- HASSAN MASIKY
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Washington / Morocco Board News---Allegations of Algeria’s continues support of the regime of Colonel Gaddafi have surfaced again. This time, however, the assertion of Algeria’s active role in defending the Libyan dictator came with indisputable evidence in the form of a 15 minutes speech by a high-ranking member of Algeria ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) party.
Mr. saddek Bouguettaya, a member of the central committee of the FLN and the president of the Commission on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and community abroad of the Algerian National Assembly (Algeria’s Parliament), traveled to Libya on May 8 to attend a meeting of Libyan tribes supporting Gaddafi. During his presentation to the pro-Gaddafi gathering, Mr. Bouguettaya voiced the FLN’s unconditional support to the Libyan leader and blasted the NATO operations in Libya.
During his appearance, the Algerian parliamentary leader called Gaddafi’s effort to stay in power heroic and criticized the West “bombing of civilian population”. Using Algeria’s war of independence as a background, Mr. Bouguettaya stated his confidence that the Libyan people will defeat France, as did the Algerian revolutionary forces back in 1962. The FLN leader evoked images of Paul Bramer, the U.S. Administrator to Iraq during the American invasion, controlling Baghdad to criticize foreign forces intervention in Libya. Mr. Bouguettaya’s analogy may not please the Americans who remain uncertain of Algeria’s presumed neutrality in the Libyan conflict.
Since Algerian officials have not commented on Mr. Bouguettaya visit to Tripoli, observers are construing the FLN leader’s speech as Algeria’s official position in the Libyan conflict.
This is not the first time a high-ranking Algerian official makes pro-Gaddafi declarations. Abdelaziz Belkhadem, secretary general of the FLN and Personal Representative of Algeria’s President Bouteflika, called the Libyan insurgent “agents of foreign powers who receive orders from the West.” In addition, Daho Ould Kablia, Algeria’s Interior Minister, stated in a recent interview that future relations with Libya would be strained in case the rebels take over power in Tripoli.
During his fiery speech, Mr. saddek Bouguettaya accused the NATO forces and the Libyan revolutionary units of crimes against civilians, but did not mention Gaddafis’s forces attacks on hospitals, homes and unarmed citizens. The Algerian independent press did not appreciate Mr. Bouguettaya references to the “martyrs of the Algerian revolution” when comparing them to Gaddafi’s supporters. In a blazing editorial, that was censored by his own newspaper , Kamel DAOUD of the daily “Quotidien d’Oran” asks “why did not the “Envoy” (referring to Bouguettaya) mention in his speech Iman Obeidi (who was allegedly raped by Gaddafi’s forces) and the thousands of Libyans killed fighting for freedom and the right to control their lives?
Mr. Daoud writes in the same column, “It was painful not to be able to tell this man [Mr. Bouguettaya] that if our martyrs were alive, they would be in Benghazi and with the rebels and not under the tent of the man who offered you [Mr. Bouguettaya] a meal! Algerians are forbidden to say they can speak for their country here in their own country and then “The powers to be” send an apparatchik recycled from the Boumediene era, to speak on behalf of the dead and the living. Not so! Not in my name.”