“We will not sacrifice Rabat for Algiers”

FIGAROVOX/TRIBUNE – Last August, Emmanuel Macron traveled to Algeria to meet his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune. For Laurent Gayard, the revival of the Franco-Algerian dialogue should not be done to the detriment of neighboring countries, Morocco being the leader.

Laurent Gayard is a teacher and columnist for Revue des Deux Mondes, Revue Phébé, Magazine Causeur and Revue Conflits. He published Geopolitics of the Darknet. New frontiers and new uses of digital technology (ed. ISTE, 2018).

Emmanuel Macron’s trip to Algeria from August 25 to 27 is invested – even over-invested – with particular importance to the Élysée and part of the French media. Since the start of his first term, Emmanuel Macron has made Franco-Algerian reconciliation a personal matter. But in doing so and for many observers, the French president allowed himself to be trapped in the memory trap and the rhetoric of anger, which has become an important axis of Algeria’s foreign policy when it affects France. To the dangerous neglect of other possible, and more fruitful, alliances in the region.

The process of memorial reconciliation is unlikely to be successful as long as the military maintains that political influence in Algeria and it is in any way in the interest of the army or the Algerian government to bring this process to a successful conclusion. In a context of the energy crisis, due to the shortcomings of the French nuclear fleet and the war in Ukraine, the French executive imagined, with great naivety, to be able to re-enter the game of memory blackmail, in the hope natural gas from. Algiers could partly replace that from Moscow. And with even more madness, France is trying to promote a poor strategic and security partnership with Algeria, which shares 1,329 and 951 kilometers of borders with Mali and Niger, in which France has significant interests. in the field of uranium mining and where Paris also intends to continue the fight against the spread of jihadism, despite the recent conflict in Mali. This calculation is understandable but it also shows the continuation of a strategic reflection that is still trapped in the old postcolonial schemes, the same ones that Algiers continues to exploit to exploit the double energy and rent of memory. If energy and security require France not to neglect Algiers, nothing can force it to despise, in the name of its Algerian policy, other possible alliances in the region, and especially Morocco.

The revival of the Franco-Algerian dialogue can respond to an emergency, that of gas, but it is not certain that it will be part of a long-term security and strategic issue. The Algerian Republic in fact continues to strengthen long-standing ties with Moscow, and the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on May 10 preceded Emmanuel Macron’s in August. The strategic partnership with Russia, which remains the main supplier of arms to Algiers, has changed, in particular, the organization of joint military exercises in the Sahara last November within the framework… of the fight against terrorism. With the arrival of the mercenaries from the Wagner agency in neighboring Mali, left by the French troops at the request of the new military junta in power, nothing can be said that despite the good promises exchanged between Emmanuel Macron and Abdelmajid Tebboune, the French position is completely at the mercy of an Algerian change. Military failures in Ukraine may also push Russia to further strengthen its presence in Africa and its cooperation with Algeria, to the detriment of the French.

With 3,500 kilometers of coastline, Morocco is the only African country with a coastline on the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and the policy of Mohamed VI was determined to consolidate Moroccan influence in Africa.

Laurent Gayard

Unlike Algeria, which is extremely ambivalent, Morocco is a historical ally of the West, and the expression is not in vain if we consider that the Cherifian kingdom, whose creation began in 789 AD. JC, with the foundation of the city of Fez, which became the capital of the new kingdom in 791, was the first state to recognize the independence of the United States of America in 1777. The “special relationship” held between the United States and Morocco, in fact, is almost as old as that maintained between the United Kingdom itself and its former colonies. This historical fact, linked to the geographical fact, apparently makes Morocco a bridge between Africa, Europe and the transatlantic space. With 3,500 kilometers of coastline, Morocco is the only country in Africa with an Atlantic and a Mediterranean coast, and the policy of Mohamed VI, King of Morocco, who ascended the throne in 1999, resolutely returned to consolidating Moroccan influence. in Africa, but also associated with various European and American powers.

Some of these powers understood this very well and at first, Spain. The two countries maintain a common land border, thanks to the enclaves of Ceuta and Melila on the Moroccan coast, but also a common maritime border because the Moroccan coast is located only fourteen kilometers from closest point to the Spanish coast and from the island of. Parsley. In 2002, Morocco’s attempt to annex the island created a major diplomatic crisis between the two countries, but much has changed since then. On March 20, Morocco’s ambassador to Spain, Karima Benyaich, stated that her country appreciates Spain’s support for the proposal of Moroccan autonomy for the Sahara. “at its fair value”and pointed out that now a “new stage” opened about the relationship between the two countries. Relations between the two countries have actually improved to the point of making a real diplomatic honeymoon between Madrid and Rabat.

By wanting to bet too much on Algeria, France runs the risk of favoring alliances of convenience​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ It is important that Emmanuel Macron is not tempted to sacrifice Rabat for Algiers.

Laurent Gayard

Germany, another European power that maintains historical ties with Morocco, also seems determined to bet on this important country of 446,000 square kilometers and 37 million inhabitants. While Emmanuel Macron was in Algiers, Morocco received, at the same time, on August 27 and 28, the German Foreign Minister in Rabat. “There are no permanent friendships, no permanent feuds, only permanent interests”criticized, on the occasion of the visit of Minister Annalena Baerbock, the editorial of the newspaper Al AkhbarRachid Niny, in the edition of August 27 and 28. “Because our country’s relationship with traditional allies is not an eternal breast that can be sucked forever”continued the editorialist, in a barely veiled allusion to the relationship of interdependence skillfully maintained in Algiers with respect to Paris.

Because Morocco has every reason to regret that Paris, unlike Madrid, Berlin, or even Washington, tends to seriously neglect Franco-Moroccan relations in favor of the problematic Franco-Algerian “friendship”. In December 2021, Rabat thus protested against the French decision to divide the number of visas granted to the nationalities of Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, which are treated in the same way as the great neighbor of the Maghreb. The Paris decision is a retaliatory measure in the face of the difficulties of repatriating Maghreb nationals who are subject to deportation proceedings on French soil. but “Morocco has never refused to repatriate illegal immigrants, believes Chakib Benmoussa, Morocco’s ambassador to France, but the French police often send him Algerian or Tunisian people that he cannot take care of. “ Therefore we must consider the recent decision of the Moroccan authorities to suspend the consular pass of Imam Hassan Iquioussen, after the Council of State decided on his expulsion, as a way of protesting against a decision taken unilaterally , and without consulting the Moroccan authorities. In general, Morocco feels neglected and little supported by France, an extremely ambivalent partner, especially regarding the burning issues of managing migratory flows and the Sahara, at the heart of the Algerian-Moroccan tension. , a French ambivalence that instead benefits. its Algerian rival and from which Rabat wants to suffer a little, especially in view of the Arab summit in Algiers that will take place on the 1er and November 2 and where Mohamed VI announced that he still had to participate.

Relations between France and Morocco have definitely experienced improvements, and we remember the cooling of relations between the two countries at the beginning of the mandate of François Hollande. However, Rabat has many strengths to put forward, of which powers other than France are more clearly aware: the political stability, the diversity and dynamism of an economy where the tertiary sector has a great role, as well as the diplomatic recognition enjoyed. through the kingdom. By wanting to bet too much on Algeria, France runs the risk of favoring alliances of convenience​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ It is therefore important that Emmanuel Macron, in his race for memorial reconciliation and energy security, is not tempted to sacrifice Rabat for Algiers.

SEE ALSO – Macron in Algeria: “A successful visit”, according to Abdelmadjid Tebboune

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