Home World The diplomatic escalation between France and Algeria in five acts

The diplomatic escalation between France and Algeria in five acts

The diplomatic escalation between France and Algeria in five acts

For two weeks, France and Algeria have entered a new era of diplomatic crisis. The tone has gradually risen on the Algerian side in the face of new French measures concerning visas, but also to the words of Emmanuel Macron, relayed by The world, which resulted in diplomatic sanctions. Latest episode of the escalation on Tuesday: a French minister accused of “big lies” and a still effective blocking of Algerian airspace to French military planes. Nothing suggests today that the tension could drop again anytime soon. How did we get here ? 20 minutes looks back at a deterioration in five acts of Franco-Algerian relations.

Initially, a visa affair

On Tuesday, September 28, Gabriel Attal announces on the antenna of Europe 1 that the French government has decided to tighten the conditions for obtaining visas with regard to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. France accuses these three Maghreb countries of slowing down the effectiveness of escapes to the border once the obligations to leave French territory (OQTF) have been issued.

“It is a drastic decision, it is an unprecedented decision, but it is a decision made necessary by the fact that these countries do not accept to take back nationals that we do not want and cannot keep in France” , justified the spokesperson of the government. The acts were quick to follow. Since this announcement, visa issuances for Algerian nationals have fallen by 50%.

Algiers summons the French ambassador

Just after Gabriel Attal’s announcement, the French ambassador in Algiers was simply summoned. The Algerian government notifies him of “a formal protest” following the Paris decision “affecting the quality and fluidity of the movement of Algerian nationals to France”.

So far, nothing serious. It is even still possible that this interview will make it possible to advance French and Algerian cooperation on common migration rules. “This means that things are moving, that the dialogue opens and that we will finally be able to open this issue of consular passes,” reacted at the time Marlène Schiappa on BFMTV.

Emmanuel Macron and the “memorial rent”

Saturday October 2, The world publishes an article in which he reports the “unprecedented dialogue” between Emmanuel Macron and the grandchildren of Harkis. The daily explains that during this meeting, the President of the Republic affirmed that Algeria, after its independence in 1962, had been built on “a memorial rent”, maintained by “the politico-military system”.

The Head of State evoked “an official history”, according to him, “completely rewritten”, which “is not based on truths” but on “a speech which is based on a hatred of France”. Finally, he would have questioned the existence of an Algerian nation before French colonization.

Algeria raises the tone

This time, it is too much for the Algerian government. Emmanuel Macron’s speech is a bit of a spark that sets fire to an already substantial pile of powder. The very day of the revelations of the World, Algiers decides “the immediate recall for consultation” of its ambassador in Paris, Mohamed Antar-Daoud. In a press release, the government expresses its “rejection of any interference in its internal affairs” and qualifies the situation as “particularly inadmissible generated by these irresponsible remarks”.

“A reminder of an ambassador, it is not a rupture of diplomatic ties, but a way of signifying a disagreement”, reacted for 20 minutes Hasni Abidi, director of the Center for the Study of Research on the Arab and Mediterranean World (CERMAM) in Switzerland.

But the Algerian government does not stop there. The next day, a spokesperson for the French general staff affirms that Algeria has banned the overflight of its territory to French military planes, which usually use its airspace to join or leave the Sahelo-Saharan strip where are deployed the troops of the anti-jihadist operation Barkhane. A sanction already heavier with consequences according to the political scientist Hasni Abidi, because it “hinders the French strategy in the Sahel and constitutes a handicap for the foreign policy of France”.

Emmanuel Macron tries to catch up without succeeding

Emmanuel Macron will have tried to defuse the bomb by evoking a few days later the “really cordial” relations with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune. “My wish is for there to be appeasement because I think it’s better to talk to each other, to move forward,” he says in an interview on France Inter.

Words that seem to have little impact, since on Sunday, President Tebboune demands from Emmanuel Macron “total respect for the Algerian state”. “We are attacked in our flesh, our history, in our martyrs, we defend ourselves as best we can”, he declared, adding that “relations with France are the responsibility of the people and of history. History cannot be falsified ”. “There is a disappointment on the side of the presidency”, explained in our pages Hasni Abidi, who assures us that the Algerian government, “very sensitive to its image” had to react harshly to the president’s remarks.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune did not stop there. He also returned to the trigger in this new episode of tension between France and Algeria: the visa affair. This time he attacked the Minister of the Interior. “Moussa Darmanin has built a big lie” about the number of Algerian illegal immigrants that France has turned away, he said using the minister’s middle name. “There have never been 7,000 (Algerians to be expelled). France spoke with us of more than 94 (Algerians) among whom 21 were accepted and 16 others rejected, ”he said. “I am not going to speak in a newspaper for populism and the electoral campaign. There have never been 7,000 (Algerian illegal immigrants, editor’s note), this is completely false, ”he added when Algeria suspects the French government of acting in recent weeks in an electoral logic with a view to the 2022 presidential election.

On the French side, Darmanin’s entourage maintained Monday this figure of 7,730 obligations to leave French territory (OQTF) pronounced since January against Algerian nationals. He specifies that the list of 94 Algerians only concerns “those on file for radicalization and whom we consider to be the most dangerous, whom we want to send back as soon as possible”.

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