Algeria was ready to "intervene" in Libya

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said his country was ready to "intervene in one way or another" in Libya
El presidente argelino Abdelmadjid Tebboune AFP/ RYAD KRAMDI

AFP/ RYAD KRAMDI  -   Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune

Libya has become a war of legitimacy and a war to control the country's natural resources, in particular oil. Black gold has always been the desired wealth of both the Middle East and North Africa. The highly prized fuel has shaped the evolution of some of the bloodiest conflicts of the 21st century, such as the one in Libya. Geopolitical interests and disregard for the country's complexities have brought the North African nation to the brink. The conflict that has plagued the nation is a cause for concern for countries such as Algeria.

Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune, who has just taken office, said at the time that 'Libya's security is an extension of our own security' and that 'the best way to preserve our regional security remains cooperation and mutual assistance with our neighbours to confront terrorism and extremism'. Tebboune also pointed to the need to consolidate international efforts to reach a solution to the conflict through political and diplomatic means. The Algerian capital intended to take on the role of mediator between the warring parties in the Libyan conflict, a war that threatens regional stability.

Soldados argelinos hacen guardia, en las montañas de Ain Defla, al oeste de la capital Argel REUTERS/ABDELAZIZ BOUMZ
REUTERS/ABDELAZIZ BOUMZ-Soldados argelinos hacen guardia, en las montañas de Ain Defla, al oeste de la capital Argel

During an interview, broadcast on 9 June on Al-Jazeera, the Algerian president said he had considered intervention in Libya because he considered 'Tripoli a red line'. "We do not accept that the capital of a Maghreb country is occupied by mercenaries. We were going to intervene," Tebboune said. Asked whether it was a military intervention, the president responded by saying that Algeria would have intervened in one "way or another: we were not going to sit back and do nothing". 

President Tebboune thus confirms the change in Algeria's defence doctrine. The constitutional reform, desired by the head of state and adopted by referendum on 1 November 2020, opens the way to a possible deployment of the Algerian army abroad. Until now, Algeria had ruled out any military intervention outside its borders in the name of anti-imperialism. However, it now authorises its army to participate in peacekeeping operations while respecting the principles and objectives of the United Nations, the African Union and the Arab League. The new constitution gives the president, supreme commander of the armed forces and minister of defence, the right to mobilise troops, with the approval of two-thirds of parliament. 

El ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de Argelia, Sabri Boukadoum Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout via REUTERS
Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout via REUTERS-Algeria's Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum

The Algerian Foreign Minister, Sabri Boukadoum, during his visit to the Tunisian President, Kais Saied, on 29 September, indicated his intention to move away from the "classic scheme" of bilateral relations and defended a new vision of diplomacy. In the Libyan case, he advocated coordinating a common strategy to seek a political path, far from foreign interference and based on "constructive" inter-Libyan dialogue with the aim of preserving its national security, unity, and sovereignty.

Algeria has strengthened its bilateral relations to address the insecurity caused by the Libyan conflict and the Sahel. In addition to troops loyal to Haftar and Sarraj, a number of actors such as organised crime networks and armed militias were involved in the conflict. This situation is exacerbated by the region's porous borders and structural insecurity. All of this has favoured the emergence of a war economy from which large sectors of the population, organised crime groups and terrorist networks benefit. 

El mariscal Haftar reuniéndose con el ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de Argelia, Sabri Boukadoum, en la ciudad de Bengasi, en el este de Libia AFP/ LNA War Information Division
AFP/ LNA War Information Division-Marshal Haftar meeting with Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

Poverty and food insecurity, underdevelopment and corruption have taken root on the doorsteps of these two countries. To these developments must be added the multidimensional crises caused by terrorism and transnational organised crime. Algeria fears that this conflict will increase the fragilities and tensions present in the region and that these threats will be multiplied by the presence of foreign powers. For this reason, it had sought to reclaim its place on the Libyan chessboard by insisting that the future of the North African nation can only be decided by Libyans themselves.