While the announced visit of the French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, to Algiers was no longer effective, at the same time, the French President’s party announced the opening of an office in Western Sahara. Is this a sign of a rapprochement between the Macron government and the Moroccan authorities, under the nose of Algeria?
The tense relations between Algeria and France would be a boon for Morocco. French Prime Minister Jean Castex was due to visit Algeria as part of a high-level intergovernmental committee on 11 April, but this visit was cancelled at the last moment. This is a meeting of the dialogue body between the two governments which has not been held since 2017.
According to the French authorities, this postponement is explained by health reasons related to the Coronavirus pandemic, reports Al Ahdath Al Maghrebia. The categorical refusal of the French authorities to extradite two Algerian nationals, web influencers Hicham Abboud and Amir Boukhris, for their alleged involvement in terrorism cases would also justify the postponement of this visit.
Another reason mentioned was the coincidence of the date of the visit with several diplomatic actions, including a meeting of the Moroccan-French joint parliamentary committee, the decision of the French President’s party, La République en Marche, to open a branch in Dakhla and the meeting between the heads of diplomacy of the two countries, Nasser Bourita and Jean-Yves Le Drian.
In addition, during a videoconference meeting with Nasser Bourita, Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Living Abroad, Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, welcomed the quality of security cooperation between France and Morocco. So many points that could lead one to believe that France is turning more towards Morocco. Has the Hexagon abandoned Algeria? Nothing is less certain.
As a reminder, the Cherifian kingdom recently helped France to foil an attack in Béziers. The head of French diplomacy also reaffirmed his country’s support for the Moroccan autonomy plan for Western Sahara. And, for Jean-Yves Le Drian, bilateral relations between the two countries are « very strong ».