Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine could be felt even in the Arab world, with in particular the rise in wheat prices. The US Secretary of State was conducting a multi-day regional tour of Algeria, an ally of Moscow.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday, March 30, that the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine could be felt even in the Arab world, where especially the rise in wheat prices ended in Algeria, an ally of Moscow, a regional trip.
Arriving from Morocco, Algeria’s regional rival, Antony Blinken spoke in Algiers with his colleague Ramtane Lamamra, before being received by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
The head of US diplomacy had attended the opening of his regional tour earlier this week in Israel, in a kibbutz in the Negev desert, in an unprecedented meeting with his Israeli colleagues and those from four Arab countries, including Morocco.
Although Algeria, an ardent supporter of the Palestinians, is fiercely hostile to it, Antony Blinken confirmed during a press conference in Algiers that Washington intended “to support this (Israeli-Arab) normalization and to encourage other countries to join it.” .
But his main message was about the war in Ukraine.
“In the case of Ukraine, there is an obvious aggressor and an obvious victim, and it is important to stand with the victim,” he said, as several countries in the region, including Algeria, have refrained from criticizing Russia for fear of compromising. their relationship. with Moscow.
To support his message, the head of US diplomacy confirmed that the Russian invasion of Ukraine had had a direct impact on the region with the price increase caused by the war.
“Rising food prices”
“I think the impact is being felt. Although the conflict is taking place far from the region, in Europe, it is having a direct impact on the people of the region, especially with the rise in food prices, especially wheat,” he said.
“I have understood from my discussions with many colleagues in recent days that this pain is felt acutely in this region. Most countries import at least half of their wheat,” including Russia and Ukraine are among the main suppliers, he added.
His visit comes as relations between Algeria and Morocco are undergoing a serious crisis, the core of which is the issue of the disputed territory of Western Sahara, which for decades has pitted Rabat against Sahrawi separatists backed by Algiers.
If in Rabat he had reiterated the US support for the autonomy plan – “serious, credible and realistic” – presented by Morocco to settle the “strife”, he was careful not to do so in Algiers, in an apparent concern not to offend his Guests.
He thus contented himself with confirming that Washington “continues to support the efforts of the United Nations” and of the personal envoy of the UN Secretary-General, Staffan de Mistura. “There has been no change in our position.”
The Biden administration has so far been less eager than the previous one – Donald Trumps – which promised in December 2020 to open a consulate in Dakhla, Western Sahara, recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over this area in return for the normalization of relations between Morocco and Israel.
The crisis between the two Maghreb heavyweights culminated in the severance of their diplomatic relations in August 2021 at the initiative of Algiers.
Following this breach, in October Algeria closed the Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline, which transports Algerian gas to Spain and passes through Morocco.
According to press reports, Algeria rejected a US request to increase the flow of gas to Europe by reopening this Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline during a recent visit by Under-US Secretary of State Windy Sherman to Algiers.
Antony Blinken did not mention this file during his press conference.