Algerian-French relations are still inside a dark tunnel caused by President Emmanuel Macron with offensive statements, and with the difficulty of predicting the outcome of the crisis, analysts expect the emergence of new determinants of normalization between the two countries.
Since Algeria recalled its ambassador to Paris on October 2, there have been no indications of a possible normalization of relations.
The withdrawal of the Algerian ambassador came against the background of statements reported by Le Monde newspaper about the French president, in which he wonders, “whether there was an Algerian nation before French colonialism (1830-1962).”
Macron accused the Algerian regime of investing in “memory proceeds” and developing a rancor towards France.
As a result, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune decided to ban the flights of French military aircraft operating in the African coast within the Barkhane force, in Algerian airspace.
Until the publication of the report, Algeria had not announced the return of its ambassador, Antar Daoud, to Paris.
It is clear that the French president caused the most serious crisis between the two countries for several years, as the Algerian president confirmed that he “would not be the initiator of the truce.”
While the German magazine “Spiegel” reported in early November, in an article that included an interview with Tebboune, that the latter refused to respond to calls from his French counterpart.
In this interview, Tebboune considered Macron’s statements “very dangerous”, and said: “The history of peoples should not be harmed, and the Algerians should not be humiliated.”
He stressed that he would not take the initiative to ease the crisis, because “no Algerian would accept me to resume contacts with those who launched these insults,” adding: “The history of peoples should not be compromised, and Algerians should never be insulted.”
And according to what was revealed by the French newspaper “L’Opinion”, the Algerian president refused to respond to the call of his French counterpart, who wanted to invite him to attend the Paris conference on Libya two weeks ago.
Algeria participated in the conference, with Foreign Minister Ramadan Lamamra, who confirmed that “the attendance was to support the Libyans and not for anything else.”
Lamamra’s journey to Paris did not witness any meeting between him and his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian.
The latter, he told Le Monde newspaper last Friday, that “his country aspires to a relationship of trust with Algeria, beyond the wounds associated with memory that appear from time to time.”
This statement was preceded by a statement from the Elysee Palace, in which it stated that “President (Macron) regrets the differences and misunderstandings” that resulted from the aforementioned statements, adding “that he greatly respects the Algerian nation, its history and Algeria’s sovereignty.”
Algeria considered the content of the statement “reasonable”, as stated by Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra.
In the absence of tangible steps to overcome the crisis, with the exception of the Elysee statement and Le Drian’s statement, the immediate future of bilateral relations between the two countries remains open to all possibilities, including the intensification of the crisis.
Observers reinforce this scenario, based on Macron’s willingness to endure strained relations with Algeria until the next presidential elections, hoping for the votes of the anti-Algerian extreme right.
In this context, historian Amer Rakhila confirms to The Eastern Herald that there is a duality in the official French discourse towards Algeria “between courtship and appeasement, and the proposal of a draft law of apology and compensation for the Harkis who killed and tortured Algerians during the liberation revolution (1954-1962).”
Professor of political science, Driss Attia, shares this scenario, given the pre-campaign of the French presidency, which “witnesses unacceptable and unprecedented statements about Algeria.”
Attia told The Eastern Herald: “This unacceptable employment of Algeria in this electoral fever will not push towards the normalization of relations, which may be heading towards a greater aggravation, pending the arrival of new leaders to the Elysee who are not saturated with old colonial thought or the logic of patriarchy.”
The political science professor stressed that “the statement of regret issued by the French presidency can never be considered an apology, and it is only a maneuver to restore relations away from history and deep political dimensions.”
Attia based his reading of the reality of relations on the presence of aggravating factors on the French side, “such as the lack of seriousness in addressing memory, and the actions offensive to Algerian sovereignty, not to mention Paris harboring the leaders of the separatist Mac movement, which the Algerian judiciary classified last summer as a terrorist organization and an attempt to employ pseudo-opposites to pressure and blackmail the Algerian state.”
It will never be the same again
For his part, the international expert in crises, Hassan Qasimi, believes that the relations of Algeria and France are going through their worst periods, “and even if they resume, they will not return to the way they were.”
The speaker, as he clarified to The Eastern Herald, means that “Algeria is not a French protectorate in the political sense, which provides it with special economic privileges.”
He continued, “Today’s Algeria is not the Algeria of Val de Grass,” referring to the French hospital where former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was treated in 2013.
Qasimi said: “France blackmailed the former president (Abdelaziz Bouteflika), with his treatment and health file, in exchange for millions of euros in privileges.”
He asserts that relations will inevitably resume, but according to new determinants, especially since Algeria has made significant strides in building relations with new partners within the European Union such as Germany, Italy, and Spain, not to mention strengthening strategic relations with Russia, China, and Turkey.
He continued, “Algeria today prevents French military aviation from flying in its airspace, and makes it cut off a nine-hour flight instead of four, which is a clear indication of the adoption of new rules in establishing relations based on equality and mutual respect, and not on free privileges.”
On Thursday, the Speaker of the Algerian National Assembly (the second official in the state) Salah Goudjil called for the need to “clarify” Algerian relations, “in light of the emergence of the remnants of French colonialism, with the approach of the French presidential elections from parties and associations that were hidden.”
In a speech following the vote on the 2022 budget, Salah Goudjil said that “it is impossible for Algeria to accept the discourse that precedes the French election campaign and is based on the courtship of the centenarians (settlers) who were in Algeria during the colonial period.”