In the absence of any economic or social achievement, Algerian leaders have found nothing better to offer to the Algerian people, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the country’s independence, than an exuberant military parade, says writer-journalist Talaâ Saoud Al Atlassi. “The celebrations of the 60th anniversary of independence have been focused on this military parade since the generals have no economic, social, industrial, infrastructural achievements to their credit … Nothing useful for the Algerian people,” he writes in a column entitled “The generals of Algeria celebrate their 60 years of rule,” published Wednesday on the news site “Machahid 24”. The writer notes that “the huge rents from fossil fuels in Algeria have been absorbed by structural corruption (the multiple ongoing trials of former officials of the administration, revealing the system of corruption which the Algerian generals have laid the foundations for decades), as well as by the purchase of military vehicles that benefit firstly to the generals, in terms of commissions earned, and secondly serve to “embellish” the image of the army and “boost its prestige”. “No trace of these revenues is perceptible on the socio-economic level nor on that of urbanization,” the author points out, noting that the country has been suffering from the same shortages for decades, “generations accustomed to daily cuts in electricity and water in all Algerian cities and villages”. He believes that a small part of the budgets allocated to the acquisition of aircraft and modern tanks “would have been enough to establish stable and efficient structures for the production and distribution of water and electricity, and to meet the needs of the Algerian citizen,” adding that better management of these revenues would also have allowed the reform and modernization of the agricultural sector in this country which, for decades, suffers from a permanent shortage of food staples. The stockpiling of weapons “benefits the generals and harms Algeria,” he says, explaining that the generals continue to stockpile weapons “not to use them, but to receive commissions on each acquisition and to reap the benefits of contracts for training, maintenance and supply of spare parts, as well as to make an impact on the domestic front”. The military junta governing the country has led the army to isolate itself from the people and even to enter into confrontation with them, and such a “ceremonial” military parade serves to legitimize its hegemony, to consolidate its power and to terrify its many opponents, the journalist-writer points out. Saoud Al Atlassi stresses, moreover, that Algerian leaders continue to extend their grip on the workings of the state, with the financial benefits that corruption provides them and the monopoly of power by the “elite”, referring to a series of testimonies from Algerian sources on this “time-honored rule”, and to dozens of studies and reports from outside observers, which mention the role of generals in the management of the country’s affairs and in the control of Algerian policies. “It is therefore natural that the band in power in Algeria finds nothing better to offer to the Algerian people, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the country’s independence, than an exuberant military parade, in the absence of a ‘civilian’ gift,” he concludes.
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