Monday, 19 September 2011

Algeria sets different standards for Libyan recognition

Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci has said at a Sunday 11th September press conference with his Malian counterpart that Algeria will officially recognise Libya's new rulers once the former rebels form a new government representative of all Libyans. His comments have already received considerable sarcastic comments because Algeria is the one North African country doing its best to hold out against a 'representative government'.

Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) has plentiful evidence that Algeria gave strong support to the Qadhafi regime during the six months before he was overthrown. It is also currently sheltering several members of his family, almost certainly in contravention of the UN travel ban; still providing support to Qadhafi loyalists; and doing almost everything in its power to destabilise the NTC by giving as much publicity as it can to alleged feuds between its Islamist and secularist members.

Algeria's two-faced stance is beginning to irritate the NTC's Western backers, namely the US, France and UK. France's Foreign Minister Alain JuppĂ© made a very pointed comment this week when he said that “Algeria's position is not clear”. If Algeria continues to make trouble for the NTC, it is conceivable that the US might begin seriously to reconsider its hitherto strong support of the Algerian regime.

Algeria is the only Arab state to hold out on recognition of the NTC and it has been reluctant to engage with Libya's new rulers. Medelci did say, however, that there had been direct contacts between the two countries in the last two weeks and that a dialogue was developing, even though Algiers does not recognise the NTC as the legitimate authority in Tripoli.

Algeria angered the NTC by giving refuge to members of Qadhafi's family; and the question of whether Aisha Qadhafi did actually give birth to a baby, as Algeria claimed and used as its reason for breaching the UN travel ban, is still unresolved. In fact, as we have reported over the last two weeks, the only acceptable proof that Algeria is telling the truth over Aisha's second birth in eight months would be through irrefutable DNA evidence.

There are also doubts as to whether Algeria has, in fact, closed its southern frontiers to Qadhafi loyalists fleeing Libya and possibly cutting across the south-east corner of Algeria into Niger, as it has publicly stated.

For more news and expert analysis about Algeria, please see Algeria Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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