Algeria has earmarked a significant portion of its 2023 budget for military matters, 20% of the total, to be precise. This represents 22 billion dollars out of a total of 90 billion dollars, a large part of which should be used for the purchase of arms, equipment and missiles. The amount spent on defense is more than twice as high as last year, which testifies to the instability of the situation in the North African region, where rival Morocco is also carrying out record investments in the field of defence.
In this context, Algerian President Abdelmajdid Tebboune has set his sights on Russia and the agreements that can be concluded with the country presided over by Vladimir Putin. The arms contracts with Moscow could represent between 12 and 17 billion dollars. However, it is worth recalling the bill published on September 28 which prevents parliamentarians from dealing with defense and foreign affairs issues because they are considered “sensitive”.
The bill states that “members of parliament may interrogate the government on matters of national importance and on the status of the application of laws, except matters relating to national defense and state secrets. in foreign affairs”. And members of the Algerian parliament are not the only ones affected. Tebboune also decided, during the last meeting of the Council of Ministers, to “restrict any authorization of the media on matters related to national defence”, which further reinforces the secrecy surrounding any arms transaction by the Algerian government.
It is no longer just about the secrecy surrounding decisions on military matters or foreign relations. The opposition wonders about the reason for this massive increase in investments in armaments. Youssef Ajeisa, deputy of the Movement of the society for peace, affirms that “It’s the people’s money and we have the right to ask why”. And it is logical that this question should be asked in the Lower House because if you look at defense spending in recent years, the growth is very significant. In 2015 alone, military spending reached $13 billion, a figure that declined in subsequent years.
Today, with the increase in the arms budget and the growing tension with Morocco since the diplomatic rupture more than a year ago, Tebboune sees Russia as an asset that can strengthen his country. The deals Algiers wants to sign with Moscow would include obtaining modern defense systems, advanced warplanes and warships, and combat units. The Russian-Algerian understanding is not new. Already last November, Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra told Sputnik that they had “a broad program of cooperation and (…) Algeria and Russia are important for each other”.
Lamamra is not the only one to express the closeness between the two countries. The Russian ambassador to Algeria also indicated that the two countries are looking forward to “important events” and are working to “strengthen the partnership in energy, mining, industry and scientific research”. However, the strategic agreements are not the only thing that unites the two countries. On the horizon is Algeria’s desire to join the BRICS organization, of which Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa are already members. These new agreements with the Kremlin constitute a new stage in the relations between Algeria and Russia, which should continue to strengthen in the near future.