Algeria: punishing Spain and rewarding Italy


Published on Tuesday, 12 April 2022 Back to articles

Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Algeria’s President Abdelmajid Tebboune – 11 April 2022

Algeria is in the midst of complex and potentially risky negotiations and deals over its sale of gas to European countries. 

Algeria — angered by Spain’s support for Morocco over the disputed Western Sahara (Morocco Focus, March 2022) — is therefore trying to switch its gas exports from Spain to Italy. Terminating, or even trying to renegotiate, its gas supply contract with Spain could, however, be dangerous and difficult, and there is the likelihood that any such attempt could result in another international arbitration case.

On the other hand, the 11 April agreement to supply Italy with an additional 9-10 billion cubic metres (BCM) of gas a year could prove impossible to deliver. Sonatrach’s plan to reduce domestic consumption during the summer months, in order to expand exports to Italy in time for winter, could prove overly ambitious and socially very risky. Even if this were possible, there are severe doubts as to whether the 40-year-old Trans-Mediterranean (a.k.a. TransMed or Enrico Mattei) gas pipeline could deliver such additional amounts.

Meanwhile, the regime has stage-managed a fabricated and very naïve terrorist narrative in an attempt to convince the British authorities that they are harbouring a terrorist: namely Rachad’s Mohamed Larbi Zitout. Algeria wants him extradited back to Algeria but that will not happen: Zitout is not a terrorist and the UK authorities are not that gullible.

In a state of paranoic vindictiveness, the regime has also turned its anger on the 67,000 strong Algerian community in Canada on the grounds that it is supportive — as are most Algerians everywhere — of the Hirak. Algerian-Canadian dual nationals visiting the country, whether on holiday or for family business, are currently being subjected to serious repression and harassment. 

Another of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s ministers, Khalida Toumi, has been sentenced to prison. She was charged with for ‘abuse of office, squandering of public funds and granting undue advantages to third parties.’

Algeria not only supported Moscow in the UN vote to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), but it has also agreed to conduct joint military manoeuvres in Algeria with the Russian army in November 2022.

The Mediterranean Games, to be held in Oran this summer, have fallen so far behind schedule that President Abdelmajid Tebboune has authorised the use of ‘mutual agreement’ deals to complete the outstanding work. This is an open invitation to official corruption on a massive scale.

This excerpt is taken from Algeria Politics & Security, our weekly intelligence report on Algeria. Click here to receive a free sample copy.

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