Die algerische „Business Class“ ist in Aufregung. Nach manchen Berichten bereiten regierungsnahe Zirkel ihre Flucht ins Ausland vor, da sie in den letzten Jahrzehnten unermessliche Werte privatisiert und ins Ausland geschafft haben. Es geht um Milliarden Euro aus dem Öl-, dem Rüstungs- und dem Kokaingeschäft. Nun legt die Carnegie Endowment for International Peace einen Report vor, in dem sie minutiös die algerische Geschäftswelt auflistet und den Absetzbewegungen von Bouteflika zuordnet, die sich angeblich aus lauteren Geschäftsinteressen formieren. Hier Auszüge des Reports. Wird die Geschäftswelt als möglicher Ansprechpartner für die avisierte algerische Transformation in Anschlag gebracht?
Algeria’s recent protests have highlighted existing divisions within the business class that are only likely to widen further.
On March 11, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced that he was withdrawing from running for a fifth presidential term, in response to a wave of protests that has shaken Algeria’s political system. Yet neither have these protests spared the country’s business class. Since the protests started on February 22, several high-profile defections from within Algeria’s prominent business organization, the Business Leaders Forum (Forum des Chefs d’Entreprise, FCE) were an early indication that the regime was losing support from its core constituencies. In early March, Mohamed Laid Benamor, CEO of the agri-food company Benamor Group; Mohamed Arezki Aberkane, CEO of steel manufacturer Sogemetal; Hassan Khelifati, owner of Alliance Assurances; and Madjid Meddahi of the Granitex firm (which specializes in building materials) resigned from the FCE in protest at the forum’s open support for Bouteflika running on the 2019 presidential ballot.
Their resignations have sent a clear signal that even the Algerian regime’s core constituencies are showing widening fissures, with an increasing number of people willing to stand publicly against the sitting president and in favor of the protest movement. That several high-profile businessmen have done this is even more remarkable, as their resignations have highlighted FCE Chairman Ali Haddad’s increasingly weak position and contributed to isolating Bouteflika, thus paving the way for his eventual decision to renounce running. Over the past few years, Haddad has played a key role in securing the support of Algeria’s business class for Bouteflika, contributing to the widespread perception that these entrepreneurs are oligarchs that have benefited from their close connections to the political power.
Since Haddad became head of the FCE in 2014, the relationship between businesses and the Bouteflika faction has become increasingly evident. The deal between these two sides has been that the regime provides all the support, protection, and contracts the entrepreneurs need in return for the FCE’s explicit backing and, most importantly, generous financing for Bouteflika’s electoral campaigns.
Indeed, for years domestic and external observers alike have assumed the business elite have been staunchly supportive of Bouteflika. Under his presidency, an emerging class of increasingly self-assertive entrepreneurs has thrived, benefiting from the end of the civil war and the recycling of oil revenues into the non-hydrocarbon economy through government contracts and various forms of protectionism. Shielded from domestic and international competition, entrepreneurs such as Ali Haddad, Karim Kouninef of the KouGC construction company, Mahieddine Tahkout of the automobile manufacturing Takhout Company, and others have successfully diversified their portfolios, building conglomerates that dominate the Algerian economy.
This arrangement has been part of the presidential faction’s attempt to centralize rent management and gradually muscle out other competing patronage networks within the regime. Since his election in 1999, Bouteflika has aimed to impose his authority within the country by carefully strengthening his clientelist network at the expense of the army generals and, later, the military intelligence. While this effort has been relatively successful in reducing these groups’ influence, the Algerian polity has remained stubbornly divided into a series of power networks that have prevented the presidential faction from establishing a monopoly over society and the business sector. […]