Ahmed Taleb

It is always pleasant to converse with Ahmed Taleb-Ibrahimi, as the man contains various facets and remains, at 91, prolific by delivering messages as varied as they are instructive. Reading it is also a treat, because Taleb-Ibrahimi, who has a perfect command of both Arabic and French languages, is “a black box”, a prodigious memory of the contemporary history of our country, which he accompanied, as a committed actor and important from the middle of the last century, within the UGEMA, where he distinguished himself in his direction. A hematologist, Si Ahmed, son of Cheikh Bachir El Ibrahimi, participated in the founding of the Young Muslim, organ of the Ulemas, in the early 1950s. Because of his nationalist commitment, he was imprisoned from 1957 to 1962. After independence, he was notably Minister of Education and Foreign Affairs. His entire militant journey, Taleb-Ibrahimi recorded it in his Memoirs of an Algerian. This is his fourth volume, released this week, on his birthday (he was born on January 5, 1932 in Sétif), at the Casbah editions, just as attractive, if not more, than its predecessors, because it addresses recent, burning themes, revolving around “Fears and Hopes”, which constitute the framework of this work which retraces the events between 1988 and 2019, experienced and told by the author, active actor and privileged witness. I do not hide from you that I wanted to accompany this testimony with an interview with si Ahmed. I made the proposal to him in person, but his current, precarious health does not allow it. And that’s a shame. While waiting for a next meeting, we sincerely wish him a speedy recovery. This book is bound to be captivating because it dives into a crucial and dramatic period in the life of our country, from the first jolt of October 1988, described by some as “Ruckus of kids”, until the cancellation of Bouteflika’s 5th term and the advent of Hirak in 2019. Between these dates, tragic events marked the march of our country. As a balanced and hardly forgetful man, Si Ahmed, with proven greatness of soul, began by dedicating his work “In memory of Bélaïd Mohand Oussaïd, my 50-year-old collaborator and friend, who possessed the cardinal virtues of an authentic militant: competence, courage, probity and fidelity, who relieved me of many daily chores, so that I could devote myself , exclusively to the writing of this fourth volume. As a sign of gratitude and deep affection. From the outset, the author takes his readership to witness, relying on a verse from the Koran (the Heifer 283): “Don’t hide the testimony : he who conceals it, his heart is all sin”.Let’s begin with the end of this preamble, which this prolific politician gratifies with a beautiful legend that deserves to be quoted. “The Caliph Abassid ElMa’moun asks his uncle Abdullahibn al Hassan, who was of advanced age: ‘What do you have left of the pleasures of life?’ He replies: ”Two: the first is to play with small children and the second is to talk with the deaf, dumb, blind.” Al Ma’moun retorts: ”I understood the first, but what about the second?” » He explains to her “reading books, because they don’t importune you with their voice, don’t spy on you with their listening and don’t spy on you with their gaze”. If Ahmed continues: “I am no longer part of the government from November 7, 1988, when I presented my resignation to President Chadli on October 8, after 23 years in a row in the service of my country. Here I am with my loved ones and in the middle of my books to begin a new existence. “November 1988, I can blithely devote myself to my favorite hobby, of which I was almost deprived for 23 years. Reading. I bless the memory of my father (Cheikh El Bachir El Ibrahimi, editor’s note), who bequeathed me books and the love of books. If Ahmed evokes “the electoral defeat of June 1990, causing turmoil within the FLN which seems to be badly adapting to a multiparty system after 27 years of a single party. Even the tenors of the FLN met on October 27, 1990 to discuss the advisability of leaving the central committee. They are satisfied to sign a document, which insists in particular, on the confusion maintained between the Party and the State, on the chiaroscuro, which characterizes the economic choices and calls for an extraordinary meeting of the Central Committee. Instead of opening a dialogue, the power responds with invective, speaking of “illegal acquisitions” without specifying who he is targeting. “I reply that I have never ceased, before the Central Committee, to demand transparency, that is to say the publication of the list of the assets of all the high officials of the Party and the State.” On the return of Ben Bella, September 21, 1990, which sent him to the dungeon for 8 months, in 1964. “Everything he reproaches Boumediène for today is he who initiated him, whether it be the single party, socialism, self-management, etc. A few days ago, he regretted the nationalization of the lands in 1962. I regret that he did not also regret the humiliation of the torture he inflicted on thousands and thousands of his compatriots. “During the secret negotiations between the Presidency (represented by the President of the APN, Mr. Belkhadem and the leadership of the FIS, the departure of the head of government is decided” On Boudiaf, Si Ahmed reiterates the conclusions of the investigation, namely “the isolated act and the thesis of culpable and criminal negligence”. The author writes: “We still do not know the motivations and the identity of the sponsors of this criminal act. All we know is the identity and function of the alleged killer.” Evoking his memories, Si Ahmed recalls the years of prison in France where he rubbed shoulders with Boudiaf. “The bonds that are woven in prison, I discover, once again, are unbreakable. I remember that Boudiaf had appreciated, it was he who told me, that I was practically the only UGEMA official not to have made the trip from Tlemcen, where a good number of executives flocked to allegiance to Ahmed Ben Bella, in the hope of obtaining a post of minister or appearing on the list of deputies.

