Algeria intensifies efforts to resume role in Libya

Sabri Boukadoum met in Tripoli with GNA President Fayez al-Sarraj and other Libyan officials.

Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum ended a visit to Libya during which he met with officials of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).

According to observers, the visit aimed to boost Algeria’s diplomatic role, which has receded in recent months.

Boukadoum’s visit to Libya was viewed as a sign that Algeria intends to return to the Libyan scene and back the political settlement process. However, Algeria is struggling to sell itself as a neutral mediator to some parties due to its clear rapprochement with Turkey in recent years.

Algeria’s role has diminished since the illness of President Abdelmajid Tebboune, who is still in Germany for medical treatment, the unsettling moves in the country’s internal scene and the designation of a new external security chief, in a step that seeks to establish tighter coordination between the security apparatus and diplomatic establishment.

Boukadoum was received in Tripoli by GNA President Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the High Council of State Khaled al-Mishri and Tripoli Parliament Speaker Hammouda Siyala. Boukadoum also met with a group of MPs who are members of the council.

The Algerian foreign ministry issued a statement saying: “Boukadoum had a lengthy meeting with his Libyan counterpart, in which the two sides discussed the latest developments in the situation in Libya and the prospects for political settlement processes led by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya.”

The statement added, “Boukadoum reiterated Algeria’s unwavering stance of solidarity with the Libyan people since the beginning of the crisis.” It said Algeria “called for a political settlement through a Libyan-Libyan dialogue leading to the establishment of legitimate and unified institutions after fair and transparent elections, in a manner that guarantees the unity of the Libyan people and its sovereignty over all its soil.”

Libyan officials expressed their “deep gratitude for Algeria’s solidarity and rejection of all forms of external interference in the internal affairs of Libya, as well as its continuous support for the peaceful efforts aimed at bringing peace and stability to Libya.”

Siyala pointed out that “ending the transitional stages that caused the concentration of powers and the exclusion of the people’s will in the search for a solution, towards ending the conflict, conducting the elections and achieving consensus, has become more than a necessity in order to bridge the gap between all parties.”

No details were made public about the content of the talks Boukadoum held with some MPs who harbour reservations about certain aspects of the political process, nor about Algeria’s position on the issue and its efforts to bridge the different points of views.

Boukadoum’s visit to Libya coincided with Algiers’ decision to reopen the Algerian embassy in Tripoli, which has been closed for nearly seven years for security reasons. The diplomatic staff is expected to imminently resume work in Tripoli.

The Algerian foreign ministry’s statement said that “the minister inspected the offices of his country’s embassy in Tripoli in anticipation of resuming diplomatic activity there in the coming days.”

The move, analysts say, translates Algeria’s desire to expedite its diplomatic comeback in a country with which it shares about 1,000 kilometres of border area. It also paves the way for Algeria to play a more active diplomatic role beyond Libya.

Algeria closed its embassy in Tripoli and evacuated its diplomatic staff in May 2014 after receiving information about “terrorist groups” planning to storm the building hosting the mission.