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Algeria loses diplomatic support for Arab League Summit

Syria has informed Algeria that it prefers that the issue of its readmission at the next summit "not be raised"
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PHOTO/FAROUK BATICHE  -   Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune speaks during his swearing-in ceremony

Algeria's ability to bring Arab countries together at the next Arab League summit - tentatively scheduled for 1-2 November - continues to be questioned by its regional neighbours. 

As the Algerian government told reporters after an ordinary session of the country's parliament, Algeria is reportedly "disappointed by the campaign of postponement" it is suffering from pressure from countries such as Egypt. After the parliamentary session, Algeria's Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamrara stressed to the media that Algeria "is prepared" to host the meeting. 

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PHOTO/AFP  -  File photo, Arab foreign ministers participate in their 153rd annual session at the Arab League headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo on 4 March 2020

In this vein, Cairo is arguing that Algeria should postpone the holding of what would be the 31st session at a time when both countries are going through a delicate diplomatic situation. One of the main reasons for this crisis is the recent visit of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abey Ahmed Ali to the North African country, which, in addition to strengthening relations between Ethiopia and Algeria, poses a threat to the current diplomatic crisis between Egypt and Ethiopia over access to the Nile River's water resources. 

As a result, Egypt has proposed postponing the summit, citing differences in the timetable, as well as political disagreements over the complicated relationship that Algeria currently has with countries such as Morocco, especially over the Western Sahara conflict. Algeria is allegedly favouring Addis Ababa in its disputes with Egypt and Sudan over the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam, a multi-billion dollar project located in the Nile River basin. 

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PHOTO/FILE  - Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali travelled to Algeria in late August to meet with Algerian President Abdelmadjib Tebboune and Prime Minister Aiman Benabderrahmane

Algeria's relations with Iran vis-à-vis the Gulf governments is another reason for the growing mistrust between the countries in the region. Algeria has also been one of the few North African countries that has maintained an openly anti-Israel stance, describing any relationship with Israel as 'irresponsible', something that clashes head-on with the recent relations built by several Arab countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain with the Israeli state, as a result of the Abraham Accords.

For its part, Israel, aware of Algeria's position and its gravitation towards Tehran, is highly critical of the country's actions. Thus, at a press conference in Casablanca last August, Tel Aviv's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told the Arab media that Algeria 'has become, since the beginning of the Arab Spring, a passageway for terrorist movements at the instigation of Iran'.

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PHOTO/REUTERS  - Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Another sensitive issue causing disagreements among the various League members is the possible return of Syria. In 2011, following the outbreak of civil war in the country, Syria was expelled from the Arab League and has remained so to this day. Unlike Egypt, which imposed multiple sanctions on the Al-Asad regime, Algeria has now shown itself willing to rejoin Damascus, creating different divisions among League members.

However, in a move that could hurt Algeria, Syria wants to stay out of the summit. Syria's Foreign Minister, Faisal Mekdad, has informed Algeria that his country will not opt out of the Arab League summit and has asked that the issue "not be raised" during the meetings.

According to the Algerian ministry in a statement, this decision was taken after a telephone conversation between Lamamra and his Syrian counterpart as part of the consultations Algeria is holding with various Arab countries "with a view to creating the conditions for the success of the summit"

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PHOTO/SANA  - Syria's President Bashar al-Assad

Añadió, además, que “ambas partes también expresaron su aspiración de ver la cumbre coronada con resultados constructivos que contribuirían a un clima más saludable político y a fortalecer las relaciones interárabes con miras a promover una acción árabe conjunta”.

According to the Algerian ministry in a statement, this decision was taken after a telephone conversation between Lamamra and his Syrian counterpart as part of the consultations Algeria is holding with various Arab countries "with a view to creating the conditions for the success of the summit". 

The same communiqué reported that 'among the issues discussed on this occasion is the relationship between the Syrian Arab Republic and the League of Arab States, on which the head of Syrian diplomacy indicated that his country prefers that the question of resuming its seat in the League at the Algiers summit should not be raised'.

He added that 'both sides also expressed their aspiration to see the summit crowned with constructive results that would contribute to a healthier political climate and strengthen inter-Arab relations with a view to promoting joint Arab action'.