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Algeria's new military diplomacy

The Algerian army chief of staff is currently in Russia. The Maghreb country sees Moscow as a strong ally in several hot issues.

After several years of erasure, Algeria has made its comeback on the diplomatic scene since the worsening of the Libyan crisis a year and a half ago. The delay seems difficult to bridge, as the country has, for two decades, completely put aside its continental diplomacy. But since the election of Abdelmadjid Tebboune at the head of the country, Algeria finds color on the diplomatic scene. And the health crisis has even caused a revival on that side with an offensive "vaccine diplomacy".

On the military side, Algeria is also advancing its pawns, not without a certain control. Gone are the days of Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaïd Salah, who was also Deputy Minister of National Defense and Chief of Staff of the National Army, who died in December 2019. Close to the United Arab Emirates, Salah had tried to "sell" the Algerian army to Mohammed ben Zayed Al Nahyane, alias MBZ. Without really succeeding.

What if the solution lies with Moscow? In any case, the current chief of staff of the Algerian army, went for a working stay in Russia. Saïd Chengriha arrived in Moscow on Monday, June 21, "at the invitation of General of the Army Choïgou Sergei Koujouguévitch, Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation", indicates the Algerian Ministry of Defense. According to Young Africa, the chief of staff of the army is, before that, passed to Paris. On the menu, discussions concerning the Sahel. Chengriha would have thus met his French counterpart, General Thierry Burkhard.

Western Sahara and Libya, two points of convergence

Mainly a courtesy visit. Nothing to do with the trip of Saïd Chengriha, which takes on a more strategic issue: the Algerian chief of staff has been participating, since yesterday, in the Moscow conference on international security. According to the African magazine, a delegation from the Algerian navy is also participating in the International Maritime Defense Show (IMDS), in Saint Petersburg.

Russia and Algeria have very strong trade relations in terms of armaments: Moscow is indeed the number 1 supplier of armaments to Algeria. A market that has grown strongly over the past five years.

But for the army chief of staff Saïd Chengriha, it was also a matter of diplomacy. Because Moscow is a strong ally, especially in the Sahrawi file: on June 10, the Russian Foreign Ministry indicated that it saw “the decision of the American administration (to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, editor's note) as undermining the generally recognized international legal framework for the settlement of the Western Sahara issue, which provides for the determination of the final status of this territory by means of a referendum under the auspices of the UN ”.

Another issue in which Russian support is important: Libya. While the Berlin 2 conference on the transition in Libya is currently taking place, Moscow is an important player in this dossier. Last year, the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sabri Boukadoum, affirmed that there is "a convergence of views between Algeria and Russia around the Libyan crisis". There is no doubt that Libya has been widely discussed between the Russian authorities and the Algerian army chief of staff, who can also make Algeria a major ally in world military diplomacy: since a little more than six months, the country allows itself to deploy its army abroad. A constitutional right which, under Abdelaziz Bouteflika, did not exist.

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