Monday, 21 March 2011

The dissolution of the DRS

There is very rarely much reference to, least of all discussion about, the DRS in the media. It is perhaps significant that El Watan , in particular, has devoted quite a lot of column space this week to its inevitable reconstitution.

We have frequently opined that the DRS cannot continue in its current form and must inevitably be restructured. Its fundamental problem is that the nature of its mandate ' the security of the state' inevitably means that it, or rather its director, accrues more and more power to himself, to the point that a series of ' strong men' , now General Mohamed Mediène, acquire so much power that they effectively become the 'state' , or at least its most powerful person.

That, in itself, is a threat to the state's security, as we have seen throughout much of the last few years in the case of Mediène. Chadli succeeded in restructuring it for a while. Zeroual tried and failed. Bouteflika also tried and failed.

The fact that newspapers such as El Watan can give long editorial discussion to the subject, questioning whether the DRS is actually the department of intelligence and security or the ' real power' , and can openly discuss proposals that it should be radically reconstituted (as Chadli had almost succeeded in doing), is indicative of the mode taking hold in the country for ' significant' and perhaps even ' radical' change.

Indeed, the FFS , which is now beginning to play a more prominent role in the call for radical change, has long argued for the ' necessary dissolution' of the ' political police', arguing that the existence and practices of political police (such as the DRS ) are incompatible with a state based on law. Again, the media, in the principle form of El Watan , has given much space this week to the expression of the views of the FFS ' first secretary, Karim Tabbou, whose arguments on why the political police should be done away with will not make comfortable reading for General Mediène.

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

© 2011 Menas Associates

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