The Economist on Algeria and Libya

The Economist of 3 September has two terrific articles on Algeria and Libya and Libyan oil.

There will be consequences for Algeria’s behavior during the Libyan crisis, although there are signs Algiers is attempting to move away from its sallow neutralism (more on that later).

Algeria’s government is looking especially sheepish. Despite its own revolutionary pedigree and a history of strained relations with Colonel Qaddafi, it voted against the crucial Arab League resolution in March that endorsed NATO’s action in support of Libya’s rebels. It has yet to recognise the Transitional National Council as Libya’s government. Throughout the conflict, unsubstantiated rumours suggested that Algeria supplied the colonel with fuel, arms and transport for foreign mercenaries. When the rebels captured Tripoli, some of them ransacked the Algerian embassy. Others announced that a city square named for Algeria’s revolution would be known as Abu Dhabi Square, in gratitude for the Gulf emirate’s aid.

And:

sustaining long-term production or increasing it to 3m b/d, a target mooted by members of the national council, will need the oil majors to be involved. Several are keen. On August 29th Eni signed an agreement with the national council to supply it with fuel to be paid for in crude. A French trade mission, including Total (as well as a big arms-maker, EADS), is poised to come. British firms have been cagier. The council says it will honour pre-war contracts, but the new Libyan authorities privately admit that firms from countries that helped them in the war will have priority. By contrast, investors from countries friendly to the colonel, such as Algeria’s Sonatrach, may be less fortunate.

4 thoughts on “The Economist on Algeria and Libya

  1. and yet Algeria is invited to the friends of Libya conference in Paris does this make Algeria a king maker in the Meghrab( the United states/western powers condemnation has not led Ghaddaffi to leave
    the problem is that the NTC does not speak with one voice so different ministers/generals make their own speeches/ announcements without being debriefed by the head of NTC
    Kal do you know the origin of the name algeria square
    2 what happened in Bahrain is beyond rumors qatar and many gulf arabs went and sent troops into Bahrain
    algeria is the only country that has living former “executive role” “presidents” so it has a better democracy then most of the arab states

    Algeria has received many refugees from Libya pro and anti Gaddafi Libyans and has treated these refuges very well with the help of the red cross

    kal can you report of the document al jazeera reportedly found hidden deals between the NTC and France for oil

  2. A lot of fuss for nothing.
    The Algerian government stance on the whole situation in Libya in understandable. On one hand, if libya would still have Gaddafi as their leader, algeria would not have lost face on this manner, plus it follows nicely with their own dealings with the arab spring. If Libya is a “free” country, Algeria will be last to endorse them but will eventually be OK to do so, claiming that the libya dictator was there for too long and thus needed reforms.
    It is the perfect situation, actively being neutral, letting in the family of Gaddafi for humanitarian reasons fits well with the historical Algerian situation. Now letting the colono in would be troubles…

  3. Read for Priffe.

    This may not belong here, but is important. Some talk from Naha Mint Mouknass, the former Foreign Affairs Minister of Mauritania on AQIM and Algeria. Bizarre that US Ambassador Boulware in Nouakchott talk about conspiracy theory. This is a Foreign Minister and she is not known as a joker. Closer to Libya, but not Morocco. Shall we add her among Jeremy Keenan, Geze, Mellah, Tidinit and other crazy conspiracy theorists? Some will see this as a proof of fabrication of AQIM for the solely purpose of oil grab. Sure China is reading and Keenan happy that Mauritania understood the issue …

    Kal: sorry again for dumping the whole cable here. Just in case the whole Wikileaks site is closed as they have dumped the whole 250,000 cables this week.

    N.B: I wish to congratulate the US diplomats for their competent work and educated guess. In particular former US Ambassador Godec in Tunisia: Your Excellency, you deserve a Nobel Prize as your cables on Tunisia are making necessary changes …..

