The head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, ended his regional tour on Wednesday with a final stop in Algeria. The Secretary of State reminded Algerian officials of the impact of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia on the country’s economy, particularly on wheat prices. But his visit seems to hide other elements…
If Algeria does not have to worry about the impact of the conflict between kyiv and Moscow on the level of hydrocarbons given that it is a producer and exporter of crude oil and gas, the country has nevertheless enough to worry about because of his addiction to wheat. This is Antony Blinken’s main message that emerged from his press conference.
Before traveling to Algiers from Rabat, the US State Department announced the topics discussed. “Regional security and stability, trade cooperation, and the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” said Yael Lempert, a State Department official.
“Happy to be back in Algiers today with Foreign Minister Lamamra. We discussed our common interests in promoting regional stability, strengthening our trade ties and promoting human rights as well as the implications of President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” tweeted Anthony Blinken.
Enjoyed being back in Algiers today with Foreign Minister @Lamamra_dz. We discussed our shared interests in promoting regional stability, enhancing our commercial ties, and promoting human rights as well as the implications of President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/x8hfyIKJ47
—Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) March 30, 2022
Aware of Algeria’s bias towards Russia, the American diplomat (the United States supports Ukraine against Russia, editor’s note) sent messages to the country’s officials on the conflict with Ukraine.
“In the case of Ukraine, there is an obvious aggressor and an obvious victim and it is important to stand with the victim,” he said, stressing that this conflict will have economic impacts on Algeria despite the distance between the conflict zone and Algiers.
“I think the impact is felt. Even if the conflict is taking place far from the region, in Europe, it has a direct impact on the lives of the people of the region, particularly with the increase in the prices of food products, in particular wheat,” he said.
“I have understood from my discussions with many colleagues over the past few days that this pain is felt acutely in this region. Most countries import at least half of their wheat,” from Russia and Ukraine, added Antony Blinken.
On the subject of the Sahara, the American representative recalled the basic and reference position of the United States, namely that Washington continues to support the efforts of the UN and of the personal envoy of the UN Secretary General, Staffan of Mistura.
Without wishing to deviate from the subject of the meeting, Blinken breathed this simple sentence which will serve as a definitive answer for Algerian officials who hoped that the Biden administration would change its position on the Sahara after the Trump administration’s recognition of the sovereignty of the Morocco on its Sahara.
“There has been no change in our position,” he said, closing this file, while avoiding irritating Algeria. Because obviously, the American Secretary of State did not go to Algeria only to make his speech about Ukraine and Russia in this part of the world not directly concerned by the conflict.
Even if this was not expressly demonstrated during his press conference, the fact that he spoke not only with his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra but also with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune shows that this visit in person has a much more important than a simple statement on wheat prices in Algeria.
Moreover, other elements demonstrate the unexplained importance of this visit. The first is explained by the reception with great pomp granted by Algiers, and this is not in the Algerian habits. The size of the Algerian delegation around the table seeks to convey an image of grandeur, importance, and the same goes for the reception of the delegation accompanying the American official who were installed along the entire length of the room.
Moreover, the forced smile of Ramtane Lamamra on all the photos as well as his hand in his pocket during the official photo with Blinken, demonstrates a new communication effort on the Algerian side, and seeks to convey the message that the Minister is relaxed and on conquered ground, and can translate into reality, quite the opposite.
Second element, the Secretary of State made the stopover in Rabat before Algiers, while Antony Blinken had already met the Moroccan Minister for Foreign Affairs in Israel a few hours before his arrival in Morocco.
Antony Blinken’s working visit to Morocco followed by a short stopover in Algeria at a time when the two countries are in a diplomatic cold (since Algeria decided to suspend its diplomatic relations with Morocco) testifies to an issue common between the two neighboring countries, and to another extent, common also for the United States.
Third element proving the important nature of this regional tour, goes back to a few days, during the visit of the number 2 of the American diplomacy, Wendy Sherman, in these same two countries. Wendy Sherman, nicknamed “the silver fox”, is one of the most powerful diplomats in the world and her dispatch to Rabat and Algiers was a prelude to the visit of Antony Blinken.
Thus, it seems obvious that Wendy Sherman was sent to negotiate the bases of a big file before Antony Blinken came in person and met the Algerian president to put the seal of an agreement which should certainly be known in the future. close.