Despite constant French provocations, Turkey and Algeria have found the momentum to strengthen bilateral ties
Algeria-Turkey: Ambitious strategic rapprochement
BY ABDENNOUR TOUMIOP-ED
OCT 28, 2021 12:05 AM GMT+3
The flags of Turkey and Algeria. (Photo by Shutterstock)
Despite constant French provocations, Turkey and Algeria have found the momentum to strengthen bilateral tiesThe year 2021 is ending with drastic diplomatic developments that have improved Algeria-Turkey relations. In the aftermath of Algerian Energy Minister Mohamed Arkab's call to form a new partnership with Turkey in the energy and mining sectors under Algeria's new hydrocarbon regulations, relations in the field of energy have gained momentum. The total cost of the bilateral project stands at around $1.4 billion (TL 13.35 billion). Turkey's Renaissance Holding, which is considered one of the world's largest international construction companies, owns a 66% stake, while Algeria's national state-owned oil company Sonatrach owns 34%. The project aims to produce polypropylene plastic used in several industries, including cars and textiles.
The Algeria-Turkey deal was launched in January 2020 in light of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's state visit to Algeria following Abdelmadjid Tebboune's election victory. In fact, Erdoğan’s visit raised Algeria’s strategic importance for Turkey to a new high. The Turkish government offered key economic and cultural incentives to Algeria that allowed both countries to hold onto their socioeconomic and geoeconomic needs and interests.
Hesitation and observationIn Algeria, before the project, bold decisions for a strategic rapprochement with Turkey had been expected. The new head in Algeria was hesitant but at the same time, a foreign policy shift had been on the horizon. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Algeria experienced an internal political struggle and was subjected to constitutional and institutional agendas. On the one hand, there was the tenacious resistance of the Francophone and Arabophone anti-Ottoman legacy. On the other, the well-off, pro-France lobbies in Algiers and Paris. Not everyone held Tebboune back from making the choice to enhance relations between Turkey and Algeria.
Meanwhile, the countries' respective ambassadors worked tirelessly toward a strategic rapprochement between the nations. Algeria's ambassador to Ankara, Mourad Adjabi, who was behind the proactive diplomacy between the two nations, was called for another mission in Gaborone, Botswana. One has to mention the role of the two countries’ ambassadors, his excellency Adjabi and her excellency Mahinur Özdemir Göktaş, Turkey's ambassador to Algeria, as they have injected fresh blood into the decades of cold relations between the two nations.
The once frosty relations were only admired by fanatic secularists in the national media, notably print Francophone sources, which have attempted to tarnish Turkey’s leadership in the region, using fallacious arguments against Ankara and Erdoğan.
The straw that broke the camel’s backMeanwhile, there has been an ongoing diplomatic crisis between Algiers and Paris. The crisis is constantly provoked by French President Emmanuel Macron’s decisions and statements for electoral hearsay. For example, his controversial statements about the thorny question of illegal Maghreb and Sahel countries and deporting immigrants to their countries of origin. On this issue, Algerian diplomatic authorities in France have been refusing to pursue the deportation process for legal and national security reasons. Consequently, Paris responded by severely restricting visas granted to citizens from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Nevertheless, Algiers did use the conventional diplomatic tool, applying the principle of reciprocity. But the straw that broke the camel's back amid the tumultuous relations between the two countries was undoubtedly Macron's amateurish statement about the history of the Algerian nation. In an operation to charm the electorate, the French president met with a group of young people of Algerian descent, who, respectfully, are familiar with Algeria's bloody liberation war (1954-1962).
Chronologically, since the election of Tebboune, Algeria-France relations did shift from "love-hate" to "let’s have a break" at times. Macron and the French deep state’s influential lobbies in Paris did not swallow the fall of late Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's system and the oligarchs who sponsored Macron's presidential campaign in 2017. They bet on the ramifications of the 2019 Hirak protests, hoping relations between the two countries would continue business as usual.
On the contrary, Algiers did set the tone and political behavior, showing new imperatives. This started with a new military doctrine established in the November 2019 Constitution, later foreign policy determinants and objectives were set. Within these new foreign policy determinants and objectives, the demystification of relations between Algeria and France is featured at every level as the country chooses to follow a new diplomatic paradigm of multiplying its partnerships based on mutual respect.
Algiers has now chosen its strategic allies according to its national security and economic interests – a move that Paris did not want to see. Paris' foreign policy has been scoring poorly recently in the trans-Atlantic, Indo-Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Sahel. Therefore, France's diplomatic prestige and “hegemony” in the world are declining.
Algiers did not hesitate to take a stand against Paris over the visas measures and Macron's arrogant statement against Algerian authorities. Algiers moved against Macron, calling its envoy in Paris back and banning French military aircraft in its national airspace. In this diplomatic base ball game, the narrative of the story is changing the post-modern history, now Algeria’s home run against France has shifted the balance, and will likely smoothen prudent Turkey-Algeria relations.
Amateurism vs. consequencesWhat Macron did in three weeks (provoking Algerian leaders with a solemn meeting with the Harki community, imposing harsh measures on visas and the stunning statement about Algeria’s national history) has demonstrated the French president's diplomatic amateurism and only encouraged the pro-Turkey advocates in Algeria and abroad to come up with a credible trajectory to counter Paris' ideologized foreign policy and neocolonial paradigm.
In this favorable context, the new leaders in Algeria seem to be finding a new way to break through to France and position themselves as serious partners, rather than minions. This is the mentality being adopted by Algeria's new leaders. The recent developments in the Sahel combined with the remarkable comeback of Algeria’s active and preemptive diplomacy in both the Sahel and the African continent are intruding on Pairs a great deal.
Analysts argue that the main reason for the ongoing diplomatic crisis between Algiers and Paris is Mali. What did Mali do wrong? The Malian military authorities in Bamako have demonstrated their anger toward Paris since last year's military coup. They recently welcomed Russia's role in Mali – a position that would not have had been acceptable without Algiers okay. Geopolitics is reshaping the landscape of the entire Sahel region and new regional powers are on the rise, i.e, Turkey is gaining posture in the Sahel. The Turkish Parliament voted to extend the deployment of troops in Mali and the Central African Republic for another year within the scope of the U.N.-approved EU peacekeeping mission.
The Algiers-Moscow-Ankara axis being put in place is another thorn in the French foot that Paris is unwilling to accept. What was once France's backyard is now disappearing. All these rapid developments would irritate Macron, who is facing a rough election season. This crucial presidential election has reached a level of selective stupidity akin to the selective narration of history dictated by Macron and Eric Zemmour, the darling of French Islamophobes, who question Algeria and trivialize the evil French atrocities in Algeria.
Yet, Macron likes controversial journalist Zemmour. One is the president and the other wants to be the next president. Both politicians are using history and culture in neocolonial parameters to seduce their respective voters.
In sum, history unjustly separated the two brave nations and the people of Algeria and Turkey. Today the two countries do share geopolitical and geoeconomic stands as a new generation of politicians, diplomats and academics in both countries manifest their will for the reunification process that France has been taking for granted for six decades.
Algeria is on the cusp of its 60th anniversary of independence that released it from the harshest of occupations that saw the bloodiest of wars over the span of 132 years. The time has come for nations to reconnect with their common history, deep civilizations and fulfill their destiny calling for a renaissance.