A former Russian diplomat and an Algerian security expert explain to Sky News Arabia what they expect from a difference between the two phases of the Russian and French presence in the region on the future of terrorism, and the reflection on the agreements between Algeria and Russia in this regard during the visit of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune to Moscow last week.
Statements by Tebboune and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, showed the weight of the terrorism file on the cooperation agenda, as Tebboune explicitly told Putin: “We bless the existing relations between Mali and Russia”, and the consultations between Moscow and Algeria on this file, in addition to the agreement on the Libyan file.
For his part, Putin affirmed his country’s support for Algeria against terrorism, whose attacks against it are linked to the presence of armed movements in Libya and Mali.
Former Russian diplomat and lecturer at the Moscow Higher School of Economics Sergey Porfeov is optimistic about the fruits of this cooperation based on:
Both countries have a long experience in the fight against terrorism, in reference to Moscow’s experience in Chechnya and Syria, and Algeria’s experience with armed groups during the dark decade (1991-2002) . Russia wants to help governments deal with terrorist movements.
The security and military relations between the two countries are old, and Algeria is the first importer in Africa of Russian weapons, and the armies of the two countries have carried out joint exercises in 2021 and 2022.
Algerian security affairs expert Ahmed Mizab believes Tebboune’s statements to Moscow on terrorism in the Sahel suggest a difference will emerge from what has been the case with the French intervention in the region, saying that the he angle from which Russia started in this dossier is completely different from that from which France started.
He adds, explaining:
Paris has invested in the fight against terrorism by opening military bases in the region. Moscow supports military and security institutions with state-of-the-art military equipment and logistical support, building these institutions in the face of terrorists and supporting the stability of countries. Other countries neutralized the security institutions of the countries of the Sahel region. The Russian presence is welcomed by the countries of the Sahel which earned France a red card after failing to create stability. Russia has a positive history of supporting decolonization movements on the continent. Russia relies on a “win-win” partnership, which is based on the exchange and maximization of benefits between it and the countries cooperating with it, and not on the depletion of its economic resources at the expense of development.
At the same time, the Algerian expert warns that the Russian presence will aggravate the fierce international struggle over shares of influence in the Sahel region. Which will have repercussions.
France was forced to withdraw its forces from Mali in August 2022, after a protest from financial authorities, who accused Paris of failing to fight terrorism since arriving in the country in 2013.
African countries have already accelerated their cooperation with Russia in the fight against terrorism and insurgency in their country over the past two years, bringing in fighters from the Russian private army company “Wagner” and concluding advanced arms deals, including the Central African Republic and the Malian state.
However, opposition groups in these countries do not support Russian intervention. Considering that it supports the survival of governments that seek to change them, including the armed movements in the Azawad region of northern Mali that have fought long battles with the authorities.
In this, the representative of the “National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad” in Mauritania, Mr. Ben Bella, affirms that Russia “certainly will not contribute to stability anywhere in the world”, accusing it of “supporting the dictatorships and totalitarian regimes”. ”
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