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“I have two hearts. One German and one Turkish,” footballer Mesut Ozil said in 2018, when he announced he had ended his international career with the German national team.

After agreeing to join Turkish football club Fenerbahce after almost eight years at Arsenal, it appears one of those hearts is now beating loudest.

Since the rumours of Ozil’s move to Turkey were confirmed, football fans and politicians have made the German-born midfielder’s arrival “home” a sporting and political spectacle.

Istanbul’s Fenerbahce is one of the biggest clubs in Turkish and European football. Its fanbase includes both President Recep Tayyip Erdogan…

This article was first published on Middle East Eye

An Algerian businesswoman, rumoured to be the “hidden daughter” of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, lost her appeal on Thursday against a 12-year prison sentence.

Zoulikha-Chafika Nachinache, widely known as “Madame Maya”, had been imprisoned for money laundering “in the context of an organised criminal association”, “complicity in the abuse of office”, “requesting and accepting undue benefits through the use of a public official” and “complicity in the granting of undue benefits”.

A court in Tipaza, near the capital Algiers, upheld the sentences passed against Nachinache and 13 other defendants —…

Tunisian and Algerian officials are attempting to put the lid on tensions between the countries that have erupted over the US recognition of Western Sahara as Moroccan territory.

Tunisia’s foreign minister, Othman Jerandi, and the Algerian ambassador to Tunis, Azzouz Baalal, met on Tuesday in a bid to calm tensions following heated exchanges in recent days.

Jerandi reiterated the country’s “excellent relations” with Algeria and reinforced Tunisia’s position that relations between Tunisia and Algiers cannot be altered because of “unofficial positions which do not commit Tunisia in any way”.

The meeting came a day after comments made by former Tunisian…

This piece was first published on Middle East Eye at:

Decades of failed policy and reform drives that have amounted to little more than kicking the can down the road are catching up with the Algerian economy, as the dinar hit a new low this week and experts heralded more pain to come.

The decline of Algeria’s currency continues apace. On Thursday, the dinar was trading at 158.76 to the euro, and more than 200 on the black market.

The news has come as no surprise to many economists, who have been serving warnings of the perilous state of…

This story was published on Middle East Eye

The death of its leader is a severe blow to any militant group. But in succession, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) may have revealed its true weakness.

In a video posted online on 21 November, AQIM confirmed senior Algerian commander Abu Ubayda Yusuf al-Annabi would take leadership following the death of Abdelmalek Droukdel, who was killed in June by a French-led operation in Mali.

Annabi’s lack of operational and combat experience, compared with Droudkel, who rose to the head of AQIM in 2004 as an experienced battalion leader, has led…

This article was published on the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy web:

In an interview with French daily l’Opinion last month, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune stated how “no journalist has been arrested for being a journalist” — only for “the breaching of public order.”

The recent spate arrests and incarceration of journalists is a reality that is not reflected by Tebboune’s comments, and his crackdown — since taking office in December 2019 — has led to unprecedented restrictions on freedom of expression in the country, according to Amnesty International.

Following a largely-boycotted election, there was increased pressure to…

Condolences have been pouring in for a prominent Algerian war veteran after news of his death broke on Wednesday evening.

Lakhdar Bouregaa, a revered veteran of the war of independence against France and a figure in Algeria’s popular Hirak, died at the age of 87 after he was hospitalised in Algiers on 21 October after testing positive for Covid-19.

Earlier media reports stated that he would be buried in the El Alia cemetery in the capital, where prominent figures of the war of liberation and former heads of state are interred. …

This story first appeared on Middle East Eye

An Algerian journalist was hospitalised at the weekend after receiving numerous online threats over her work.

Abir Benrabah was transferred to intensive care on Sunday after feeling unwell.

Her ill health was reportedly due to the stress she was under after receiving a number of threats and blackmail over her work, which included uncovering online harassment faced by women and girls in the country.

Benrabah had been conducting a series of investigations on the subject and had written a report about a Facebook page called “Bnat Bladi (Girls of my Country)”…

This story first appeared in Middle East Eye

The campaign for Algeria’s constitutional amendment bill got going on 7 October, with the slogan: “November 1954: Liberation. November 2020: Change.” It was hoped the catchy phrase would convince Algerians to vote in the referendum on 1 November.

At his inauguration in December 2019, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, whose current hospitalisation makes it doubtful whether he will be overseeing Sunday’s vote, had pledged to revise the constitution. But he has been unable to convince the opposition, lawyers and ordinary frustrated Algerians of the sincerity of the proposals.

Back in January, a hand-picked…

This article first appeared on Middle East Eye

The Algerian minister of youth and sport has come under fire for making “unacceptable” remarks during the final week of campaigning ahead of next month’s referendum on proposed constitutional amendments.

“We will build a state in accordance with the declaration of 1 November (the day Algeria began its war of liberation from France); a democratic and social state within the framework of the principles of Islam,” Sid Ali Khaldi declared on Thursday.

“For the first time since independence, we have constitutionalised the declaration of 1 November and whoever is not happy…

Yasmina Allouche

Researcher/Journalist specialising in North Africa | Focus on Algeria |

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