BY HAMZAH DERBAZI
This is how the Algerian newspaper “Liberté” described Saudi Defence Minister Mohammed Bin Salman’s announcement of the newly founded “Islamic Military Alliance” that aims to combat terrorism.
Salman’s stated that the coalition’s joint operation center would be established in the Saudi capital, Ryadh, and carried on saying that they would aim to coordinate efforts against extremists in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.
The alliance consist of 34 countries, excluding Iraq, Syria, Iran and Algeria.
Algeria has already refused to participate in the “Decisive Storm Operation”, led by Saudi Arabia to fight the Houthis in Yemen in March 2015. It has always beenthe case for Algeria to refuse participation of its army in other alliances, be they Arabic, regional or international, as the constitution forbids the army in carrying fights outside Algerian territory. This law was bypassed only in two occasions – the Arab-Israeli wars in 67′ and 73′.
Historically speaking, the Algerian foreign policy has never been a subject of religion basics and that can be seen in several cases, like its support for East Timor after it got invaded by Indonesia (which is an Islamic country).
As for reasons to why Algeria isn’t participating in this alliance, Algerian army ex-Colonel Khalfawi explained to CNN Arabia that “Algerian constitution doesn’t allow its army to fight abroad”, and that “Algeria doesn’t help any country to invade another country”. He added; “This alliance is trying to assemble Sunni states against the Shiites. The risk of an alliance based on sectarian agenda will definitely deepens the issues in the area”.
The former head of government, Dr. Mansour Kadider, explained to CNN Arabia that the coalition is as a part of the geopolitical fight between the Saudi Kingdom and Iran, and that Algeria would definitely rather stay away from it because it doesn’t want to be a part of a ‘sectarian war’.
On the other hand, the Iranian-Algerian relations are getting closer after Thursday’s two-days visit of the Iranian first Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, and the signing of five executive cooperation programs and three memorandums of understanding, in Algiers.
This visit was seen as a ‘comeback’ to the Saudi Arabian alliance and as a necessity from the Algerian government that tries to work with other major oil country exporters, in order to escape the upcoming economical and social challenges after the high drop of the oil prices on December 2014, and the suspicious role of Saudi Arabia in maintaining the low oil price.
Is it noteworthy that recently, the trendy word in Algeria has been “austerity”, since the two parliament chambers approved the new financial law for the year 2016 – which most of the newspapers and politicians in Algeria sees as a “a threat to social peace”.