The Algerian president confirmed at the "Fajr 2023" manoeuvres that "acquiring military force is a priority" to protect against destabilising attempts in the region

Tebboune oversees live-fire military manoeuvres for the first time

PHOTO/TWITTER/HALIM -  El presidente de la República de Argelia Abdelmadjid Tebboune supervisa las maniobras militares “Fajr 2023”
PHOTO/TWITTER/HALIM - The President of the Republic of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune supervises the military manoeuvres "Fajr 2023"

Abdelmadjid Tebboune is flexing his military muscle amid growing regional tensions. For the first time, the Algerian president supervised a tactical exercise with live ammunition in the "Fajr (Dawn) 2023" manoeuvres, which took place in Djelfa, south of the capital, as part of the armed forces' preparedness programme.  

Tebboune was received at the firing range by Chief of Staff Said Chengriha, almost a month after they both headed the restricted High Security Council which foresaw a high risk of military escalation with Morocco.

Warmongering rhetoric was the order of the day. For Tebboune, Algeria "is not a source of threat to anyone", but that "it is no secret that acquiring force is one of our priorities to protect our sovereignty against attempts to threaten stability in our region". He did not refer to any specific threat, but this is not the first time the Algerian regime has avoided mentioning Morocco in its speech in a message directly addressed to its neighbour and main rival in the region. 

"Regional contexts increase our determination to modernise and control our defence system and equipment to keep pace with advanced technologies and control their techniques, with the aim of protecting our security and vital national interests," Tebboune said at the end of the manoeuvres.  

The same security risks with which he justified the largest defence budget allocation since the country's independence: more than 23 billion dollars in an inexhaustible arms race.

SPUTNIK/MIKHAIL METZEL - El presidente ruso, Vladimir Putin, y el presidente de Argelia, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, asisten a una ceremonia de firma luego de sus conversaciones en el Kremlin en Moscú el 15 de junio de 2023
SPUTNIK/MIKHAIL METZEL - Russian President Vladimir Putin and Algeria's President Abdelmadjid Tebboune attend a signing ceremony following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on 15 June 2023

Supply problems 

Russia is Algeria's main arms supplier, but this is not the best time for Russia's military arsenal. Tebboune's rush to build up the bulk of his army coincides with Moscow's biggest military adventure in decades: its illegal invasion of Ukraine. During the more than sixteen months of Russia's occupation, the Kremlin's top priority has been to secure its military readiness with state-of-the-art technology. An obligation that has earned it large Western arms supplies to Ukraine, but all to the detriment of the quality of the Algeria-bound shipment. 

At Abdelmadjid Tebboune's recent meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow, the two leaders signed a contract under which Russia will supply Algeria with $12-17 billion worth of military equipment. Quality, in any case, is in question.

However, this condition is part of Tebboune's plans. In his speech at the "Dawn 2023" manoeuvres, he reiterated the need to modernise the entire army in order to provide an adequate response to any "threat". And in this endeavour he is investing the stratospheric 15 per cent of GDP that, since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, comes from the profits generated by the purchase of gas from Europe. 

The arms race between Morocco and Algeria is straining relations in the Maghreb, after Tebboune broke off relations with Rabat in August 2021 over 'repeated hostile acts' in the Western Sahara crisis.