Geopolitics of Algeria: from colony to independence


Djella Smaine. professor, permanent researcher in CRASC, Algeria

First of all, I would like to speak to the importance of the science of geopolitics. Many scholars are now saying that it is an open system. If I talk about geopolitics in Algeria, I need to put it in the right context. Algeria is bordered by the so-called “grey” zone. We have troubles near us in Libya, Tunisia, and Mali. Algerian geopolitics could be described on many levels of analysis. We can describe the context as the Maghrebian region, as part of the Mediterranean region, or as the Arabic region. Algeria has enormous experience in managing international affairs and we have top experts in our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for example Mr. Ramtane Lamamra.

Our foreign decisions are dynamic. Also, there is extensive interaction between us and other countries. We have a lot of ties even with occidental powers. There is a balance and interaction between all powers. Speaking about occidental powers, we in Algeria have a special relationship with France because we are a former French colony.  This has provided for our economic links with Europe. There is also the economic presence of United States. But in the foreign direction, we are seeking cooperation with forces like Russia, China and Iran. We fight for many geopolitical issues which we think are right and just.

If we talk about the presence of France, the subject of historical French heritage must also be mentioned. The experience of our colonial past has had a great influence on the system of administration. French is the second language in Algeria. Of course there is a French presence in economics and politics, but our sovereignty is fervently maintained. There is cooperation, but since 1962 we have had our independence and we work for its preservation. There are some difficulties in our relations, like immigration problems, and some political pressure. France needs to find a new way of interacting with us which better respects our own foreign policy. Presently we are struggling for more economic access to the world at large.
I can’t say that there is real French presence in Algeria. There is mutual cooperation, but we are strictly against any intervention.
This is a time of terrorism all over the world, which is mostly related to radical Islamic groups. Algeria passed through the era of political Islam in the 80's and 90's. It was bloody time, but we gained experience in combating terrorism. The spirit of terrorism does not work only along ideological, but also by material things and finances. Our national army has much experience in fighting against these sorts of groups. All countries must network and cooperate to solve this problem. Radical Islam is a creation; it does not connect with Islamic history and culture. We can find many versions of these radical groups. ISIS is a false Islam, it is artificial. Many ISIS fighters don’t know Islam, and they have many foreigners. First of all, the financing of these groups must be stopped.