Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Algeria - DRS retakes control of Sonatrach

In a surprise move on Monday 31st May, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika issued a presidential decree firing the former Sonatrach PDG/CEO, Mohammed Meziane and the company's four former vice-presidents who were already in jail or under house arrest because of the investigation into the suspected embezzlement of millions of dollars.

Bouteflika's move would appear to be pre-empting the legal process. However, we understand from our Algerian sources that this move is not designed, as some commentators have suggested, to speed up the process of rehabilitating Sonatrach and getting the company back to business after the scandal that has paralysed it over the last few months. Instead, we believe that it is part of a much deeper political deal,forced upon Bouteflika, which has resulted in Sonatrach being 'retaken' by Algeria's powerful DRS intelligence services.

In this week's Algeria Politics & Security, which will be published on Friday 4th June, we will explain how the appointments of Youcef Yousfi as the new Energy Minister and Noureddine Cherouati as Sonatrach's new PDG/CEO, along with the 31st May firings of Sonatrach's former top management, are part of the battle that has been fought between the p residency and the DRS since before the beginning of this year.

We will explain how these appointments, along with the dismissal of Energy Minister Chakib Khelil, the demotion of the formerly all-powerful Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni, and other ministerial changes are integral parts of a bitterly contested deal which has now seen Bouteflika losing out and having to return control of Sonatrach to the DRS.

We will also explain how and why this deal and the new management of both the Energy Ministry and Sonatrach, far from promising an 'opening up' and liberalisation of Algeria's hydrocarbons sector, is likely to lead to policies which will be damaging to both Algeria and most foreign interests in the sector.

For more news and expert analysis about Algeria please see Algeria Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.


  1. Unless we are very wrong - we have been witnessing a pretty ruthless re-taking of Sonatrach by the DRS over the last few days. According to our sources the DRS had nailed President Bouteflika, saying that they would o after former energy minister Chakib Khelil and pursue corruption probes until they get their men into running Sonatrach. This explains the installation of Noureddine Cherouati at Sonatrach and Youcef Yousfi at the Ministry - both are Prime Minister Ahmad Ouyahia's men who had been moved out by Boutef and Khelil over the years. Monday's presidential decree firing the former management was/is to stop the probes going much deeper into Boutef's 'Oujda' clan where they all came from.

    In short, the DRS are policemen who are interested in corruption and clan fights, and don't have the abilities to manage or understand the technologies and needs of Sonatrach in a globalised industry etc. While Youcef Yousfi and Noureddine Cherouati have competencies, they have been out of touch for a while and under Ouyahia they will probably operate even more nationalistically which will not be good for either the country or foreign interests.

    Part of the deal was also to rid of Interior Minister Zerhouni (by kicking him upstairs to deputy Prime Minister) and to basically get the police more back in line with the DRS by installing Dahou Ould Kablia, who used to be a senior intelligence officer from the days of the MALG (the DRS' predecessor), as Zerhouni's replacement.

    More about this in Algeria Politics & Security on Friday 4th June

  2. they are dick heads looking for money and rapping right of citizen but what Im sure is no longer left for them , most of our leader are over 65 year old so smile guys :) however in my point of view is the only way for algerian citizen to get out of them and from their bad plans is to try to get connected each other by Internet because is the only way the government has not full control on it lol thanks to technology !!!!!!!!!