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Controversy Over Possible Change of Algerian Army’s ‘Doctrine’

Controversy Over Possible Change of Algerian Army’s ‘Doctrine’

Sunday, 10 May, 2020 - 07:30
Algerian troops conduct a search operation. (File photo: Reuters)

Algeria is expected to change the so-called “army doctrine” which bans it from taking part in any military operations abroad, even as part of peacekeeping efforts.

A number of observers said that this principle had remained “sacred” to civilian and military officials and a large segment of Algerians until a controversial draft amendment to the constitution was proposed to change the army’s role.

Last week, the Algerian presidency submitted the draft amendment to Article 29 of the constitution to lift the ban on the military’s involvement in missions abroad and sent it to parties, political figures, and civil society organizations for discussion.

Political analyst Ahsan al-Khalas told Asharq Al-Awsat that Algeria has an important geographical location in the Middle East and North Africa, and chairs the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU), but has no important global economic role.

Khalas explained that Algeria previously worked on countering terrorism and violent extremism under former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

During his 20-year rule, Bouteflika had made profound changes in the military establishment, notably linking army intelligence to the presidency. However, in the last days of his rule, the intelligence went back to its affiliation to the army.

The analyst explained that the current, and former constitutions, did not prevent military interference, however, it was not explicitly authorized.

It seems that authorities want to constitutionally justify a new international role, according to the analyst.

Contrary to other observers, Khalas believes the issue is not related to the army’s fundamental principles, but rather establishing a new approach to Algeria’s international role.

Informed sources said President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is seeking to reformulate the army according to his own perception.

They confirmed that the latest proposed amendment comes against the backdrop of other changes made in the Defense Ministry’s senior positions in the past weeks.

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