Written by Marko Milicevic exclusively for SouthFront
Algeria is planning to build its first nuclear power plant until 2026.1 On Tuesday, the Algerian Commissariat of Atomic Energy (Comena) and Russia’s Rosatom have held talks regarding the project and Russia’s help and experience in this field, which would be more than welcomed.
Regarding Algeria’s foreign policy, two important meetings took place. First, Acting Director-General for Common Foreign and Security Policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia Tomaz Lovrencic met the secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abdelhamid Senouci Bereksi on Wednesday.2 They discussed ways to improve the bilateral relations, especially the economic relations.
Second, on Wednesday in Cairo, the Minister of Maghreb Affairs, African Union and Arab League Abdelkader Messahel met with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Choukri.3 The discussion was focused on the “bilateral relations between the two countries and the main issues on the agenda of the 145th session of the League’s council at the level of ministers on Thursday.”
Finally, on Monday, a security source said that Algerian special troops killed a leader of an Islamic State-linked terror group.4 Mouloud Dahane, also known as Abu al-Mundir, was killed in Oued Sebt (province of Tipaza) on Sunday. The operation was based on intelligence tips from sources operating “on the ground”.
On Friday, Egyptian veteran diplomat Ahmed Aboul-Gheit was named Secretary General of the Arab League unanimously (22 votes for).5 He was the only contender for the post. Aboul-Gheit was born in 1942 and joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1965. He was appointed as the permanent Egyptian ambassador to the UN in 1999. In 2004, he was appointed to the position of Egyptian Foreign Minister.
On Sunday, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi agreed with his Macedonian counterpart on enforcing bilateral cooperation in the economic and investment sectors. “The executive bodies in both countries will work on prospective opportunities in the economic and trade sectors”, Al-Sisi said. They have also talked about the recent developments in the Middle East and in North Africa (especially the migrant crisis), and their effects on Europe.6
Libya’s UN-backed Presidential Council (Unity Government), based in Tunis, has taken office on Sunday despite the lack of parliamentary approval. They have called on the international community to help and enable them to take power from the two warrying governments based in Tobruk and Tripoli.7 It is essential for Libya to have a Unity Government in practice, and not only in theory because only an undivided government can put an end to ISIS in this failed state.
A new UN report suggests that “the Islamic State has significantly expanded its control over the territory in conflict-torn Libya, helped by a political and security vacuum.”8 The organization’s power lies in marginalized communities in many Libyan towns, such as Sirte, Sabratha, Tripoli etc., and also in foreign fighters (mostly contractors with regular paychecks). Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said, “Daesh has up to 5,000 fighters in Libya”.9 They are not only a threat for the Libyan security, but can also be a great threat for the neighboring countries, primarily Tunisia.
Morocco accused the Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-moon of being biased on the Western Sahara issue.10 Ki-moon called on both sides (Rabat and Polisario Front) to find a political solution to end the 40-year conflict in the disputed desert territory. He added that the UN mission to the region was “prepared to hold a referendum if there is an agreement between the parties”. The Secretary General responded a few days later saying that he believes that both he and the UN are neutral partners in the Western Sahara issue”.11 Hundreds of thousands of Moroccans took part in a big demonstrations in protest of the UN chief’s remarks.12
Last week, some states confirmed or pledged their support to Morocco’s claims. France confirmed their support for Morocco’s autonomy plan.13 Foreign Ministry spokesperson Romain Nadal also said that France welcomes the UN mediation regarding the Sahara issue. The Republic of Suriname withdrew its recognition (August 21, 1982) of the so-called “SADR”. “This decision is motivated by its desire to adopt a constructive neutrality to support the efforts made by the United Nations and the international community to find a mutually acceptable political solution”, Suriname’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation said.14
South Sudan became a member of the East African Community (EAC) on March 10th.15 The EAC urged its newest member to speed up the ratification and the deposition of the EAC Treaty to enhance integration with the fellow partner states.
At the same time, a UN report underlines that South Sudan is facing “one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world”.16 US-backed government in the 5-year old state is accused of allowing the rape of women, attacks on civilians and other violations. Children are used as soldiers by all sides, which is particularly concerning.
