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PM Djerad: Western Sahara Developments Are ‘Destabilizing’ Algeria

Source : | 12 December 2020 |  World | 440 views

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Rabat – Algeria’s Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad on Friday stated that the evolving situation in Western Sahara is “destabilizing†Algeria. Djerad made the comments during a press conference to mark the 60th anniversary of the demonstrations that led to the country’s independence.Djerad presented the quid-pro-quo agreement between Morocco, the US and Israel as a move that directly “targets†Algeria. “The Zionist enity has arrived,†the Algerian PM said of the agreement. Claiming that Morocco’s expanding diplomatic networks constitute “real threats to our country’s border,†Djerad urged national solidarity in response to these perceived threats.On Friday, sources from within the negotiations that led to Morocco’s multilateral Western Sahara dealrevealedfar-reaching diplomacy. But there has been no mention of targeting Algeria, oraffecting Algerian domestic affairs.  Still, Djerad considered the deal between Morocco and the White House to have been driven by “a real desire to attack Algeria.” Morocco’s re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel, returning to a bilateral approach the country’s had in the 1990s, was presented by Djerad as “the arrival now of the Zionist entity at the gates of our borders.â€Djerad called on Algerians to not look at Algeria’s internal problems, but “unite†against the perceived foreign threats. He stated he was convinced of “the existence of real solidarity among Algerian people.” In recent weeks, Algerians have repeatedly complained over the secrecy that continues to surround the presidential office’s statements about President Tebboune’s health. In response, however, Djerad used his press conference to reassure the country. President Tebboune is working “tirelessly†to solve Algeria’s “cyclical crises,†Djerad concluded.The Algerian PM’s calls for national unity in the face of perceived foreign threats echoed earlier remarks by the government’s spokesman and minister of communication Ammar Belhimer. On December 5, Nearly a week  before the deal between the US, Morocco and Israel was announced, Belhimer was already calling for national unity in the face of “the enemies and haters.â€Morocco’s diplomatic efforts regarding Western Sahara appears to have come at an opportune time for Algeria’s leadership. President Tebboune, whose impaired health has prevented him from assuming his presidential duties for the past months, is reported to  be convalescing in Germany after receiving a month-long COVID-19 treatment. However, by invoking patriotism and “national solidarity,†the Algerian regime can brazenly ignore the president’s ill health and claim that  he is working “tirelessly†to solve the country’s crises. Tebboune’s COVID-19 status was only revealed by accident through a message of well wishes from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, yet the government still insists it was always transparent about the president’s health.“It was never a secret,†Belhimerstatedon December 5.Algeria’s 75-year-old and heavy-smoking President Tebboune has not made any public appearance since the week before his hospitalization. Without the country’s nearly all-powerful president in firm control, the prime minister and the chief of staff have aimed to present a united front in Algeria’s top brass.Meanwhile, Algeria’s internal crises continue unabated. Earlier today,  the country’s director general of national securityannouncedthat 85 police officers had died of COVID-19. But he added the reassuring news that  the country’s brave medical professionals are now seeing a steady decline in daily new infections. The government is only nowcappingprices for COVID-19 tests while serious concerns linger over the country’s handling of the pandemic.Amid the national crises in health and the economy, restrictions on Algeria’s thriving online press are being implemented and journalists continue to be jailed.For most Algerians, the government’s focus on Western Sahara and perceived foreign threats means little in terms of solving their practical, day-to-day problems. For Algeria’s leadership, the Western Sahara card has become a convenient way of distracting international and domestic attention from its own ineffective governance.

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