    ====

    C O N F I D E N T I A L NOUAKCHOTT 000818

    SIPDIS

    E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/28/2019
    TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER EPET MR AG
    SUBJECT: MAURITANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SEES ALGERIA AS
    HINDERING RESPONSE TO AQIM THREAT

    Classified By: Ambassador Mark Boulware for Reasons 1.4 (b and d)

    ¶1. (C) Summary: The Mauritanian Foreign Minister sees
    Algeria as hindering a regional response to the AQIM threat
    — both by seeking to exclude some regional countries
    (presumably Morocco) from the conversation and dissuading
    neighbors from cooperating with external partners like
    AFRICOM. The Mauritanians see a certain amount of Algerian
    self interest in the status quo by preventing petroleum
    resources to be developed in northern Mali which could
    provide an independent form of revenue for disaffected tribes
    in southern Algeria. The Foreign Minister believes Algeria
    has the means to eliminate the AQIM threat in northern Mali,
    but does not have the interest. End Summary

    ¶2. (C) Algeria Blocking a Regional Response: During a
    December 27 meeting with the Ambassador on a separate matter,
    Mauritanian Foreign Minister Naha Mint Mouknass emphasized
    the need for a coordinated regional response to the rising
    AQIM threat evidenced by the two recent kidnappings in
    Mauritania. She noted, “Neither we nor Mali have the
    personnel or means to take on AQIM on our own,” and
    emphasized, “this needs a regional response.” “Algeria is
    the key to the solution,” but she lamented Algiers has been
    blocking progress towards the long awaited regional security
    summit by demanding that “certain countries be excluded”
    (she did not cite which country, but we presume she was
    talking about Morocco. After seizing the policy lead in the
    earlier Tamarassett conference, Mouknass suggested Algiers
    has not done much else and, indeed, has tried to dissuade
    countries in the region from accepting U.S. support through
    AFRICOM. She added, however, that Mauritania very much wants
    to receive U.S. assistance.

    ¶3. (C) Mauritanians Love Their Conspiracies: The Minister
    went on to suggest that Algeria has an interest in seeing the
    instability posed by AQIM in northern Mali. The status quo
    prevents western companies from exercising their exploration
    rights in the region. “The western companies don’t dare go
    there, but somehow SONATRACH (the Algerian state oil company)
    seems to manage just fine.” She saw Algeria interested in
    ensuring that, if commercially viable petroleum reserves are
    found in the northern Mali/southern Algeria region, the
    pipeline will head north to be controlled by Algiers rather
    than heading west towards the more economically rational
    Mauritanian port of Nouadhibou. Aside from economic
    interests, Mouknass said Algiers has a political desire to
    control oil in that region because a routing via Mauritania
    would allow the Tuareg and other tribes of the border region
    to have the possibility of an economic base independent of
    their capitals’ largess. Mouknass decried Algiers’ treatment
    of their southern population as “second class citizens.” She
    went on to say that the Algerians have “perfect knowledge” of
    the comings and goings of AQIM and have the means to prevent
    AQIM from threatening Mali and Mauritania if they wanted to.

    ¶4. (C) Comment: The Foreign Minister’s diatribe against
    Algeria came as a bit of a surprise, although it is
    consistent with rumors that Mauritania is prepared to take a
    more overtly pro-Moroccan line in its foreign policy —
    including a less neutral stance on Western Sahara. Her
    comments were also a departure from blaming Mali for being
    too cozy with AQIM. The Minister is known for her strong
    personal ties with regional leaders, but she has not
    expressed herself strongly in the past on regional security
    dynamics. We would imagine her comments reflect discussions
    with the Moroccans and probably discussions within the
    Mauritanian security and foreign policy leadership —
    particularly ideas voiced by President Aziz. We cannot
    comment on what, if any, kernel of truth exists in the
    Minister’s conspiracy theory but raise it as a reflection of
    deteriorating Nouakchott-Algiers relations. End Comment.
    BOULWARE

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