Algeria’s relations with Turkey are warming up at lightning speed. This has become even more clear as the newly but self elected Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune roped in the emerging Middle Eastern powerhouse Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
Algeria’s president has been able to secure a favour over a phone call from Erdogan in securing the return of a fugitive military official who fled Algeria days after its powerful army chief died in December 2019. This has been confirmed by top Algerian security personnel to the media.
The fugitive Guermit Bounouira is known to have leaked Algerian military secrets. He is now going to face a military judge in Blida prison southwest of Algiers next week.
Turkey’s support to Algeria is a part of Erdogan’s strategy to create a buffer around Libya that is a huge piece of the oil pie for the former. Off late, Erdogan has been moving around the world, systematically, projecting himself as a savior of the Muslim community, trying to give away free favours. His recent interactions with Pakistan against India are one of them.
After Tebboune has come into power, his closeness with Erdogan can also be seen in the Algerian reciprocation towards Libya’s UN recognized government. But this was not so till some time back. The increasing tension in Libya and the fact that it shares a border of 900 kilometers stretching between both countries makes it important for Algeria to play a part in the Libyan turmoil.
Algeria has held a firm doctrine of non-intervention. But since 2017, rumors have swirled about clandestine Algerian units conducting targeted counter-terrorism operations inside Libya.
Maybe this is also one reason that Erdogan has welcomed the newly appointed regional power Tebboune repeatedly for talks to Libya and Turkey as well. The latter has reciprocated and now using the growing power dynamics to win something for his small nation too.
It is known that Tebboune only came into power because of his closeness with late army chief Ahmed Gaed Salah, who suddenly died of a heart attack a week after Tebboune’s coming into power. Also, Bounouira was a top aide to Salah and has now raised concerns whether his act of treason could have been espionage from the beginning.