Algerian police has become some sort of an international benchmark, following the December 12, 2016 consultative meeting in Algiers of many African Police officials.  It is also hosting today May 14, 15 and 16, 2017, the first General Assembly of AFRIPOL with the participation of 48 African countries. AFRIPOL meeting in Algiers to face the continent’s issues will be a long awaited opportunity for the African police forces representatives to define the general frameworks of cooperation at all national, continental and international levels institutions.

This article is as a matter of fact a summary of my contributions and international interventions between 2010 and 2016 (1).

The Mediterranean and African regions should know between 2017, 2020 and 2025, deep socio-economic, technological, but also security reconfigurations.  Algerian police as an international reference, decided to strengthen the areas of cooperation with its African counterparts by putting its knowledge and experience at the disposal of all peers.

For this purpose and following the signing in 2001 of a memorandum between the African Union and Interpol to define channels appropriate for communication, exchange of information and views between the different parties, establishing an African police (AFRIPOL) mechanism whose headquarters is in Algiers since end of 2015 under the auspices of the African Union, aimed to work towards the coordination of efforts and to support the action of the missions of peace and security keeping within the African Union countries.

AFRIPOL is a communication, consultation, cooperation and coordination in all affairs of the African police. Indeed, focusing first on its own strategic interests, part of the Mediterranean dialogue (MD), Algeria is based on a number of principles and from a proven willingness to contribute to the promotion of security and stability of the continent.

It is the end of the cold war, marked by the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001 that represent a crucial turning point in contemporary history. The first event marks the end of a world born half a century earlier and dislocation of international architecture which resulted many decades later on by divisions, heartbreak, and wars that we know.

Today, the threats to security are called terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional crises and disintegration of some States.

However, the new collective challenges are another source of threat; such as concerns about water resources, poverty, epidemics and the environment and these are of course local, regional and global.  Between the distant and very present America and the nearby and distant Europe, between a hegemonic and comprehensive strategy that owns all the means of its implementation and projection, and a strategy to global vocation that is laboriously built and that struggles to become self-reliant and to project into its immediate geopolitical environment, how to behave and what choices are there for Algeria to make?

Called upon and solicited, Algeria questions legitimately itself on the role, the place or the interest of such option or this frame holds or offers, whether it is the Mediterranean dialogue of NATO or of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, in its economic or security dimension.  Adaptation being the key to survival and pragmatism one eminently modern tool in the management of inter-nations relationships, that Algeria together with all in its segment of North Africa as a bridge between Europe and Africa must do with.

Because the current security issues in the Sahel-Saharan area not forgetting that the relationships between the two outer edges of the Sahara do challenge Algeria which must be attentive to the future geo-strategic issues that are emerging in the region.   We have seen, profound changes in geo-politics in the Sahara after the collapse of the Libyan regime and the French intervention following the secession of northern Mali.

The relationship between the Sahel and the Gaddafi Libya having been complex, these are even more complicated with many sub-Saharan migrants settling in the countries of the Maghreb.  In fact, well before and especially since the fall of the regime of Kadhafi, the Sahel region has become a space outside any central authority where armed groups and smugglers settled.

Hence, security of Algeria’s borders is and will be under question with notably that of the 1376 km long with Mali, the 982 km with Libya and the 956 km with Niger and the 965 km with Tunisia to watch; the Moroccan one being closed for some time.

In the short term, tensions in the region especially for the protection of its borders, the situation in Libya, in Mali and incidentally the terrorist actions at its border with Tunisia imposed on Algeria additional expenses. It is understood that included in these would be replacement of most of the obsolete military hardware and acquisition of new equipment for the Armed Forces, not counting all those adaptations of its intelligence.

The cybercrime issue of the 21st century should also be on the agenda for it is required by the economy as cyberattacks tend to increase in volume as electronic services (e-commerce, e-health and e-Government, etc.) are called to develop.

 

Algeria has deployed a task-force to secure its borders and deal with their chronic instability that recent events confirm the continuous worsening.  And this in close cooperation with all neighbouring Maghreb and African countries, assisted by information from Europe including France and the United States of America, as the terrorist threat is a global threat.

