The Non-Alignment Posture of Algeria’s Foreign Policy

NESA Center Alumni Publication
By Dr. Arslan Chikhaoui, Chairman of Nordsudventures.com
25 July 2022

The map of geopolitical alliances is being reshaped following the Russia-Ukraine Crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic. With the potential development of a multi-polar world, Algeria is reaffirming its affiliations and defining its strategic and geo-economic areas of interest yet remains committed to its positions of non-alignment. It is clear that Algeria will continue to defend and promote the resolution of crises and conflicts of varying intensities, in particular, in the Arab World, Africa, the Sahel, and the Mediterranean through political solutions rather than military ones. Inclusive dialogue and political reconciliation are the paths that Algeria will continue to advocate. Despite this new geopolitical dynamic, Algeria undoubtedly remains a key player in the processes of reconciliation and stability given its experience and its proven expertise over the past fifty years.

Since its independence in 1962, Algeria has mobilized and will certainly continue to deploy its diplomacy to promote the principles of self-determination, respect for borders inherited from colonial divisions, non-interference in the internal affairs of States, the peaceful resolution of conflicts, non-interventionism, and non-alignment posture. Its struggle for independence produced an uncompromising foreign policy against foreign interference. Faced with the new challenges of a rapidly changing region, issues of security, integration, and regional convergence, Algeria is in a phase of adapting and consolidating its foreign policy doctrine for its strategic repositioning on the international scene which is being “reshaped”.

The diplomatic dynamic initiated by Algeria since the Covid-19 health crisis with its economic diplomacy, proximity diplomacy, parliamentary diplomacy, civil society diplomacy, preventive diplomacy, and multilateral diplomacy, shows its desire to position itself on the international scene as a key partner in the region without calling into question the fundamental doctrinal principles of its foreign, defense and security policy in the face of new emerging players such as China, India, and Turkey, who are shaking up the established order.

In the absence of a systematic alignment which would be synonymous with a denial of the doctrinal principles on which Algeria has built its foreign policy since its independence, or an intransigent opposition which would isolate it, Algeria seems to be moving more and more toward a policy of non-dogmatic interests.

Breathing new life into the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and defining new paradigms for its adaptation to the new era would be the approach for which Algeria seems to be opting. As a result, it clearly displays both its posture of non-alignment, as is the case of the Russia-Ukraine Crisis, but also its belonging to areas of strategic interest such as the Mediterranean, the Sahel, Africa, and the Arab World. The visit in June 2022 of Venezuelan President Maduro to Algiers and the signing of a strategic cooperation agreement between the two countries is a clear message of the revitalization of the Non-Aligned Movement. Algeria’s membership to this movement and its commitment to its objectives are enshrined in the founding act of the Algerian State, which is the Declaration of November 1954 to recover its independence from French colonialism.

Today, and taking into account a context carrying the risk of confrontation between the actors of world powers and for many African or Asian countries which refuse to choose to belong to one camp or another, Algeria is called upon to sponsor this movement of non-aligned countries which was born with the Afro-Asian Conference of Bandung in 1955. Algeria’s commitment is part of the logic of its geostrategic repositioning as a pivotal actor thanks to its attachment to the three demands defended by this movement, namely: decolonization, multilateralism, and economic development.

During his visit to Turkey in May 2022, Algerian President Tebboune stated that: “Our policy is Non-alignment and we are not going to give it up”. Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine politico-military crisis and despite the historical relations that bind it with Russia, Algeria has remained equidistant from the belligerents. As proof, at the end of March 2022, Algeria welcomed the visit of the US Secretary of State Blinken, followed in May by that of the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov. On these occasions, Algerian President Tebboune declared that: “Russia and the United States are our friends, all the others are our friends, except the one with whom we have a problem because of Palestine. Whoever wants to judge us let him do it. We are trying as best we can to reinvigorate the Non-Aligned Movement. We see where the world is heading. Regardless of the number of poles, we are equidistant from all. Our commercial interests work with everyone, but when it comes to political interests and stability, we look first and foremost at our interests, the interests of the Algerian people.” Concomitantly, the Chief of Staff of the Algerian Army, General Chengriha, had also reaffirmed the neutrality of Algeria vis-à-vis international conflicts, when he received the Director General of the International Military Staff of NATO, General Wiermann: “On the international level, Algeria continues to adopt a policy of neutrality. Our country takes care to exclude itself from the tensions that oppose the different parties.” For his part, the President of the Senate (Upper House) Goudjil indicated to the Cuban Ambassador in Algiers, Vergara, the need to draw inspiration from the principles of the non-aligned countries and that the countries of the Third World will have to better prepare themselves for profound changes that the world is currently experiencing. The Speaker of the Upper House, during a recent telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Sentopa, also stressed: “the need to work together to develop a new concept of non-alignment which is adapted to the new international situation.” 

All these concomitant political statements show that there is a consensus among the Algerian ruling elite on the issue of the non-alignment posture of Algeria and its desire to bring the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries up to date.

In addition, by organizing the meeting in Algiers of the Arab League scheduled for 01 November 2022 aligning with the celebration of the 68th anniversary of the outbreak of the revolution against French colonization and also the 44th anniversary of the Declaration of Algiers of November 15th, 1988 by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) retained by the State of Palestine as its declaration of independence, marks the constancy of Algeria’s position for the self-determination and independence of the peoples. Moreover, by organizing the Mediterranean Games in June 2022, Algeria marks its membership of this strategic space in which it is one of the important players with regard to the issues and challenges that will be faced by the two shores bordering the Mediterranean Sea commonly referred to as “the Lake”. Conflicts and their malevolent corollaries around the Lake are becoming serious issues for the development of renewed, peaceful, and balanced cooperation between the northern and southern shores. The Mediterranean remains an issue at three levels: strategic, economic, and ecological. All this means that Algeria cannot be on the sidelines and clearly affirms it.

Algeria is gradually moving towards a new era where it is trying to adapt to the new global context. It displays it with some signals to the international community such as, for example, its adherence to NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue; its call for the resolution of low and medium intensity conflicts in Libya, Mali, and Yemen through inclusive political dialogue; and to offer its good offices as a facilitator with regard to its experience and expertise in this field (e.g. Iran-Iraq, Iran-USA, Ethiopia-Eritrea, and others); the implementation of Arab and African free trade agreements (GZALE and ZLECAf); its desire to revisit the Association Agreement with the European Union to adapt it to the new challenges; and resume dialogue with WTO for its possible accession to membership status. Algeria is already relying on privileged platforms to activate at the regional and sub-regional level (African Union, 5+5 Cooperation, CEMOC, Trans-Saharan Counter Terrorism Initiative, Afripol) and intends to re-launch with new paradigms.

In short, the global geopolitical and geo-economic context is shifting and Algeria’s positions of principle remain irrevocably constant, which explains its commitment to energizing a new concept of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries.

The views presented in this article are those of the speaker or author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.