The French-Algerian activist and journalist Amira Bouraoui is at the centre of a new diplomatic crisis between Algeria and France. Shortly after Bouraoui's arrival on French territory fleeing Algeria, Algiers withdrew its ambassador in Paris, accusing the French diplomatic authorities of participating in a "clandestine and illegal" operation.
However, it is not only France that is involved in this case, as the country from which Bouraoui took off was Tunisia. The Tunisian government of Kais Saied allowed the activist to leave the nation on a flight to Lyon after Paris intervened through its embassy in Tunis.
However, despite the controversy and Tunisia's involvement in the case, Algeria is willing to overlook this in order to avoid regional isolation. Abdelmadjid Tebboune's government has no interest in starting a new dispute in the midst of crises with Morocco, Spain, France or Egypt.
For this reason, and with the aim of putting the Bouraoui case behind him, Tebboune held a telephone conversation with his Tunisian counterpart, Saied, with whom he discussed "bilateral issues of common interest", according to a communiqué from the Algerian presidency. The official note also stresses that the two sides highlighted "the strong bilateral fraternal relations between the two brotherly countries".
For her part, Bouraoui, aware of what her flight from Tunisia could mean for relations between the two countries, has publicly apologised to the Tunisian state. The French-Algerian activist stressed that she "had no other choice". The journalist and opponent of the Tebboune regime had to leave the country because of the growing repression of Algerian activists linked to Hirak, as well as independent reporters.
After Bouraoui escaped to France, her mother and sister were arrested by the Algerian authorities following a raid on their home. As reported by the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD), her sister, Wafa, has been released, although her mother, 74-year-old Khadidja, remains in custody.
La mère de Amira Bouraoui en garde a vue est transférée à Annaba, son domicile a été perquisitionné, sa fille Wafa relâchée.https://t.co/4FmP3nMs7E— said SALHI (@saidsalhi527) February 12, 2023
Regarding the diplomatic rift between Algiers and Paris, Bouraoui recalls that the French authorities protected her "only" because she is a French citizen. "If I had known that this trip would cause a diplomatic crisis between Algeria, France and Tunisia, I would have left the country by sea on an illegal immigration boat," she told Tunisian media outlet Radio Mosaique, whose director has recently been arrested amid a wave of arrests.
Like Algeria, Tunisia has no interest in opening a diplomatic rift with its neighbour in the midst of a severe economic and political crisis. In this sense, just as Algiers overlooks Tunisia's involvement in the Bouraoui case, the Saied government is avoiding the recent border dispute with Algeria.
Shortly after Bouraoui's escape, Algerian authorities detained 200 Tunisian cars at the border between the two countries. As several witnesses reported, Algerian security agents prevented vehicles carrying goods and foodstuffs from passing, requiring some of them to completely unload their cargo.
In addition to what happened at customs, Radio Mosaique reports that a gas cylinder company in the border region of Kasserine has not been supplied by Algeria since last Thursday. According to the Tunisian company, the company that produces gas cylinders in Algeria claimed the loss of one of the materials used to manufacture them, in violation of the terms of the contract signed with the Tunisian side.
Several analysts pointed out that what happened at the border was a direct consequence of Bouraoui's flight to France via Tunisia and that it would open a diplomatic crisis between Algiers and Tunisia.
However, neither country is interested in such a situation, given their internal and external problems. In fact, during the phone call, Tebboune assured that he had ordered "not to hinder the movement at the border posts of Tunisian brothers who wish to enter or leave Algeria".
This conversation between the two presidents comes shortly after Algerian Communication Minister Mohamed Bouslimani accused the French press of "trying to destabilise" his country's ties with Tunisia, claiming that these relations are "strong and fraternal". The minister added that Tebboune "was aware of the affair" and wanted to "confirm the strength" of bilateral ties.