Turkey-Algeria relations to sour after Ankara’s support for extremist group - report

Turkey-Algeria relations have become tense following meetings between Turkish officials and leaders of the Rachad Movement, which Algerian authorities designate as an extremist group, threatening national security, pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat said on Friday.

The two parties held two meetings in Turkey in order to discuss backing the movement to empower in Algeria, the news website said, citing the sources who spoke to Algerian newspaper el-Khabar.

“Turkey is trying to remotely intervene in the internal affairs of Algeria and destabilise the nation,” the sources said, adding that Turkey “might have decided to add Algeria to its list as a new target in North Africa and wants to mobilise the sleeper cells of this organisation.”

Algeria, like neighbouring Tunisia, had been suffering blowback from the conflict in Libya, with the increased border security believed to be costing Algiers $500 million per year, and even higher after Turkey’s military deployment which includes the influx of some 6,000 Syrian mercenaries.

With Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune deeply opposed to any influx of Turkish troops, the country still agreed to create a high-level cooperation council and boost trade by nearly 60 percent, to $5 billion with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Algeria is Turkey’s second-largest African trade partner, while Turkey has since 2017 replaced France as Algeria’s top trading partner.

Hosting Rachad members is “a provocation, which will suspend the relations between the two countries, especially at a time when leaks indicate Algeria is trying to put the movement on its list of terrorist organisations,” Asharq Al-Awsat cited Algerian sources as saying.