Algeria is preparing to compete with Morocco across Africa, starting with the Western Sahara file and including the expulsion of Israel from observer status at the African Union (AU), it has been reported.
This is part of a push to restore Algerian diplomacy to the influence it enjoyed prior to the later years of the Abdelaziz Bouteflika era, when the former president's deteriorating health prevented him from making foreign visits and receiving his counterparts. The return of the veteran diplomat Ramtane Lamamra as Foreign Minister has heralded a new phase of diplomatic activity.
Within just two months, Lamamra has succeeded in reviving the spirit of Algerian diplomacy, paying numerous visits to African countries, offering to mediate between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, and organising a conference on security in the Sahel region. He has also met with the foreign ministers of countries concerned about the future of Libya, and announced a summit on Palestine.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been restructured by establishing seven new branches concerned with strategic issues, international cooperation and the Arab world. A special envoy has been appointed for the Western Sahara and Maghreb conflict; veteran politician Ammar Blani is a former spokesperson for the ministry and Algeria's ambassador to Brussels. He will tackle the Western Sahara file and keep pace with the war that has been resumed between the Polisario Front and Morocco.
According to Algerian newspapers, Blani is regarded as a nightmare appointment by Moroccan diplomats due to his extensive knowledge of the Western Sahara conflict. What's more, the Algerian authorities are willing to take advantage of the apparent weariness of Morocco's King Mohammed VI, who refrains from overseas visits and receives very few officials due to the coronavirus pandemic.