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Libya: is Algeria leaning towards the French position on the conflict?

Reading the interview given by the Algerian president Abdelmadjid Tebboune to the French newspaper l’Opinion, everything appears to suggest that the position of Algiers on the Libyan conflict is converging towards that of Paris and, in doing so, departs from that of Ankara.

To the question “How do you think Turkey behaves in Libya […]?”, Abdelmadjid Tebboune answers “Libya helped us during the liberation war by welcoming mujahideen [revolutionary fighters] on its soil. It is our duty to help it. This may displease countries that act in the name of their economic interests. Gaining ground militarily is not the solution“.

Without being explicitly named, the answer alludes to Turkey as a country that acts in the name of its economic interests and that engages in the “game” of “gaining ground militarily“. In responding in this way, the Algerian president shows his hand and clearly assumes the fact that the position of Algiers on the Libyan issue could displease some protagonists of the conflict, including Ankara.

The French journalist, while framing the interview with questions on Algerian-French relations, does not hesitate to ask several questions on the Libyan conflict, thus putting it at the heart of current discussions between Algiers and Paris. This is how he continues with another question: “Aren’t you afraid that the future of Libya, like that of Syria, will be negotiated between Ankara and Moscow?“.

To this question, Abdelmadjid Tebboune responds by asserting that the restoration of stability in Libya is “an issue of national security”. He added that Libya’s neighbors – Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt – “are best able to help the country get back on the road to peace“. Tebboune thus gives priority to the neighboring countries in the search for a solution to the Libyan conflict and dismisses the advisability of a military solution; a solution sought in particular by Turkey.

So, what emerges from this interview is:

  • the refusal of a done deal which would be imposed by a military approach on the ground;
  • priority is given to solutions provided by the countries in the immediate vicinity of Libya: Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt.
  • the desire to go beyond the current legitimacy, represented by the Government of National Accord (GNA), which Turkey prides itself on and the suggestion to “work on a new roadmap leading to peaceful elections in two to three years, under the supervision of the UN and a transitional government based on a national consensus“.

When we know the position of Paris on Libya and the many phone communications that have brought together the Algerian and French presidents over the past few weeks, everything appears to suggest that we are heading towards a convergence of the positions of the two countries on this regional threat.

In addition, a fact rare enough to be emphasized, contrary to a national narrative which has long spoken of “Ottoman presence in Algeria“, Abdelmadjid Tebboune explicitly speaks of the Turkish period as an era of colonization: “I reason more like an ordinary Algerian who lived, in his youth, the pangs of colonialism and deprivation, who loves and worships his country. Our country has suffered. The Romans stayed there for centuries. The Spanish then came, then the Turks on behalf of the caliphate, and finally the French“.

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