Algeria: the purge within the security services is still in full swing

As in May and July, two major Algerian intelligence departments changed bosses again between 3 and 11 September. And it is again a retired general who has been recalled to take the reins of the Central Directorate of Army Security.

For the second time at the beginning of September, the Chief of Staff of the Algerian army, General Saïd Chengriha, proceeded to the installation of an Algerian intelligence chief. After General Djebbar M’henna, who became the boss of the Directorate of Documentation and External Security (DDSE) on September 3, it is the turn of retired General Abdelaziz Nouiouet Chouiter to become, since last Sunday, the new boss of the Central Directorate of Army Security (DCSA), replacing General Sid Ali ould Zemirli.

General Abdelaziz Nouiouet Chouiter is almost an illustrious stranger to the battalion. Retired for ten years now, he had previously directed, in the 1990s, the current Higher Intelligence School of Beni Messous in Algiers. It is also said that he was one of the rare generals to have remained distant from the clan struggles which divided the military hierarchy.

But his appointment last Sunday as the new head of military intelligence raises many questions, especially since Sid Ali Ould Zemirli has been at the head of the DSCA for two and a half years and seems set to stay there, since he he was promoted to general-major on July 4, at the same time Chengriha was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general. In addition, Zemirli distinguished himself by taking care of the offspring of Saïd Chengriha.

When Captain Chafik Chengriha, son of the Chief of Staff, accumulated undue advantages and voices demanded his hearing by a military tribunal, Ould Zemirli redoubled his solicitude to protect him from the outcry provoked by the device of prevarication and extortion tailor-made by his father for him. On this subject, Ould Zemirli advised Chafik Chengriha to change his telephone number, to avoid all anonymous and hateful messages from members of the “Gaïd Salah clan”.

Except that in the meantime, senior officers of the DCSA, including Sid Ali’s brother, retired Colonel Omar ould Zemitli, have been arrested and charged with treason and conspiracy against the high authorities, civil and military, of the state. Is General Sid Ali a victim or an accomplice in this alleged plot?

What is certain is that the chronic instability and the interminable turnover which characterize the various Algerian intelligence services, and which reflect the struggles for the seizure of power that the generals of the Algerian army are constantly engaged in , took a new turn.

So far, this merciless fight, and to cite only the episode that opposed, from 2013, Generals Gaïd Salah, former Chief of Staff of the Army (2004-2019), and General Mohamed Mediène, known as Toufik, boss of the former powerful Department of Intelligence and Security (DRS) through which he had set himself up as the “god of Algeria” from 1990 to 2015, put the army Algerian upside down.

We remember that the DRS was dismantled by Gaïd Salah and all the henchmen of Toufik dismissed or imprisoned, when they did not flee to Spain in the wake of retired general Khaled Nezzar, targeted by an international arrest warrant and sentenced to 20 years in prison by the Algerian justice in 2019.

The day after the death of Gaïd Salah, on December 23, 2019, a counter-purge was immediately launched by General Toufik, who, despite his sentence to 20 years in prison in July 2019, will only have spent a few weeks behind bars. in the military penitentiary of Blida. During these weeks, he suffered the worst humiliation to the point that his children published a letter addressed to public opinion deploring that his state of health “has worsened since his imprisonment on May 5, 2019 following a fall which occurred on the tenth day of his detention in the penitentiary center of Blida, causing a complex fracture of the right scapula”.

A few weeks later, Toufik’s three children launched a petition to demand the release of their father. In this petition, General Toufik, head of all the intelligence services in Algeria, is described as (you have to rub your eyes to believe it) “a political and opinion detainee”. He is undoubtedly the first intelligence boss in the world to be described as a “political and opinion detainee”. In this petition, General Toufik’s son Sid Ali and his two daughters Nassila and Sabrina mourn their dad in public. An outrage that nothing can erase and which explains the endless vendetta into which Toufik embarked after his return to grace.

Thus the Khaled Nezzar-Toufik duo will crack down again, especially from April 2020, to send dozens of generals and other senior officers close to Gaïd Salah to prison. There are three former intelligence chiefs, such as Kemaleddine Remili (DDSE), Wassini Bouazza (DGSI), Mohamed Bouzit Youcef (DDSE), but also General Abdelhamid Ghriss, former Secretary General of the Ministry of Defense, General Abdelkader Lechkham, former director of transmissions of the Ministry of Defense and many of their former collaborators… We must also mention the case of General Mohamed Kaidi, former head of the Employment and Preparation Department and former number 2 of the Chief of Staff of the Algerian army, imprisoned in November 2021 for a period of time, before being placed under house arrest.

The most astonishing thing is that even the hands that lent themselves to Toufik-Nezzar’s vendetta are in turn overtaken by the fury of the purges. In this regard, Generals Noureddine Makri and Abdelghani Rachedi, who served to carry out the purge against Gaïd Salah’s men, are currently banned from leaving the territory after their recent dismissal, and are still not spared prison, apparently, only because of their chronic illnesses.

The new boss of the DCSA, General Abdelaziz Chouiter, must tell himself that the shortest path to which his post leads is that of the Blida penitentiary. Fear in his stomach, he is paralyzed, like the whole Algerian army.

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