Sudan – “The Fighting between the Sudanese government forces and the rebels in the mountainous area of Darfur has forced more than 102,700 people to flee their homes since mid-January”, the United Nations said.17 The war in Darfur started in 2003. As many as 300 thousand people have died and 2.5 million have been displaced since then, according to UN estimates. Sudan received a significant humanitarian aid on Monday. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has received a $4.9 million grant from Japan to address the basic needs of children in the conflict affected states of South Darfur, East Darfur, South Kordofan and West Kordofan.18
Tunisia – On Monday (March 7th) a terrorist attack took place in the town of Ben Guerdane, near the border with Libya, and the final death toll is 36 terrorists, 12 security forces, 7 civilians. In addition, 14 other security officers have been injured, as well as three civilians.19 The Tunisian security forces managed to locate and kill additional 10 terrorists two days later in a broad operation aiming to locate and eliminate all members of the ISIS cell that planed the attack. If the approach in fighting terrorism doesn’t change in the whole region, ISIS will quickly spread its influence in Libya’s neighboring countries.
- “Russia in talks over Algeria’s first nuclear power plant”, Power Engineering International, accessed March 15, 2016, http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2016/03/russia-in-talks-over-algeria-s-first-nuclear-power-plant.html
- “Slovenia seeks to strengthen relations with Algeria”, Algeria Press Service, accessed March 15, 2016, http://www.aps.dz/en/algeria/11358-slovenia-seeks-to-strengthen-relations-with-algeria
- “Messahel discusses with Egyptian Foreign Minister in Cairo”, Algeria Press Service, accessed March 15, 2016, http://www.aps.dz/en/algeria/11366-messahel-discusses-with-egyptian-foreign-minister-in-cairo
- “Algeria says kills leader of IS-linked terror group”, China, accessed March 15, 2016, http://www.china.org.cn/world/2016-03/14/content_38023763.htm
- “Arab League elects Ahmed Aboul-Gheit as new chief”, Al Jazeera, accessed March 15, 2016, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/03/arab-league-elects-ahmed-aboul-gheit-chief-160311090316874.html
- “Al-Sisi, Macedonian counterpart agree on enforcing cooperation”, Balkan News, accessed March 15, 2016, http://www.balkanews.org/index.php/2016/03/13/al-sisi-macedonian-counterpart-agree-on-enforcing-cooperation/
- “Libya conflict: Tunis-based unity government claims power”, BBC, accessed March 15, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-35796482
- “IS gaining territory in Libya: UN report”, SBS, accessed March 15, 2016, http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/03/11/gaining-territory-libya-un-report
- “Italy: Daesh has up to 5,000 fighters in Libya”, Albawaba, accessed March 15, 2016, http://www.albawaba.com/news/italy-daesh-has-5000-fighters-libya-815132
- “UN chief’s Western Sahara comments anger Morocco”, Middle East Eye, accessed March 15, 2016, http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=75667
- “UN chief’s rejects Rabat criticism on Western Sahara”, Middle East Eye, accessed March 15, 2016, http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=75690
- “Huge Moroccan protests against UN chief stance on W. Sahara”, accessed March 15, 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/03/13/huge-moroccan-protests-against-un-chief-stance-on-w-sahara.html
- “France Reiterates Support to Moroccan Autonomy Plan”, Morocco World News, accessed March 15, 2016, http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2016/03/181670/france-reiterates-support-to-moroccan-autonomy-plan/
- “Suriname withdraws its Recognition of Polisario’s Self-proclaimed SADR”, Morocco World News, accessed March 15, 2016, http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2016/03/181727/suriname-withdraws-its-recognition-of-polisarios-self-proclaimed-sadr/
- “EALA urges South Sudan to formalize membership”, The New Times, accessed March 15, 2016, http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2016-03-10/197869/
- “The human rights situation in South Sudan is ‘horrendous,’ says UN report”, The Star, accessed March 15, 2016, http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/03/11/the-human-rights-situation-in-south-sudan-is-horrendous-says-un-report.html
- “Clashes in Sudan’s Darfur Force 103,000 to Flee Homes, UN Says”, Bloomberg, accessed March 16, 2016, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-10/clashes-in-sudan-s-darfur-force-103-000-to-flee-homes-un-says
- “Japan grants UNICEF $4.9m for emergency interventions in Sudan’s war affected areas”, Sudan Tribune, accessed March 16, 2016, http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article58301
- “Terrorist Attacks in Tunisia (final toll): 36 terrorists, 12 security forces, 7 civilians killed”, Algeria Press Service, accessed March 16, 2016, http://www.aps.dz/en/world/11324-attacks-in-tunisia-final-toll-36-terrorists,-12-security-forces,-7-civilians-killed