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Algeria

A league of quarrelling neighbours

Algerian officials have headed off Egypt's attempts to postpone the Arab League summit planned for November but ructions continue

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry walked out of an Arab League ministerial meeting earlier this month upon learning that it would be chaired by Libyan foreign minister Najla Mohammed el Mangoush, a member of the government headed by Abdel Hamid Dubaiba.

Statements calling for the postponement of the summit were then issued by the Egyptian government and echoed by diplomats requesting anonymity. Algeria, unlike Egypt, wants Syria's rapid reinstatement in the League.

Arab League Assistant Secretary General Hossam Zaki has stated that no specific time can be set regarding Syria's return to the organisation. Morocco's King Mohammed VI has also confirmed that he will attend the summit despite the growing regional tensions.

The summit slated for 1-2 November in Algiers, would be the first since 2019 due to the pandemic. It was supposed to be in March, before a surge of Covid-19 cases caused its postponement.

Yet the November gathering is likely to disappoint host President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. He promised that it would be a success 'because it seeks Arab reconciliation after years of division and fragmentation' but the opposite looks more likely to happen.

Egypt's attempts to undermine Algeria can be added to a long-running disagreement among Arab states over the status of Syria, which has been suspended from the group since 2011 following the brutal crackdown against protests by Bashar al Assad's regime. But Algeria wants Syria's immediate reinstatement.

Egypt also chafes at Algeria's warming diplomatic ties with Ethiopia and its support for Addis Ababa over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Relations between Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria are already ice-cold, primarily because of the continuing fight over the diplomatic status of Western Sahara (AC Vol 63 No 17, Rabat and Algiers cross swords over UN role).

Last month, Morocco recalled its ambassador from Tunisia after President Kaïs Saïed invited Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic president Brahim Ghali to an Africa-Japan summit (Dispatches 30/8/22, Tokyo promises $30bn to Africa a week after Beijing's debt relief offer).



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