The political crisis, which led to the removal of President Bouteflika, has caused an unprecedented series of changes at the head of Algerian Intelligence agencies.
On the one hand, this led to a generational renewal, that allowed the arrival of sexagenarians who did not experience the Algerian war, at the head of the “agencies”. This constitutes an important political new order of things. This is likely to overcome the usual division between the former members of the French army and those of the ALN (“National Liberation Army”, the armed wing of the FLN – “National Liberation Front” -, during the Algerian War). Moreover, it is also the opportunity for a sweet revenge for those who are known in the jargon of the Algerian Intelligence agencies as the “Operationals”. These are the officers who waged the anti-terrorist war against the GIA (“Armed Islamic Group”) rebellion in the 1990s and who were marginalized as a result of President Bouteflika’s policy of “national reconciliation”. Sometimes they were humiliated, as was the case for the former head of anti-terrorism, Abdelkader Ait Ouarab, alias “General Hassan”, imprisoned in August 2014.
Ironically, this resurgence of the “Operationals” was made on the occasion of the fall of their former leader, General Othman Tartag, alias “Bachir”, brutally sacked by the Chief of Staff the day after Bouteflika’s resignation.
Tartag had been appointed coordinator of the Directorate of Security Services (DSS), which took over from the famous DRS, dismantled in 2015 following the dismissal of its emblematic leader, General Mohamed Mediène, alias “Toufik”. Acting as the go-between between Said Bouteflika and General Toufik during the “manoeuvres of the last few hours”, which preceded and precipitated Bouteflika’s removal, General Tartag paid the price for the failure of the Toufik clan’s plan to create a constitutional vacuum with the aim of establishing a collective presidency as in 1992. This led to the spectacular arrest on May 4 of Said Bouteflika, Toufik and Tartag, both accused of high treason.
According to sources close to the military command, the Chief of Staff, General Ahmed Gaïd Saleh, demanded and obtained from President Bouteflika, on the very day of his resignation, a presidential decree terminating Tartag’s functions. The same sources claim that Tartag’s successor is General Mohamed Kaïdi, who was previously head of the Defence Operations Centre (COD) within the staff. His appointment has not been formalized, because the position of DSS coordinator, which he now occupies in place of Tartag, was until now attached to the President of the Republic, who appoints him by decree, while General Gaïd Saleh would like to “repatriate” him to the general staff.
The other general to pay the price for the alliance aborted in General Toufik and Said Bouteflika, is one of the last figures of the “old guard” of Algerian intelligence. This is General Abdelkader, who was dismissed on 6 April from his position as head of the all-powerful Directorate of Internal Security (DSI). His successor is General Wassini Bouazza, who was previously Central Director of Infrastructure at the Ministry of Defence.
On the very day of General Abdelkader’s dismissal, Ali Bendaoud, former military attaché in Paris, was disembarked from the Directorate of External Security (DSE). A position he held for barely a month: he was appointed by the Bouteflika clan on March 13 to replace General Mohamed Bouzit. His successor, Colonel El Ouanès Skouret, was previously the head of the Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Operational Coordination Unit, which reports to the Central Directorate of Army Security (DCSA).
The same DCSA saw its leader, General Ali Benzemerli, leave the Services in his turn. His successor is also a prominent figure in the “operational” field. This is Colonel Nabil, alias “Bob”, who was previously the director of the Main Military Investigation Centre (CPMI).
– September 1957: Creation of the MALG, the ancestor of the Algerian Services.
– September 1962: Creation of military security (MS), under the aegis of Colonel Kasdi Merbah.
– November 1987: the DM is split into two: the Army Security (SA) and the General Delegation for Prevention and Security (DGPS).
– October 1988: the DGPS becomes the DRS, Department of Intelligence and Security, under the aegis of General Mohamed Mediène.
– January 2016: Dissolution of the DRS, following the dismissal of its leader by the Bouteflika clan in September 2015.