The meeting between Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi was intended to prop-up rebel Libyan General Khalifa Haftar, it has been claimed by commentators. Al-Sisi’s “sudden” decision to fly to Algiers before taking in an African Summit came after his brief but controversial meeting with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah.
Haftar expelled Turks and Qataris from Benghazi last week and started a campaign to restore and purge the eastern region along the Saloum borders, with direct intelligence and logistical support from Egypt, upon direct orders from Al-Sisi. There is a growing understanding between Haftar and the new Egyptian president that turbulence on Libya’s eastern borders will have an impact on Egypt’s security. Indeed, even Algeria has been affected by the unrest in Libya, with its Tripoli embassy being stormed and torched.
According to the state-owned MENA media outlets, Al-Sisi’s visit to Algeria was intended to “activate joint defence agreements, developing Arab armies and exchanging expertise to build defensive capabilities for the Middle East in the coming phase.”
Along with the developments in Iraq, Syria and Libya, the major topic on the agenda of the presidential meeting with Bouteflika was the “counter-terrorism dossier” and an exchange of expertise in combating terrorism. It was agreed to draft a plan to confront “extremist groups”.
It also appears that joint drills are underway between the Egyptian and Algerian armies, to besiege Libyan extremist groups from both sides. Al-Sisi’s impromptu visit suggests that unforeseen security developments have arisen and imposed themselves on the agenda; the Egyptian president had vowed that his first overseas trip would be to Saudi Arabia.