By Ahmed FAOUZI
At the time when Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune was taking the plane to complete his treatment in Germany, his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sabri Boukadoume, took the direction of South Africa and certain countries in the region, for attempt to reinvigorate the diplomatic health of his country.
The Head of State was evacuated to Germany, urgently, in October 2020 to undergo treatment against the Covid. He stayed there for two months for treatment, leaving the country in limbo. This sadly reminded Algerians of the long illness of former President Bouteflika who, following his stroke in 2013, continued to govern with difficulty until his deposition in 2019.
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Tebboune’s return to Algeria at the end of December 2020 was dictated by the need to quickly promulgate the budget for the coming year 2021, as well as the new constitution voted on 1is November. For the Army, which really holds the power, the urgency was elsewhere. Feeling asphyxiated by the conflicts that beset her from all sides, in Libya, in Mali mainly, she was taken aback by the tripartite agreements, concluded on December 22, 2020, between Morocco, the United States and Israel.
The se included four very distinct areas between Morocco and Israel: the abolition of visas for holders of diplomatic passports, the agreement on civil aviation, another more technical on water management, then finally an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation. With the United States, a memorandum of understanding was signed with theUnited States International Finance Corporation- DFC- to strengthen investments between the United States and the private sector of Morocco and sub-Saharan African countries. The envelope dedicated to this program is $ 3 billion, a budget that will be managed by a project branch which will be established in Morocco for this purpose.
The day after this announcement, on December 23, 2020, while the Algerian president is still hospitalized in Germany, the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sabri Boukadoum, takes up the Russian presidency and asks to speak to the special representative of the President for the Middle East and Africa, Michail Bogdanov, according to the Russian site Sputnik. This request, according to the same source, took place at the initiative of the Algerian party, the subject of which was centered on the tripartite agreements signed the day before in Rabat, and more particularly the recognition by Washington of the Moroccan character of the Sahara. Faced with this Algerian intervention, Moscow remained attached to its official position of the centrality of the United Nations on this question.
Two weeks later, on January 7, 2021, it was for the United States Assistant Secretary for the Near East and North Africa, David Schenker, to go to Algiers to further clarify his country’s position. In front of a stunned audience, he declared that there would be no solution to this regional dispute except within the framework of the autonomy proposed by Morocco. The Algerian authorities take note, display their disagreement, and accuse the blow, without wanting to offend the Americans too much. Schenker will travel to Morocco afterwards to reiterate the same American position, this time from the Saharan provinces.
As always when it loses its footing, Algerian diplomacy turns to its traditional allies, such as Venezuela or South Africa, to find support for its theses. In Africa, she is still targeting South Africa and certain neighboring countries which still believe in her thesis but without great conviction. Nigeria is not part of this journey, which augurs a change of position of this country on the Saharan affair.
Algerian diplomacy generally prefers to convince countries far from the region, which know little about its history and the genesis of the conflict resulting from the Cold War. Boukadoun’s visit to Pretoria falls within this framework. In these times of the Covid pandemic, where diplomatic meetings are often done by video-conference, the fact of taking the trouble to make this long journey shows how desperate Algerian diplomacy is.
The result of this visit are, after all, warmed-up press releases that do not add anything new, except to recall principles that have shown their limits in the past: the countries express their concerns about the evolution of the issue of Sahara and the military escalations experienced by the region. The y ask the Secretary General of the United Nations to quickly appoint a Special Envoy to the Sahara. The same terms, the same logic for a file which the great powers believe has lasted long enough and that it is time to close it around regional autonomy within the Kingdom of Morocco.
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