Algeria's strongman shows signs of internal weakness in rivalry with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune

Algeria: military rift hits chief of staff Said Chengriha

photo_camera PHOTO/FILE - Chief of General Staff Said Chengriha

At least six Algerian army officers were reportedly arrested this month for allegedly plotting against the chief of staff, Said Chengriha, according to several specialised media, including Sahel Intelligence. Colonel Omar Ould Zmirli and Lieutenant Colonel Tarik Amirat, a former intelligence agent close to the brother of the late ex-president, Said Bouteflika, are among those accused of organising a plot against the Algerian strongman. 

The Ministry of Defence, in the hands of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, reacted immediately by announcing the dismissal of the head of the army's Central Security Directorate (DCSA), General Sid Ali Ould Zmirli, the brother of one of the alleged coup plotting officers and one of Chengriha's own prot茅g茅s.

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The Ministry dismissed the head of military intelligence without giving details and appointed in his place the veteran General Abdelaziz Nouiouet Chouiter, who retired four years ago. His return has been interpreted as part of plans to reorganise the military establishment, but the moves are not entirely clear. 

On the one hand, the chief of staff and de facto ruler of Algeria is allegedly the target of a coup plot; on the other, he is losing one of his most trusted men in the armed forces for the same reason. Chengriha had appointed Sid Ali Ould Zmirli just two years ago, after he became chief of staff following the death of Ahmed Ga茂d Salah, to take charge of the DCSA.

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Sid Ali Ould Zmirli's departure is reportedly linked to ongoing investigations into DCSA and foreign intelligence department (DGDSE) officials as a result of suspicions of disclosing state secrets and a plot against the army, according to The Africa Report.

The fall of the Zmirli brothers could have direct consequences for Said Chengriha's entourage, in particular his son, Chafik Chengriha. This commander trained in computer engineering has been living in Paris since 2020, where he is part of the military office of the Algerian Embassy. Colonel Omar Ould Zmirli, arrested in connection with the conspiracy, is in charge of his security.

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