French President Emmanuel Macron paid a three-day visit to Algeria from August 25 to 27 to strengthen the strategic influence of French imperialism in Africa. Amid NATO’s war against Russia in Ukraine, Macron has also demanded energy guarantees from Algeria, Africa’s largest natural gas exporter, as the cutoff of Russian gas purchases by the countries of NATO threatens to cause catastrophic energy shortages and social dislocation in Europe this winter.
Macron was accompanied by Catherine MacGregor, CEO of natural gas company Engie, billionaire telecommunications magnate Xavier Niel, several ministers and military officers. Nevertheless, the Elysée presidential palace implausibly asserted that Algerian gas was “not really the subject of the visit”, adding that there would be “no major contract announcements”.
“It is clear that Algeria has become more important on the energy front [for France]. But the Italians arrived first, the Ukrainian crisis was already serious in November last year and they started negotiations,” said energy expert Francis Ghilès of the CIDOB research center in Barcelona, referring to a 4 billion euro agreement signed last month between Algeria and Italy.
For French imperialism, relations with Algeria are essential not only for the profits of large French companies, in particular thanks to Algerian gas resources, but also for waging war in the Sahel. France launched a war in Mali in 2013, following the 2011 war in Libya. As it withdraws its troops from Mali nine years later, France is seeking to expand its influence across West Africa as it faces challenges from economic rivals in the region, including China and Russia.
Macron’s visit to Algeria comes as the imperialist powers in NATO led by the United States are intensifying the war against Russia in Ukraine and increasing threats of war against China. Politics. While backing an all-out NATO war with Russia, Macron pledged to increase military spending while stepping up attacks on the working class.
French imperialism is deeply concerned about the growing influence of China and Russia, which have strengthened their bilateral relations with the Algerian regime in recent years. France is no longer Algeria’s main trading partner, long since replaced by China. Visiting Algeria in May, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said trade between Russia and Algeria reached $3 billion last year.
Algeria abstained when the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution in March calling on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine. In early August, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said Algeria could apply to join BRICS, the bloc of emerging economies that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. “The BRICS are of interest to us,” Tebboune said in a TV interview. “They are an economic and political force.”
During his trip, Macron made belligerent statements against Russia, China and Turkey. Amid growing opposition to French imperialism in the region, Macron accused them and Islamist forces of portraying France as their country’s “enemy”. Macron told young Africans to “not be fooled” by the “tremendous manipulation” of “networks” controlled by foreign powers hostile to France.
“I simply mean African youth: explain the problem to me and don’t get carried away because your future is not anti-France,” Macron said. He warned: “Let’s be clear. Many militants of political Islam have an enemy: France. Many of its networks are guided behind the scenes, by Turkey, Russia or China, and have an enemy: France. He denounced “the agenda of influence, both neo-colonial and imperialist” of these three countries.
Remarkably, Macron called them “anti-France,” a term employed by the Nazi-collaborator Vichy regime during World War II to describe Jews and communists targeted for deportation and extermination.
Macron’s denunciation of China and Russia as “imperialist” powers is an absurd historical and political lie. It was French imperialism – not China, Turkey or Russia – that colonized North West Africa. and which still aims to impose its neo-colonial interests by waging war throughout the region. The French imperialist wars in Libya and Mali plunged all of North Africa into war, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of people.
Indeed, Macron’s visit coincided with the 60th anniversary of the end of the eight-year Algerian War (1954-1962) which ended 132 years of French rule with the proclamation of the independence of the Algeria in 1962. His visit to Algeria was widely reported as an attempt to mend relations with Algeria after a diplomatic crisis erupted between Paris and Algiers following Macron’s inflammatory remarks on Algeria last October.
Macron had provocatively asserted that “the Algerian nation after 1962 was built on the exploitation of historical memory”. It was a reference to the heroic and bloody struggle of the Algerian people against French colonialism in the 1954-1962 war of independence. Macron accused Algeria of rewriting history and encouraging “hate towards France”. He also wondered if Algeria existed as a nation before French colonization. Algeria responded by recalling its ambassador to France for three months in protest.
On the first day of his trip to the country, Macron said he wanted to open “a new page” in bilateral relations with Algeria with more honesty and openness on France’s role in Algeria.
“We have a common past, it’s complex, painful and it has sometimes prevented us from looking to the future,” Macron said, calling for “great humility” to look to the future. He announces the creation of a “mixed commission of historians, opening our archives and making it possible to approach the whole of this historical period, decisive for us, from the beginning of colonization to the war of liberation”. This must be done “without taboos, with a willingness to work freely, historically, with full access to our archives”, he said.
Bowing to Macron, Tebboune hypocritically hailed what he called “encouraging results” from the discussions and hailed “promising prospects to be drawn in the privileged partnership that binds us”.
With the help of the Algerian bourgeois nationalist regime, Macron tries to whitewash the crimes of French imperialism during the Algerian war. The criminal colonial war waged by French imperialism left half a million Algerians dead. Out of 10 million Algerians at the time, France held 3 million in internment camps. Twenty-five thousand French soldiers died during the war and more than 60,000 were injured. Of the 1.5 million French soldiers involved in the war, mostly young conscripts, many returned traumatized by the crimes they had seen or committed.
In his attempt to revise the history of French imperialism in Africa, Macron is stepping up attacks on Africans, including drastically reducing the number of visas he grants to Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian citizens. The French government said the decision was necessitated by the failure of its former colonies to do enough to allow the return of illegal migrants.
Pursuing a far-right policy of witch-hunting and deporting immigrants, Macron pledges to fight against immigrants arriving in France. He said he wanted to “work together” with the Algerian capitalist regime to be “more effective” in the fight against illegal immigration. “What we have decided is to work together with a certain collective trust. … We will be very rigorous in fighting together against immigration and clandestine networks and be much more effective in stopping them and effectively accompanying people at home.
The fight against the imperialist assault that Macron is preparing against the working class requires the unification and mobilization of the working class in France, Algeria and all of Africa against imperialist war in an international struggle for socialism.