Russia Algeria. A Trillion Dollars Waste. Part 1

The first part of a serie dedicated to the Russo-Algerian couple. An ever enduring relation that goes beyond political systems and men of power.
S. Lavrov said : »I don’t believe in Ideology in International relations ». Agreeing, I will add that , in a game of Chess it isn’t indeed about Convictions or Beliefs but as quoted by Hans J. Morgenthau: « International Politics, like all politics, is a Struggle for Power ».

by Scander Safsaf. 01/03/2018. Algerian Freedom Alliance.

          Ever since the almost downing of Brejnev’s plane along the Algerian coast in 1961, Russian involvement in this north African country proved to be chaotic, at most, counter productive at least. In contrast with the ideological and doctrinal Chinese involvement in the struggle for independence of this north African nation, the strategic Soviet and now Russian implication allowed the build up of a tantalizing influence network that materialized in massive arm inventories and the complete alignment of Algerian foreign policy toward Russian interests.


With the guarantee of a nuclear umbrella, the Algerian regime not only ensured its survival but enforced two strategic goals. First, like many dictatorial regime, the annihilation of any viable opposition. Second the prolongation of the Western Sahara conflict, for geopolitical gains. Mere gains in fact, that are rather a way to keep in check for their sponsor.
In a meandering international scene, the Russo-Algerian relation has proven to be enduring, flourishing despite the immense harm and loss to the Algerian people, despite the tremendous infringement to the future generations. This alliance has shown ups and downs but remained in the long run constant with filled reciprocal objectives, the survival of the regime for one and another card in this grand geopolitical chessboard for the other.

Russia, Algeria a strategic relation…. for what?

When a camel meets a bear, they generally don’t fraternize. As pictural as this statement is, it certainly depicts well the paradoxical nature of a counter intuitive, counter natural alliance. Despite a strategic location, its sheer size, very important human and natural resources, despite a certain amount of fama when came its independence, despite all that, Algeria blatantly, miserably failed in every aspect of what is the normal development of a sovereign state. Or to be honest the success it had were in all case not tangible and with no short or longer term beneficial results.
It mass educated millions with no return whatsoever for its civil society. The brightest left or were forced to leave to make the fortune of international corporations and foreign states.
It succeeded in building a massive army, with no enemies apart its own paranoid view of the world and a black hole of security expenditures making the rich of its allies. A massive security system only destined to population control and the hampering of any will for emancipation.
It built for tens of billions of industrial capacities, importing whole plants and epitomised the concept of turnkey plants, only to end up with absolutely no export capacities, no competitiveness and still needing to import everything and nothing.

It attributed hundreds of billions worth of contract to international corporations with no returns in terms of education, technology transfer, local benefits. Any country would have taken advantage of such a wealth of knowledge, procedures, managerial experiences to build its own industry, to develop an export capacity or at least a way less reliant national sector. Most of the countries did, Algeria couldn’t as it wasn’t probably its objective.
Its main sector, its crown jewel, the oil sector, is in a dire state. 50 years after its nationalisation, it is still not able to produce any champion capable of competing, not even internationally, but regionally or at least locally. The sector is under technical perfusion, relying for everything on external consultancy, foreign expertise. The national oil company has seen a wealth of executives depending on the clan “du jour”, it has formed countless number of engineers, the “crème” of which left for better skies. Without foreign partners its production will be dwindling and limited. All the more a strong local industry would have helped to buffer the recent collapse in oil prices but the lack of political will and above all the fear to allow some kind of transparency prevented the emergence of local champions.
Who to blame? The system as spontaneously and popularly answered by a fearing majority. A well known system, that seems to survive by itself, for itself, but that couldn’t do so without the international status quo, imposed, organised, and well foreseen “chape de plomb”, of its well known long term ally. And hell the prize is worth the dig! A direct African access and its resources, a control of western Mediterranean traffic and a superb view of the Gibraltar strait. A refilling, refuelling, protective base for its ships en route to the Black sea or the Atlantic. A life line along southern Nato flank which largely compensates any potential loss in the eastern Mediterranean.

With such a strategic alliance Algeria became a major liability, preventing any sort of regional integration but also becoming a permanent threat to the whole region. Its under development, lack of vision and autocratic views became a linchpin for terrorism, that she is heavily instrumentalizing, manipulating to finally wear the dress of a must have partner when comes the fight against terror.
After copying for decades communism and its ideology, after failing to live to the hopes and rights of the Algerian people, resulting in the massive unrest of the eighties and nineties, she is now, still from the same source, copying oligarchism and its massively, pervasive, corrupt practices.


Nepotism, destruction of human rights, militarism, “faux semblants” and a so called fight against terror, became the norm. The country is ultimately reproducing a governance inherited from a collapsed ideology and that behind national pride and false nationalism is jeopardizing the future of millions of men and women.
It is on top of that blackmailing the whole international community as it often proclaims, it’s either us or hell. Either us, or opening the Pandora box. A box of unleashed terrorism like in the 90’s, a box of unlimited migration waves to Europe in case the power crumbles, a box of potential destabilization for its neighbour.
Unfortunately with a box already full, of deceived hopes, frustrations and failures, it is only a matter of time before this starts heavily spilling. The local security complex might have become through the years skilled in relieving the ever increasing pressure by triggering controllable riots, playing people against each other, threatening and menacing, but the dire prospect for the country for both its economy and human development leaves no doubt of how explosive this will be. The ship is ultimately, slowly but surely sinking. But not to worry, as long as the flag raises above the water, everything is fine.

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