Algiers has been quick to react to the visit of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs to Morocco

France-Morocco rapprochement: Algeria's first reaction

Conversaciones políticas entre Argelia y Francia
Political talks between Algeria and France

As luck would have it, the 11th session of the Algerian-French political consultations of the General Secretariats of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the two countries, co-chaired by Mr Lounès Magramane, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Community Abroad, and Mrs Anne-Marie Descotes, Secretary General of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of the French Republic, took place on Tuesday 27 February. 

  1. Conflict over Western Sahara

This was the day after the visit of the head of French diplomacy, Stéphane Séjourné, to Morocco, where his statements resonated loudly in Algerian ears. It was the ideal opportunity to see how the Algerian side reacted to the Franco-Moroccan rapprochement. A rapprochement that is not to the Algerian regime's liking. 

Conflict over Western Sahara

Beyond the support for the autonomy plan for the Sahara, expressed since 2007 and reiterated "clearly and constantly", there is something new that would certainly make Algiers sit up and take note. It is "France's readiness to support Morocco in the development of the Sahara", announced by the French minister, who "will personally supervise" this new commitment.

As a first reaction, albeit rather timid, Algiers proposed to include "the question of Western Sahara" on the agenda of the 11th session of Algerian-French political consultations, in addition to "the situation in the Sahel, Mali and the Middle East, notably the situation in Palestine and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza", according to a statement from the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

What is the point of debating an issue on which the positions of both sides have been definitively decided? On the Algerian side, the sacrosanct and outdated principle of self-determination and the organisation of a referendum is stubbornly maintained, despite the fact that almost all of the 74,000 people affected by this referendum are no longer with us or have become Moroccan and Spanish citizens. Algeria is therefore called upon to come up with more realistic proposals if it wants to challenge Moroccan sovereignty over this territory. Even if Algiers says it has no interest in the territory and is not part of the conflict between the Cherifian kingdom and the moribund Polisario, which is losing more and more ground.

As mentioned above, France has gone a step further in its support for the Moroccan position by pledging to "accompany Morocco in its efforts to develop the Sahara". And it is not during a political consultation meeting that they hope to change the mind of a state whose positions are not new.

All that can be said about this discussion on "Western Sahara" is that it is simply an Algerian reaction to the new French investment in relations with Morocco. Algiers has clearly perceived that Paris has turned its back on it and that it will find it difficult to regain the French indulgence shown by Emmanuel Macron during the first three years of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune's term in office. Tebboune, who had hoped to turn things around with a state visit to Paris, has realised that there is no longer any chance of him making this visit, originally scheduled for 2 May last year and cancelled at the last minute.

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