Middle East Eye has provided the back story on the recent conviction and five-year sentence meted out to Algeria's retired General Abdelkader Ait Ourabi [a/k/a General Hassan] at a secret court-martial in Oran. In part:
"We knew from the beginning that the trial [of Hassan] would not be fair," said a separate DRS [Algerian secret services] officer who also spoke to MEE on the condition of anonymity.
"In September, Gaid Salah had deliberately placed a new prosecutor at the head of Oran’s tribunal just for Hassan because some military judges refused to endorse the trial. He wanted to make it clear that he was the leader. This is not good for the military, which must pledge allegiance to a country, not to a man."
Most commentators now agree that General Hassan will serve as an example to others to get in line.
General Djamel Kehal Medjdoub, former head of the presidential guard, was also charged in late November for "negligence" and "a breach of military instructions" during a shooting at the presidential residency in July that was considered an assassination attempt or a possible coup.
Akram Kharief, a specialist on defense issues and moderator of the Secret Difa3 blog, said, however, that it was necessary to contextualise the prosecution.
"Many officers inside the army and the DRS have welcomed the turn of events," he told MEE. "Especially among young officers who, since the 2002 purges [which saw several high-ranking retirements] suffer a kind of inertia and 'mediocracy' and saw their careers blocked by these old military chiefs, who were glued to their posts but failed to modernise the institution despite the restructuring plans that have been outlined."
A similar view was echoed by political scientist Rashid Tlemcani, who said he hoped to place the events in "the broader context of civil-military relations’ consolidation”.
"We are witnessing the end of the Cold War generation. To survive, the DRS must restructure and may finally integrate the young officers trained abroad who had been sidelined," he told MEE, while recognising that it is impossible to ignore the context of "clan war" between the presidency and the DRS.
"Then, the reading is simple: the presidential circle has won, so it eliminates the elements that cause problems,” he said.