Deeply isolated on the international stage, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune was delighted to welcome his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who came to Algiers for a few hours on Tuesday 21 November

Erdogan's visit, a breath of fresh air for Tebboune

PHOTO/APP/NURPHOTO VÍA AFP/BILEL BENSALEM - El presidente turco Recep Tayyip Erdogan participa en el foro económico argelino-turco en Argel, Argelia, el 21 de noviembre de 2023, copresidido por el primer ministro argelino Nadir Larbaoui
photo_camera PHOTO/APP/NURPHOTO VIA AFP/BILEL BENSALEM - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan participates in the Algerian-Turkish economic forum in Algiers, Algeria, 21 November 2023, co-chaired by Algerian Prime Minister Nadir Larbaoui

After suffering a series of diplomatic setbacks, the most stinging of which was its refusal to join the BRICS group, the Algerian regime has plunged body and soul into an isolation it finds hard to accept. Since the Arab summit in Algiers on 1 and 2 November 2022, boycotted by the most illustrious Arab heads of state, particularly those of the Gulf states, and the failure of his visits to Russia and China, President Tebboune has not appeared at any major international meeting. Worse still, the Saudi Foreign Minister, sent to Algiers by Crown Prince Mohammed Benselmane, strongly urged him not to attend the Arab League summit to be held in Jeddah in May 2023, due to the Algerian regime's stubborn refusal to accept any Arab mediation in the conflict with neighbouring Morocco.  

Recently, the Saudis reiterated their refusal to invite Algeria to the Arab-Islamic summit on the Gaza war hosted by Riyadh on 11 November.

At odds with many Arab capitals, including Dubai, Cairo, Riyadh and, of course, the inevitable Rabat, the Algerian regime is, in fact, at odds with all Arab countries. No Arab League member country aligns itself with the Algerian position on the Western Sahara issue. The clear and unequivocal recognition of the Moroccan nature of the Sahara by Arab countries thwarted Algiers' attempt to conflate the Palestinian cause with the Western Sahara issue at the Algiers summit in November 2022. 

PHOTO/Agencia fotográfica anfitriona RIA Novosti vía REUTERS - El presidente de Argelia, Abdelmadjid Tebboune
PHOTO/Agencia fotográfica anfitriona RIA Novosti vía REUTERS - Abdelmadjid Tebboune

Things are no better with Europe. At odds with Spain and France, Algiers is being fleeced by the Italians, who have benefited from its generosity in gas contracts without returning the favour. 

Algiers is suffocated by an isolation it has never experienced before, not even in the midst of the civil war that ravaged the country for more than a decade. It is therefore content with a visit of just a few hours by the Turkish president, which will allow it to get back on its feet and, above all, to take advantage of the presence of a voice heard in the world to make its voice heard on the Israeli-Palestinian war. 

Obviously, the Turks do nothing for nothing. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has mentioned the figure of "10 billion dollars" in economic exchanges that he "hopes" to achieve between the two countries in "a short space of time", noting that 1,400 companies have invested in Algeria. This figure clearly benefits Turkey, as Algiers is the poor relation in terms of investment in Turkey, and has virtually nothing to sell to the Turks.

Accompanied by a delegation made up of several ministers from different sectors, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is making waves. Huge investment contracts in the fields of industry, energy and mining, transport, fisheries and fish production, agriculture, justice, education, trade, finance, public works, culture and higher education.  

Economic cooperation is beginning to extend to other sectors, such as renewable energy, mining, Saharan agriculture and the pharmaceutical industry. The Algerian president describes this cooperation as "fruitful and promising". 

PHOTO/Oficina de Prensa Presidencial via REUTERS - El presidente turco Tayyip Erdogan se dirige a sus partidarios, antes de la segunda vuelta electoral del 28 de mayo, en Kahramanmaras, Turquía, el 20 de mayo de 2023
PHOTO/Presidential Press Office via REUTERS - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses supporters ahead of the May 28 run-off election in Kahramanmaras, Turkey May 20, 2023

Historically, Algerians consider Turkey to be the biggest traitor for having 'sold out' their country to the French in 1830, after three centuries of Ottoman rule (1518-1830). Worse still, it voted against Algerian independence at the UN in 1958. But this does not seem to affect the leaders of the "new Algeria", who have made Morocco, which served as a rear base for the Algerian revolution in 1954, their number one enemy. Nor do Algeria's leaders, who use the normalisation of Morocco's relations with Israel as an additional alibi to justify their animosity towards their western neighbour, have the slightest grievance with Turkey in this regard.  

This improvement in Algerian-Turkish relations is explained by the personal relationships forged with Turkish businessmen by some senior military and civilian officials, including President Tebboune and his sons, as evidenced by two reports broadcast during the December 2019 election campaign by the An-nahar television channel. These reports showed how Abdelmadjid Tebboune, then in disgrace after being dismissed as prime minister, was taken care of by Turkish businessmen. The aim of the reports was to brand Tebboune as a corrupt candidate. They were broadcast on the instructions of Major General Wacini Bouazza, who is currently serving a 16-year sentence in Blida military prison. Bouazza was head of internal security and was determined to block Tebboune's path with the support of Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaïd Salah, then Deputy Minister of National Defence and Chief of Army Staff.  

Today, things are clear. Relations between the two countries have never reached such a high level of cooperation and exchange. Erdogan is the only president with whom Tebboune has had more exchanges. In four years, the two men have met four times. Twice in Algiers (January 2020 and November 2023) and twice in Ankara (May 2022 and July 2023). Not to mention that Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the first foreign head of state to visit Algiers after Tebboune's inauguration. This was in January 2020. From all these meetings and solid and well-supported relations, Algiers has gained one thing: the extradition of non-commissioned officer Guermit Bounouara, former private secretary to the late Gaïd Salah, who left to seek political asylum in Turkey in exchange for a voluminous dossier implicating Tebboune and certain Turkish businessmen.

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