three weeks already on a number of serious charges, the new political power embodied by Ahmed Gaïd-Salah also takes the opportunity to hit long-term opponents of the regime, in this case the boss of the Cevital Group.
In contrast, the other oligarchs, Ali Haddad and the Kouninef brothers, conned the state and obtained state contracts that were intentionally inflated, in some cases not even fulfilled whilst still getting paid. Following Ali Haddad’s arrest, assault rifles were found at his villa, including AK-47s.
Ghali Belkecir (pictured bottom left), the gendarmerie’s chief, is another Gaid Salah loyalist who has been named in very serious cases of corruption, he is thought to have accumulated a large wealth under Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s reign. His wife, Fatiha Boukhers, Tipasa court’s president, was caught threatening judges who opposed Abdelaziz Bouteflika; in another controversial case, she is thought to have been behind the imprisonment of three journalists, without any evidence available against them. One of them, Abdou Semmar, an investigative journalist, had to flee the country and seek exile in France. Fatiha Boukhers is still the head of the court of Tipasa.
Another symbol of the Bouteflika regime who has remained unhindered, is Baha Eddine Tliba (pictured bottom right), the XXL member of parliament of the city of Annaba. Amongst many offences, the man built large villas with funds the origin of cannot be determined, one of which was gifted to Amar Saadani; the villas were built illegally on a protected land off the coast of Annaba.
Possibly the worst offender and one of the most corrupt man to have emerged during Bouteflika’s reign, is Amar Saadani (pictured top left), a man who embezzled over £300 million. A petrol station attendant, who then turned ‘drabki’ (Algerian for dancing drummer), then turned chief of the FLN, Algeria’s main political party, and finally turned ‘nouveau riche‘. His son and daughters live the high life in Europe, courtesy of Algeria’s public purse. We have a special report on the Saadani family coming soon, with testimonies from their own friends, as well as the full details on their extravagant spending in Europe. Amar Saadani is a close friend of Gaid Salah.
It’s hard to take seriously Gaid Salah’s selective purge against corruption when the most prominent embezzlers remain untouched by the Algerian judiciary. The arrest of Issad Rebrab is particularly worrying, many analysts consider that such a move has only one purpose, create a climate of ethnic violence, possibly to justify a complete state of emergency, where protests would be made illegal.
As the Algerian people remain peaceful, the regime has been manoeuvring to stir ethnic violence as well as settle personal scores. This isn’t fooling anyone, considering everybody in Algeria knows that Gaid Salah, less than eight weeks ago was calling for a Bouteflika 5th term. It is rather insulting to the intelligence of Algerians to now pretend that he is with the ‘Hirak’, whilst still keeping around him the same men who brought the country to ruin.
The Algerian people will take Gaid Salah seriously when the likes of Said Bouteflika, Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour, Chakib Khelil, Mouad Bouchareb, Houda Feraoun, Tayeb Louh, Amar Saadani, Ahmed Ouyahia, Baha Eddine Tliba, Sidi Said, Ghali Belkecir, Tahar Allache, to name but a few, are behind bars. Traitors who only took from the country and never gave back, unlike Issad Rebrab who has a genuine interest in seeing Algeria develop.