The tension between Algeria and Morocco, far from tending towards a solution, seems closer every day to being cut with a knife. The diplomatic rupture between Rabat and Algiers more than a year and a half ago provoked a major change in North Africa that has affected France, which, in addition to its internal problems, is once again in the limelight due to the declarations of its former ambassador to Algeria, Xavier Driencourt. The diplomat made a statement to the Journal du dimanche in which he made it clear that his stay of more than three years in Algeria did not leave him with good memories.
Driencourt, who also spoke of his country's current crisis with both Algeria and Morocco, says that his vision of Algiers changed a lot during the years he spent there. In fact, he speaks of Emmanuel Macron's first visit to former Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika: "He was no longer the majestic and all-powerful Bouteflika who had all his wits about him and whom I had met on my first visit, when he received all the French politicians: those on the right, those on the left". The key, says the former ambassador, is that "he couldn't stand the fact that the French were so friendly with the King of Morocco. It drove him crazy".
But this "envy" that Xavier Driencourt speaks of directly came from before, from the time when France was led by Jacques Chirac. In an interview that the former diplomat - travelling with journalist Jean-Pierre Elkabach - had with Bouteflika, he says that the former president of Algeria "spoke to us for more than half an hour, very angry with Jacques Chirac for his frequent visits to Morocco and his close ties with the king". And he goes even further. Driencourt claims that Abdelaziz Bouteflika said he was 'terribly jealous' of the relations between the French and Moroccan administrations.
The memory of the former French ambassador to Algeria does not seem to be very benevolent towards Tebboune's government. And it is neither with the situation that existed when he represented his country in Algiers, nor now, when relations between France and Algeria are going through one of their most complex stages. Xavier Driencourt also made reference during the interview to the current context in North Africa, asserting that visas are "the only thing that interests Algeria in its relations with France".
He also revealed that it was Bouteflika himself who "blamed him" for the rapprochement between Morocco and France. They were not satisfied with the French ambassador's performance and, given the new information, neither was the diplomat satisfied with Algeria's treatment of him. The fact that the Alawi kingdom has been Paris' priority ally for all these years has generated growing discontent within the Algerian executive. Observers even suggest that this could be one of the reasons that have been pushing Algerian-Moroccan relations - in addition, of course, to the Sahara crisis, a key element in this estrangement - into the abyss.
Despite this interest, Algeria's envy of Morocco may - and probably does - outweigh its quarrels with the Elysée. Hence Abdelmajdid Tebboune has urged France and China to "protect themselves from Morocco". However, in one of Macron's specialities, the president does not want to side with either of the sides that were forced to break off diplomatic relations, according to Tebboune, because it was "the only alternative to war between the two countries". However, it does not seem difficult to see that the French priority, as has historically been the case, is Rabat.