The Algerian diplomacy has witnessed a remarkable effort recently, pushing towards strengthening its presence in the Libyan file and trying to put forward a special Algerian vision for a solution that is based on regional partnership with neighboring countries, which are most affected by the deteriorating situation and the blockage of a political solution in Libya, with reference at the same time to the African crisis and granting a broader role to African efforts through the conflict-resolution mechanisms adopted by the African Union, in harmony with the international role that Algeria sees as a guarantor of any interim political agreement that leads to an end to the escalating crisis in Libya.
But why was Algeria less involved in the Libyan file, and what was the secret of the diplomatic move, which seemed more active and bold in expressing positions on the Libyan issue?
Reducing the Moroccan role
The Algerian-Moroccan relations constitute a real significance in the Maghreb region and a field of geopolitical competition. The rift between the two countries has practically disrupted the role of the Arab Maghreb Union and turned the file of the conflict between the two countries into one of the hottest and most developing issues, with Morocco’s success in achieving diplomatic breakthroughs that strengthened its sovereignty over the Moroccan Sahara and deepened its relations with other countries at the international level, led by the United States, whose relations with Morocco during the republican ad administration witnessed a historic rapprochement that gave Morocco an impetus to play roles in regional files, especially the Libyan file, by embracing the Skhirat Agreement and repeated consultations between the House of Representatives and High Council of State, a role that angers the Algerian neighbor, who sees the growing Moroccan role as a factor that weakens Algeria’s movement in its geographical neighborhood, and reduces its influence, which is what Algeria pushed to organize the Libyan Neighborhood Conference that was planned to enhance confidence in the results of the national elections that were scheduled to take place on December 24, 2021, before they ended in failure.
Despite the statement of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune that no political settlement can take place in Libya without Algeria’s participation, Morocco was closer to the Libyans who chose it to hold their meetings, which was considered a failure of Algerian diplomacy and a security failure that the authorities blamed on the Algerian director of external security, Major General Mohamed Bouzit, who was sacked for failing to manage regional files, including the file of the Libyan crisis, according to Algerian media sources.
Egyptian influence competition
Algeria has recently been more clear and firm in its support for the head of the unity government, Abdel Hamid Dabaiba, as the Algerian president considered him the legitimate representative of the Libyan government until the elections. The capital, Tripoli, is a red line, which contributed to ending the war that erupted to control the capital in 2019, stressing his country’s refusal to have Tripoli or any Arab and North African capital occupied by those described as “mercenaries,” adding that when Algeria said that “Tripoli is a red line, the message reached those who may be interested in the situation,” according to what was reported by the government website Al-Nahar at the time.
The Algerian position stands in contrast with the Egyptian position, with Algeria fearing that armed formations close to Cairo will approach its eastern borders with Libya in the context of a seemingly cautious relationship between the two parties, following what was revealed by Algerian media, of a new African alliance that includes Algeria, Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Africa, under the slogan of the Group of 4 or G4, at the initiative of the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abi Ahmed, with the aim of coordinating on the issues of the African continent in the future, an alliance that arose at the height of the Egyptian-Ethiopian conflict over the Renaissance Dam.
Oil boom enhances the Algerian role
Observers believe that the Algerian diplomatic regression in foreign files, especially the Libyan file, and the government’s preoccupation with internal files, is largely due to the economic crisis resulting from low oil revenues in a rentier economy that depends heavily on gas and crude oil sales, which led to the registration of the 2022 budget deficit reaching up to more than 30 billion dollars, before the Algerian treasury rebounded again with the rise in oil prices against the background of the war in Ukraine, and the price of a barrel of Algerian oil reaching more than a hundred dollars, a boom that the country has not witnessed since 2014 after years of austerity policies and rationalization of spending. Tthis did not fall within the rise in the accounts of the current government, which based its budget on the price of a barrel in the range of $45.
A boom that brings Algeria back to the forefront of international attention with Europe searching for alternatives to Russian gas imports that constitute Libya and Algeria as the ideal destination with the addition of factors of closeness to the European market and the cheapness of transportation and production costs in these two countries, which means a double Algerian focus on Libya, with which it shares oil and gas fields in the Ghadames sites, which the Algerian oil company Sonatrach has previously carried out exploration and discovery operations in partnership with the Libyan Oil Corporation in the adjacent border area, a partnership that is pushing Algeria strongly to enhance its presence in Libya.
Fears of expanding terrorist threat
Algeria tested the danger of the Libyan arena and its threat to the Algerian territory, after the events of the attack on the Ain Amenas field, adjacent to Libya that led to the disruption of work in the field and the threat to the Algerian energy industry.
Real security threats with the absence of a Libyan security partner with whom to engage in security control operations on the border and the escalation of threats on its southern borders with Mali, in which jihadist groups are active, in addition to the Islamist-oriented Azawad separatist movement that attacks Algerian sites from time to time, which exacerbates the security challenges for the sprawling country that is trying to re-control the paths of regional transformation in a way that serves its policies and enhances its security.