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31.08.2022 Author: Vladimir Danilov

The Symbolism of the “Warm” Reception Macron Faced in Algeria

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Africa as a whole and its northern and western parts especially have recently been turned into a political Mecca. Caravans of representatives of the ruling European political elite would head there in a bid to find a way out of the energy crisis unleashed by the US and the EU upon the world. This crisis came into fruition largely due to the willingness of the sitting European politicians to follow, without hesitation, any orders issued by Washington to the detriment of the interests they were elected to represent.

Thus, just in the last few days, two European politicians – French President Emmanuel Macron and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock – traveled to the Maghreb countries of Algeria and Morocco, respectively, under the slogan of developing political and economic relations. However, each of the visitors pursued the sole goal of seeking assistance from the African states in a bid to get out of the energy crisis that has Europe in its grip.

Western countries have never made a secret of their intentions to continue the neocolonial policies of pumping natural resources out of Africa. And this policy has intensified in recent months, especially against the backdrop of the European energy crisis. For example, in May, citing an EU document, Bloomberg reported on the European Union’s intention to “cooperate” with African states, particularly Angola, Nigeria, and Senegal, in the energy sector to reduce its dependence on Russian gas imports.

However, as the same Bloomberg agency pointed out on July 11, African states view this approach as continuation of the hypocritical exploitation by the EU. Most African countries send almost all of the gas they produce to Europe, to the detriment of the gasification of government projects and households across Africa. Because of their ability to get away with those policies, Western countries are reluctant to finance the construction of pipelines in Africa and fail to keep their promises to finance environmentally friendly projects that could help in developing alternative sources of energy. Rich countries have failed to meet the $100 billion target for climate projects, which is also causing growing frustration and anger in Africa. African leaders, who need to funnel millions in order to aid the population out of poverty, were furious at this overtly consumerist approach on the part of the West, calling the sudden European interest in gas deals in recent months a double standard that has in many ways worsened the exploitation of the region by the West.

The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, brusquely stated, that Africa needs a long-term partnership, not inconsistency and contradiction in green energy policies on the part of the UK and the EU. “The policies being pursued by the West are not helping its energy security, the Nigerian economy, or the environment. This is the hypocrisy that must be put to an end,” the Nigerian head of state underlined.

Although many African leaders support the notion of increasing gas exports, they also want to access the financial flows that would allow them to nurture domestic natural gas markets.

Interestingly enough, criticism of Western policies toward African states can be heard across the West just as well. For example, the former head of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Carlos Lopez, considers the EU countries’ appeal for Africa to increase gas supplies hypocritical. “It is outrageous to tell Africans to not consider the options they have in front of them, and at the same time to urge them to meet the demand for gas in Europe because of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict,” Lopez said. And Vijaya Ramachandran, director of energy and development at the California Breakthrough Institute analysis center, described such policies of the European Union as “green colonialism,” since rich countries exploit the resources of poorer countries while denying those poor countries access to fossil fuels in the name of fighting climate change.

But it is not just the energy aspect that is a stumbling block in the West’s relations with African countries today. The Black Continent has become a new center of resistance to neocolonialism and foreign expansion, primarily French, that manifests itself specifically in the organization of coups d’état to control “runaway” countries through puppet governments. That is why the military brass across Africa has recently been trying to “break” such a system of renewed neocolonialism through coups, mainly through staging military “counter-coups”: in Mali in 2020, in Guinea in 2021, and now in Burkina Faso. All this shows that the European and American missions and projects on the African continent, such as “Francafrica” or “Atlantafrica,” are failing and a new system independent of the West is replacing them.

This is the precisely why France loses its influence on the African Continent, compounding the utter failure of “Francafrica” and, above all, of the policies of Emmanuel Macron personally, who has tried verbally to distance himself from the neocolonialist rule but has nevertheless fallen into the trap of the old system. The result is that France has already lost this region of the world, in spite of the regular visits paid by French politicians.

The growing anti-French sentiment in Africa and intransigence towards Parisian policies in the region was also highlighted by Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Algeria, where a group of Oran residents chanted crude insults against the French president, and someone shouted slogans against France and its policies towards Algeria.

It is also worth noting that the Turkish Foreign Ministry has recently urged the French president to acknowledge the negative consequences of the colonial past of the country he heads and not to try to downplay historical realities. This was Ankara’s response to the anti-Turkish remarks Macron made during his visit to Algeria where he falsely claimed that “neocolonial structures in Turkey, Russia, and China that display activism and imperialist designs” oppose the Fifth Republic.

Under these conditions, the West’s neocolonial disregard for African countries and the arrival of new actors on the continent, especially Russia, China, Turkey, and other Islamic states, is natural. Given Russia’s remarkable recent activities in Africa, as well as African states’ appreciation for the significant assistance the Soviet Union provided them in the recent past in helping the continent’s fight for independence and assisting newborn countries in building their economies, it is not surprising that Russian flags are increasingly seen alongside local and pan-African banners at African rallies.

Vladimir Danilov, political commentator, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook“.


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