The Algerian president is currently in a mess. He is facing a wiretapping scandal, ordered by the Algerian presidency and targeting top army generals, including Chief of Staff Said Chengriha. Even if this case seems to have been the subject of an attempt to cover up, the clan of former generals of the black decade, Khaled Nezzar and Mohamed Mediène, known as Toufik, has just stepped up to demand the identification and punishment of those responsible for these serious acts of espionage.
The conspiracy is characteristic of the Algerian regime. Established as one of the foundations of the System by Houari Boumediene, it defines since 1962 the relations between the leaders at the top of the military-political power. Abdelmadjid Tebboune does not trust his army. Disagreements between the generals of the ANP and the Algerian president have resurfaced in a merciless war of positions, a year and a half before the end of the mandate of the current tenant of the Mouradia Palace.
The latter has just suffered a frontal attack by the generals of the black decade of the 90s – an attack that could cut clean the very tenuous thread that still maintains a semblance of a link of political interests between Abdelmadjid Tebboune and the boss of the Algerian army, General Saïd Chengriha.
On Saturday, May 20, YouTuber Saïd Bensedira, media spokesman for the clan consisting of retired General Khaled Nezzar, General Mohamed Mediène and foreign intelligence boss Jebbar Mhenna, said that it is now clearly established that Chawki Boukhazani, CEO of the public mobile operator Mobilis, a subsidiary of Algeria Telecom, was spying on the phones of many generals in the Algerian army. including Chief of Staff Saïd Chengriha. On whose behalf did he act and tap all those phones?
An accusing finger is directly pointed by the clan of Nezzar-Toufik-Mhenna towards Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, caught red-handed for having ordered, via a phone call from his right-hand man and adviser, Boualem Boualem, the immediate release of the CEO of Mobilis, arrested and questioned on this case of wiretapping by agents of the Central Directorate of Army Security (DCSA). He was even reportedly placed under judicial control by the military court of Blida, before the Algerian presidency canceled all these prosecutions and kept Chawki Boukhazani in his position as CEO of Mobilis. The presidential entourage also tried to make believe that the arrest of Boukhazani was linked to the purchase by Mobilis of the football club of the Sports Youth of Kabylia, thus saved from bankruptcy.
The scandal of telephone tapping broke out on March 21 when the boss of Mobilis was kidnapped, at the parking lot of the headquarters of the company he manages, by agents of the military security (DCSA). Chawki Boukhazani, former captain of the gendarmerie, was promoted, to everyone’s surprise, CEO of Mobilis on October 3, 2021 on the basis of a simple diploma in “Telecommunication and Security of Computer Networks” issued by the Polytechnic Military School of Algiers. Diploma that allowed him to become a “web developer” within the gendarmerie in 2011, before being seconded to Mobilis in 2019. This meteoric promotion of a career soldier at the head of the public giant of mobile telephony in Algeria is in itself dubious and a source of questions.
The spokesman of the Nezzar-Mediene-Mhenna clan went even further in his violent charge against President Tebboune by declaring that the author of such acts of espionage against the high command of the army can in no way apply for a second presidential term, especially since he has brought nothing to Algeria since his election in 2019, except false promises and the inability to go on the ground in the wilayas of the country. Indeed, Tebboune avoids field trips and seems to fear above all public appearances in Algerian cities, probably for fear of hearing one of the flagship slogans of the Hirak that qualifies him as a usurper. Algeria has 210,000 police officers and 180,00 gendarmes. A world record if we compare this impressive number of police forces to the population.
The virulent media outing of the protagonists of the black decade sounds like a divorce between Tebboune and the generals of the army who have never forgotten that their sworn enemy of yesteryear, the same one who hunted them down, sent them to prison or forced them into exile, the late General Ahmed Gaïd Salah, is also the putative father of Tebboune whom he made a president.
Orphaned by the old regime, he now finds himself in the middle of the ford. On the one hand, he faces an omnipresent Chengriha, with whom trust has never really been in order and who suddenly discovers that “his” president was spying on him. On the other hand, the vindictive duo Nezzar-Toufik has still not forgiven Tebboune for his loyalty to the clan of Bouteflika and Gaid Salah.
Moreover, the senior officers of the army, whether the Chengriha clan or that of Nezzar-Toufik, knowingly allowed a bad image of Tebboune to be conveyed by confining him to roles and other futile chatter, in order to discredit him and block his way to a second term.
Wanting to campaign through his visits outside Algeria, Tebboune expects much from his hypothetical visit to France to install the image of a president with the stature of a statesman. This visit, already postponed, risks being definitively cancelled given the setbacks of his recent surprise visit to Portugal. The latter was intended to be a miniature test of that of Paris. However, despite the total secrecy that surrounded the Lusitanian trip, a secret that aimed to prevent Algerians from the diaspora from converging on Lisbon from Europe and welcoming it with demonstrations hostile to the military regime, Hirak slogans resounded to the rhythm of throwing eggs at Tebboune’s procession.