Another crisis has hit bilateral relations between Paris and its former colony, Algeria. This time, the Algerian authorities seem to have found an effective way to put pressure on their French counterparts.
On October 2, Algeria recalled its ambassador to France, rejecting “any interference in its internal affairs.”
The decision to recall the ambassador was justified by “irresponsible” statements attributed to French President Emmanuel Macron.
“Faced with these irresponsible statements, the President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, decided to immediately summon Algeria’s ambassador to France for consultations,” the press service of Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboun claimed.
Algerian President Abdelmajid Tibboun called Macron’s words “irresponsible” and insulting the memory of people who died during the colonial rule of France.
The press service of the Algerian President did not clarify what exact statements provoked such a sharp reaction, but it is likely related to an article published by the French newspaper Le Monde on October 2. The article was published following Macron’s meeting with the descendants of the main heroes of the 1962 Algerian war.
According to the article, Macron claimed that Algeria was ruled by a “political-military system”. He reportedly considered that Algerian authorities had “completely rewritten” the history of their country, and it is “not based on facts” but on “a discourse based on hatred of France.”
The newspaper added that he made clear that he was not referring to Algerian society as a whole but to the ruling elite.
These claims were not denied by Paris and were widely spread by the Algerian media.
Macron’s statements were likely not the only reason of the aggravation of the crisis. The current tensions came over a French decision to sharply reduce the number of visas it grants to citizens of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
Earlier this week, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said that Paris was tightening visa requirements for citizens of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. According to Attal, the decision was made due to the fact that the authorities of these countries “do not take back” their citizens who are illegally coming to France and have to leave its territory.
In its turn, Algeria has described the French decision as an “unfortunate act” that caused “confusion and ambiguity as to its motivation and its scope”.
Recalling its ambassador, Algiers demonstrates its protest against the French official narrative. This is the second time it has done this in recent years. It also had recalled its ambassador in May 2020 after French media broadcasted a film about the so-called Revolution of Smiles in Algeria in 2019.
However, the current political crisis may have more important consequences for France, as it threatens its strategic presence in the Sahel region of Africa.
Along with recalling its ambassador, Algeria has closed its airspace for French military aircraft. The Algerian territory is of strategic importance as it is regularly used by French warplanes to reach the Sahel region, where the Barkhane operation continues.
The effectiveness of the French military presence in the African region has already been questioned by the Malian authorities, who recently turned to the Russian PMCs for help in their fight against terrorists after France’s decision to reduce its military contingent there.
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