Bouteflika’s evasion

It is through the spokesman of the National Dialogue Commission that we learn that Bouteflika “after having given his agreement for the post of Head of State reconsidered his decision”. In truth, the army command, convinced by the lobbying of Larbi Belkheir, solicits Bouteflika, who begins by accepting, but after much discussion and procrastination ends up throwing in the towel. What really happened? We are in the presence of two versions. For Bouteflika, who visited me some time later, the army command’s offer was not sincere, because by asking him to appear before the CDN, it wanted to humiliate him, since the president of this commission (Youcef Khatib, editor’s note) had expressed its hostility to such a solution. Khaled Nezzar replies: “I would like to point out that there was never any question of having him appointed by the conference, since it had already closed the session. All the good reasons he will give later will only be evasions to hide his retreat. And he adds further, he had just proved, at the time of the test, that, hidden for a long time on the sides of a large burnous, he had only seemed great in the shadow of a tall one (Boumediene)! !! About the platform of San’t Egidio, in 1995 disputed by the power, Si Ahmed remained firm in his convictions. “I am received, on February 27, Zeroual begins by criticizing the holding of the meeting in Rome. I then ask him the question: ”Would you have authorized it to be held in Algiers with the same participants?” Silence. Then he tackles what is close to his heart. The presidential election. I answer him. To hastily organize these elections is to put the cart before the horse, because without prior agreement with the opposition, this election will be a sinister farce, whose turkey will certainly not be the people. In the presidential campaign, Si Ahmed, targeted by journalists, is bombarded with questions. Support for the FIS and the AIS, the general amnesty, the schooling of his children… He replies: “Nourished by the illusion of all security, relentless craftsmen or victims of the demonization of Islam, they saw in me the prototype of the perfect fundamentalist. If the one who performs his prayer behaves like a Muslim who respects Muslim values, is a fundamentalist, then I am. But as the debate progresses, I perceive in my interlocutors less aggressiveness. The usually hostile editorial in Le Soir d’Algerie clearly illustrates this trend. In the end, it turns out that the candidate I am is not the one they were told. Not fundamentalist at all. Rather very open to the world. Finally, Taleb-Ibrahimi had to, in all conscience, like the other candidates, withdraw, leaving the candidate for power alone on the stage. “The withdrawal of candidates has resulted in a regime that is legal but without legitimacy and therefore unable to respond successfully to the demands of reconciliation and change.” What does he learn from this? The elections of April 15, 1999 could indeed have caused a significant change, strategic and not tactical, in the treatment of the crisis by constituting the beginning of a solution, if the interest of the nation, and not the interest of a clan, had won… If Ahmed will recount in detail the setbacks of the Wafa party, which he created and did not approve, the tragic events in Kabylie in 2001, the fighting for the lifting of the state of emergency and the establishment of a real rule of law, of the electoral parody of April 8, 2004, of the plot against his candidacy, of misguided reconciliation, of absolute power, which corrupts absolutely, of Hirak, when the people decide to live… he book’s epilogue, or appendices, is devoted to the author’s meetings with politicians or cultural figures, such as Jaques Berque, Slimane Cheikh, Ali Merad, Hocine Ait Ahmed, Mohamed Arkoun, Assia Djebar, François Burgat, Malek Haddad, Nouredine Nait Mazi. Pages of history in all their rawness, in all their nudity.


Memoirs of an Algerian, volume 4 fears
and hopes (1988-2019) casbah editions January 2023 1500 da

Ahmed Taleb-Ibrahimi: Memoirs of an Algerian « Fears and hopes (1988-2019)