In recent days, the Algerian government has consolidated a rapprochement with Italy as a strategic partner in Europe in response to the “narrow and selfish calculations” of Spain, whose government recently gave its support to the Moroccan autonomy plan. of Western Sahara, a turning point strongly criticized by Algiers.
“Italy is a friendly country that has always been present in the most difficult circumstances and it is above all a country that constantly adheres to positions of principle on regional issues of common interest, contrary to what we have just live with other partners in the region, more experienced in duplicities and narrow, selfish calculations,” the Algerian government’s special envoy for Western Sahara and the Maghreb countries, Amar Belani, said in an interview with the portal. Algerian information TSA.
Thus, Belani defended projects aimed at “guaranteeing a gradual increase in the share of Algerian natural gas” on the Italian market “in the short, medium and long term”.
These developments depend on ongoing “technical discussions” to increase natural gas production from “joint projects in Algeria” and to “launch new joint initiatives in Algeria for gas exploration and production from confirmed geological basins. “.
On April 11, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi traveled to Algiers where he signed an agreement for a nearly 50% increase in imports of Algerian natural gas.
The increase in exports would make Algeria Italy’s top natural gas supplier, replacing Russia, by increasing its shipments by an additional 9 to 10 billion cubic meters per year by the end of 2022.
Italy received about 21 billion cubic meters of gas from Algeria in 2021, compared to about 29 billion cubic meters from Russia.
Risk of armed conflict with Morocco
In addition, Belani warned of a “possible spillover” of Moroccan “warmongering actions” into Algerian territory as Moroccan forces attack “traders and civilians” with the aim of hindering trade between Algeria and the country. Mauritania.
The Algerian ambassador was referring to the death on April 10 of two civilians, a woman and her son, in the attack of a Moroccan drone on a truck in Ain Bentili, on the border between Western Sahara and Mauritania .
Belani recalled that there is an agreement between Algeria and Mauritania to build a road between the Algerian province of Tindouf and the Mauritanian city of Zuerat as an alternative to the road that connects Morocco to Mauritania via Guerguerat, in dispute between Morocco and the Polisario Front. Saharan.
“Rabat is aware that the strengthening of trade between Algeria and Mauritania will give the latter country greater leeway in the strategic issue of diversifying its trade flows,” said Mr. Belani.
The Algerian diplomat believes that the new road would break the “quasi-monopoly” of the Guerguerat road and “allow Mauritania to distance itself from an expansionist regime which still dreams of a Greater Morocco whose fanciful borders border the Senegal River. “.
When this road is completed, “Moroccan leaders will have to face the nightmare scenario of insularity which will transform their country into an island wedged between Mauritania, Western Sahara whose final status remains to be determined, and Algeria, as pivotal state in the central Maghreb”.
For Belani “these are the foundations and the motivations of these abominable selective assassinations, acts of state terrorism that Morocco cowardly perpetrates against peaceful merchants and innocent civilians who do not represent a threat to the Moroccan occupying forces”.
Thus, an “overflow of these war actions” on Algerian territory “would be considered a ‘casus belli’ even if Algeria proclaims that it will wage war only in self-defense”.