Guest Column: Mphumzi Mdekazi
ALGERIA today is a country that lives in peace and enjoys stability in a region marked by turbulence as a result of terror threats and mass migrations. Bordering the Mediterranean Sea, the gateway to Europe, the North African country is strategically important for security and trade.
Algeria places a particular premium on the policy of deradicalisation by quelling violent extremism.
It is seventh in the 2016 and 2017 rankings of the world’s safest countries as determined by Gallup’s index. The country has also played a role in the geopolitical environment in certain parts of the region, particularly Libya and the Sahel.
Algeria’s action is based on principles of non-interference in the affairs of others, equidistance to all parties, positions and interests and conflict-resolution processes without foreign pressure.
There is respect for territorial integrity of the countries concerned, for their sovereignty and national cohesion. It is always in line with the spirit and letter of the United Nations Charter and in strict compliance with international law and universal values.
The outgoing African Union (AU) chairperson, President Paul Kagame, doesn’t subscribe to this doctrine; he is dividing the continent for his narrow ends. He is perturbed by leaders with strong revolutionary convictions to a point of telling how other Heads of State should compose their cabinets. A module on the politics of equidistance, international law and sovereign integrity would come in handy for him, especially with his ambition to lead the UN one day.
Hopefully, the leadership of the AU, in the hands of Egypt, will unite the continent in a revolutionary way, given that Africa has a grave deficit of revolutionary leaders.
Algeria’s revolutionary mediations contributed to the conclusion of the Iran-Iraq border agreement in 1975, the release of United States diplomats held hostage in Tehran in 1981, the peace agreement signed by Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2000, which enabled these countries to restore relations and consider their common future, the mediation in the Great Lakes crisis and the conclusion of the Ta’if Agreement that ended the civil war in Lebanon.
Today, using these revolutionary principles, Algeria is committed to peace processes in Libya and Mali and the de-Moroccanisation of Western Sahara. It develops multi-dimensional co-operation in the fight against violent extremism, together with its northern and southern neighbour.
In Libya, Algeria is following a route similar to that of South Africa regarding its neighbour, Zimbabwe, and fully supports the efforts and roadmap of the UN for a political solution between all Libyan parties.
In Mali, Algeria commits to the implementation of the Algiers Peace Agreement, despite the proliferation of acts of violence. In Western Sahara, Algeria supports efforts by the UN so that the people of this territory get their inalienable right to self-determination, in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions and international law. It is this spirit that has seen it participate as an observer, just as Mauritania, the other neighbouring country, in the recent round of negotiations in Geneva, organised by the special representative of the UN secretary-general for Western Sahara.
While organising the security response to the aggression that targeted Algeria, a policy of deradicalisation has been implemented. This has made it possible for the people in the region to live in peace, stability and security and to devote resources to socio-economic development. This policy is based on the belief that the security option, while essential, is not sufficient on its own to bring stability.
Among the principles on which deradicalisation is based, is the fight against exclusion and the promotion of social justice, equal opportunity, the rule of law, good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms. The independence of justice system plays a central role in achieving peace and regional stability. The extremist discourse based on exclusivity and exclusion thus defeated, devalued and emptied of its substance and its scope by the levers that underpin the stability and durability of modern societies.
Algeria is working to promote and anchor in the minds and behaviours of citizens and institutions the value of living together in economic peace. The Algerian authorities quickly realised that for the war on terror to be won required the involvement of other sectors — media, education, technology, culture, politics and socioeconomics.
The question was not who was involved in this fight, but rather who was not. Thus, at the political level, the 2016 constitutional amendment included institutional reforms launched in previous years and the consolidation of democracy by the widening of democratic spaces.
By the way, former South Africa President Nelson Mandela received his military training in Algeria.
Mphumzi Mdekazi is a PhD candidate at Stellenbosch University, South Africa