For both the U.S. and European governments and because of its strategic location in the Maghreb and its long history of fighting terrorism and violent extremism in its territory, Algeria has become a pillar in the fight against terrorism but also a partner for bringing stability to the region.

Thus, Algeria considered being a key player for the stability of the region has nevertheless to solve its problems of development and at the same time intensify international cooperation against this global scourge.

Now, most of the leaders from North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the United States including Russia and China now all agree on the need to cooperate to confront the threat of insecurity and organized crime. It has to focus on the obligation to implement a regional strategy involving all the surrounding countries of the area in addition to the European and international partners, as of the fact that the region has become an open space for various terrorist and  other groups movements that thrive through traffic of weapons or drugs, threatening all regional security, and by extension Europe and the USA.

And as this has been highlighted at different African whether regional or international Interpol conferences, including the one held in Oran, Algeria in September 2013, where resolutions stipulating the urgency of both African that global cooperation against transnational crime with the involvement of each of the NCBs of Interpol member countries, requiring improved data bases in order to effectively combat cross-border crime and terrorism.

So it is to have all constraints removed simply because of the fact that the general corruptibility of institutions weighs heavily on all systems of law enforcement and criminal justice which in general have difficulties adapting to the new challenges posed by the sophistication of organized crime networks. Inter-jurisdictional collaboration is slowed by the heterogeneity of the legal systems notably in North Africa and black Africa.

The porosity of borders as well as coordination between large numbers of agencies responsible for security at the countries’ borders poses major problems.  At the end of the day, it is the strategy aimed to gradually attract users off the informal system onto the formal one and thus isolate the remaining criminal elements whilst decreasing collateral damage for legitimate users.

It is in this context that comes in all those attempts to reinvigorate the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue with two initiatives.  On one hand, the European neighbourhood policy and on the other hand, the strategic partnership between the EU on one side and the Mediterranean and the Middle East on the other in order to somehow stem the emigration including sub-Saharan Africa with as buffer pillar the Maghreb.

In General, on military and geo-strategic grounds it is through the activities of the group of the so-called “5 + 5” that today the reality of such a development can be appreciated.  It is that reading that the Europeans make of the threats and challenges facing the world and our region are primarily based on the need to develop a common strategy for collective and effective response, including international terrorism, human trafficking, organised crime and money laundering.

However for real efficiency and because no country would be able to alone bear the financial costs, without impacting its own development expenditure, pooling becomes strategic imperative to minimize or reduce costs.

 

In short, there is some kind of dialectic link between security and development as without security there would not be any development and vice versa.  The fight against terrorism means or would require putting an end to inequality in both global and / or within any country for if unattended, it would only increase whilst imbuing more misery therefore generating more terrorism.

Because, an all security for security’s sake has limitations as Algerian security officials know very well and that there is an existing dialectical relationship between development and security. It implies tackling the essence (co-development) and not appearances as shown in a study by the World Economic Forum  titled Global Risks 2016 – Reports -.   Security efficiency will also have to fit within a strategic vision that in the face of a world in perpetual motion, both in terms of foreign policy, economics of defense, related actions, with the latest happenings in the Sahel, on the borders of Algeria, arise the urgency of the strategies of adaptation and international and regional coordination, in order to effectively act on major events. These new challenges for both Algeria and Africa would exceed in importance and magnitude those challenges Algeria and Africa have faced so far.

 

Please address any comments to Dr A. Mebtoul  ademmebtoul@gmail.com

 

Notes :

(1) – A study by Professor Abderrahmane MEBTOUL was published by the – Institut français des relations internationales   (IFRI – Paris, France) in French “Maghreb-Europe cooperation in the face of the geostrategic stakes” (November 2011) – chapter III – “The strategy of NATO the geostrategic challenges in the Mediterranean.  Conference of the Pr Abderrahmane Mebtoul ‘development and geostrategic in the Mediterranean and Africa issues’ in Malta, 2012 at the invitation of the European Commission and on the same theme in front of the European Parliament in Brussels-2013 – see “the Maghreb the geostrategic challenges” two works (1050 pages) under the direction of Professor Mebtoul Abderrahmane and Dr. Camille Sari (36 experts Europeans and North Africans)-Edition L’Harmattan Paris 2015-