Algeria has repeatedly denied any involvement in the on-going French military operations in the Sahel.
Washington D.C. – Algeria’s People National Army (ANP) was quick to dismiss news of Algerian troops supporting the French led military operations in the Sahel as propaganda aimed at offending national institutions.
Algerian officials were swift and condemnatory accusing Morocco and its “Zionist allies” of fabricating the story. For his part, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune confirmed that his country would not send troops to the Sahel region any time soon but did not deny the news report.
However, French President Macron announced during a televised press conference that Algerian troops are operating in the French campaign to root out terrorists from the Sahel; thus, exposing the lies and misinformation that the ANP have been feeding the Algerian people. This hypocrisy is disgraceful for an institution that pretended for years to reject all foreign involvement in African affairs.
In a desperate attempt to please and placate the Algerian Military, the French Embassy in Algiers posted on its Facebook page a denial stating that “At the conference of heads of state of the G5 Sahel countries, President Macron never affirmed that Algeria had committed to a military intervention within the framework of [a Sahel} force. “
The Embassy’s move is degrading and humiliating to the Algerian people. When and where does a diplomatic mission ever issue a Facebook post to deny or correct a Presidential statement? If President Macron “misspoke”, it is the responsibility of the Élysée Palace or the Foreign Minister to issue a correction.
In fact, the ANP’s instance for a French “disclaimer at any cost” highlights the political sensitivity and historic significance of the intimate and yet secret nature of the on-going military cooperation between the two nations. Paris is willing to play the Algerian Military’s game of denial as long as French interests are protected in North Africa.
Algeria has repeatedly denied any involvement in the on-going French military operations in the Sahel. It claims that foreign presence on its borders is a provocation. Nevertheless, the facts remain that Algeria’s ‘self-serving” foreign policy opened the doors for several countries to send armed units into Mali, Niger and Libya. The presence of these paid mercenaries and paramilitaries further jeopardizes the security and stability of the region.
Moreover, reports in French and independent Algerian media describe an understanding between the ANP and the French Ministry of defense allowing French Air Force to use Algerian airspace and operate on Algerian soil near the borders with Mali.
In fact, the Algerian Website” Algerie Part” related this month on the activities of the group “Amarante “, a French security firm headed by a former chief of France’s foreign intelligence agency (DGSE) on Algerian soil. The Algerian independent site, with sources within the NAP, reported that “the High Command of the Army and the Algerian Presidency entrusted Amarante with operating on Algerian soil, freely and under the guise of security assistance.”
Since Algeria’s independence in 1962, anti-France speeches and stories about diplomatic divergences are the items that grab headlines. However, behind these media distractions is a deeper trend of close relations between the DGSE and the ANP’s leadership. In fact, the two entities have had a French government commitment to keep the ruling junta in power regardless of the cost to the Algerian people.
The DGSE has secret dossiers with details of bank accounts, real estate holdings and secret liaisons of several key figures in Algeria. It is no wonder that ANP Generals, Algerian politicians and heads of state take refuge or seek medical attention in France when times get tough.
The secret relations between France and the ANP go back to the first coup d’état of the post-colonial era. However, the most controversial period of this marriage of convenience came during Algeria’s bloody civil war. Between 1992 and 1997, French intelligence agencies backed unconditionally the gory crackdown led by Generals Belkheir and Nezzar and devised by intelligence chief the notorious Toufik that killed more than 100000 civilians.
Furthermore, many Algerians accuse France of forcing the ANP in 1992 to declare war on the duly elected “Islamists” government of the FLN party as part of its “Françafrique” neo-colonialist doctrine. Paris’s “Françafrique” policies continue to ravage North Africa, the Sahel and other parts of the former “French Africa” region.
During the Bouteflika- Gaid Salah era, business and money became the driving force behind the Franco-Algerian alliance. Paris, and other European capitals including Madrid, have allowed the pillage and fleecing of the Algerian treasury to benefit their economies. This simple yet wicked strategy, has held high-ranking ANP officers hostage to French interests and made them open to blackmail if they refuse to submit to Paris’s wishes.
More recently once again the ANP has called on its protector “Mama Fransa” (Mother France), to the rescue. As the raging social protest movement, called Hirak in Arabic, starts to threaten the military installed government of President Tebboune, the ANP is expanding its cooperation with the French military in Africa. This strategy is a pattern to secure Paris’s support against future European pressures as the E U signals concerns over the mounting human rights abuses in Algeria.
However, if the ANP, the de-facto ruler, does not address poor management, corruption and nepotism, social discontent will grow; thus, making Algeria weaker and more vulnerable to French influence and dictum. Algeria’s domestic political instability has compromised its foreign policy responses to regional security. Algeria’s predicaments are making the North African nation a liability on the Sahel and the Maghreb countries.