The people of Algeria have had no respite from murder, mayhem and oppression for six years. Ever since the Algerian junta annulled the second round of parliamentary elections in January 1992, the country has been gripped by violence. The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was poised to sweep the polls. It had already secured 188 of the 230 seats contested in the first round. This was neither acceptable to the pouvior nor, more importantly, to their backers in the west. They would rather see a million Algerians dead than a few thousand flood into France as refugees in the event of a FIS victory. Why any Algerian should feel compelled to leave his country if the FIS came to power has never been explained.
The west has other ‘interests’ too in Algeria. One is the uninterrupted flow of oil and gas at throw-away prices. Both France and the US are involved in exploration there. This also extends to other oil producing countries in the region - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates et al. The other is the west’s pathological hatred of Islam. A FIS victory would have brought committed Muslims to power in a country which lies only a stone’s throw away from Europe. This was unacceptable to the west. The FIS promised such ‘dangerous’ policies as a corruption-free government, jobs for the millions of unemployed and a society based on morality. The west would rather have a corrupt, brutal junta in power than a clean, efficient FIS which is not subservient to the west. When it comes to its interests, the west is quite prepared to abandon its self-proclaimed ‘principles.’ It clamours for democracy in Burma, castigating the junta for not respecting the wishes of the people, but backs the junta in Algeria.
Hypocrisy’s is the west stock in trade. Two years ago when Madeleine Albright, then US ambassador to the United Nations, was reminded that US policy was responsible for the deaths of 567,000 Iraqi children, she said it was a price worth paying because it served America’s interests. In Algeria, at least 200,000 people, most of them innocent civilians, have been murdered. Over the years, an even more sinister ploy has been used. The deaths were all blamed on the FIS or the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). Not a word was ever uttered or written about the junta’s role in the killings. Only in recent months, when the evidence started to pile up, have newspapers in the west started to mention the involvement of the regime’s own operatives.
In November, a series of articles in the British press, based on revelations of former Algerian security services operatives have confirmed the junta’s role in this brutal saga. Questions were raised about a number of massacres in places like Beni Massous, Ben Talha and other regions of the country within earshot of military barracks and the junta’s soldiers did not intervene to save innocent people from death. The manner of killings was also revealing. Most had their throats slit or were hacked to death. Some were even burnt alive - all tactics designed to spread terror among people. The areas targeted are mostly strongholds of FIS, giving further indication of junta complicity.
Even the bombing campaign in Paris in the summer of 1995 was the work of the junta. A simple rule of thumb one needs to apply to such events is: what is the motive and who benefits? Clearly, the Islamic Movement had nothing to gain by a bombing campaign in Paris. It would merely tarnish its image, which is precisely what the junta wanted. This has also now been confirmed by the junta’s former agents. Similarly, the French government would not have been oblivious of this, yet it joined the junta’s propaganda campaign to tarnish the image of the Islamic Movement. Demonizing Islam is the west’s favourite game, something it shares with the brutes in power in the Muslim world.
The Algerian junta has also taken affront at suggestions that foreign, possibly UN observers be sent to investigate the killings. The junta does not want its role to be exposed, demanding that the world accept its official propaganda. It has also now been revealed that the GIA has been infiltrated by the junta’s agents. Thus, the GIA itself cannot be blamed for all the crimes since it is the regime’s operatives who have instigated many of the bloodbaths.
Simply analysing the situation is not enough. There is so much blood on the hands of the junta that it has to go. Only the FIS can save Algeria from sliding into further chaos and a point of no return. The people of Algeria deserve better than what they have received so far. Muslims around the world must also realise that they cannot accept the pronouncements of the west about their adherence to the rule of law and respect for democracy. These are meaningless phrases uttered only to fool the people.
Muslimedia: January 16-31, 1998