Algeria Closes Airspace to French Military Jets
© AFP 2022 / PHILIPPE LOPEZIn this file photo taken on January 23, 2020 a military personnel looks on in front of Rafale jet fighters on the deck of the French aircraft carrier “Charles de Gaulle” at sea, off the coast of the city of Hyeres. - The Algerian government has banned French military planes from its airspace, the French army said on October 3, 2021, amid a diplomatic crisis sparked by a visa row and reported critical comments from President Emmanuel Macron.
Recently, Algeria and France had a falling out in bilateral relations, with Algiers recalling its ambassador to Paris after the latter introduced visa curbs for Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, citing a lack of cooperation on migrant-related work.
Algeria has moved to close its airspace to military planes from France, according to multiple media reports citing a French military spokesman.
“This morning when we filed flight plans for two planes, we learned that the Algerians had stopped flights over their territory by French military planes”, French Colonel Pascal Ianni told AFP.
However, according to the French military spokesman, the decision does not impact their operations or intelligence missions, even though some adjustments in Western Africa's Sahel region had to be made.
French jets frequently fly in the area as part of its Operation Barkhane - the country's military initiative against Islamist militant groups in Western Africa.
Tensions Between France and Algeria
Relations between the two countries worsened after French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly delivered critical remarks about Algeria and its history.
According to Le Monde, Macron said Algeria was governed by a “political-military system” and claimed that its "official history" had been "totally re-written" and is now not based on "truths", but rather “on a discourse of hatred towards France”.
The remarks were immediately blasted by Algeria as interference in its internal affairs and as “an intolerable affront” to Algerians, who fought against French colonialism.
“The crimes of colonial France in Algeria are innumerable and fit the strictest definitions of genocide”, said the Algerian presidency.
The French decision to curb visas for Algerian nationals, along with those from Tunisia and Morocco, has also added fuel to the fire, with Algiers recalling its ambassador to Paris for consultations after the move.
According to France, the decision stemmed from a perceived lack of cooperation from the three nations on issuing consular passes necessary for the return of migrants expelled from France to their homelands.