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Cable que recoge la opinión del embajador francés en Argelia

La Embajada de EE UU recoge las consideraciones del actual coordinador de los servicios secretos de la ex potencia colonial

ID: 138656
Date: 2008-01-25 11:17:00
Origin: 08ALGIERS85
Source: Embassy Algiers
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno:
Destination: VZCZCXRO1124
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ALGIERS 000085

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/25/2028
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, KDEM, FR, AG
SUBJECT: FRENCH AMBASSADOR: BOUTEFLIKA MAY NOT NEED TO
MOVE BUT ALGERIA NEEDS TO


Classified By: Ambassador Robert Ford, reason 1.4 (d)

1. (C) French Ambassador Bajolet told the Ambassador on
January 23 that he and the French government are worried that
Algeria is gradually headed towards more instability, but
they do not see an alternative to Bouteflika's remaining in
power for a third term beginning in 2009. Bajolet, who
served here in the 1980s, said that the French strategic
interest in Algeria above all is stability and economic
growth. Increased pressure on Algerians to emigrate to
France because of a lack of opportunities in Algeria weighs
heavily on French political sensitivities and ultimately on
the social ties between the two countries. The French
government, he said, sees few positive developments in
Algeria now:

-- municipalities, who are closest to the population, have
no authority or resources to address needs locally;
-- there is an inability throughout the government to make
hard decisions; Bajolet called it a kind of immobilism;
-- the political parties have little space and seem ready
to make short-term deals at long-term political loss;
-- public interest in the formal political system has
diminished sharply, as seen in the two 2007 elections;
-- the business climate is difficult and not improving;
and investment and job creation are lacking (Bajolet noted
that a French business association had prepared a white paper
that detailed problems French companies face in Algeria and
how to recitify them. Bajolet observed that the Interior
Minister Zerhouni and the Algerian government were anxious
that it not be released publicly.);
-- corruption, all the way up to the Bouteflika brothers,
has reached a new level and is interfering with economic
development;

BOUTEFLIKA'S THIRD TERM AMBITIONS
---------------------------------

2. (C) Bajolet said he understood that the security service
leadership has given its approval for the constitution to be
changed so that Bouteflika can run for election again in
2009. Bajolet stated that Bouteflika's health is better and
that he might live several more years. His improved health
and activity has given him more leverage over the army, he
speculated. That said, Bajolet also opined that the
consensus within the top security leadership to support a
third term for Bouteflika resulted in part from the
widespread view that Bouteflika will not finish his third
term due to his his health problems. The relationship
between the security services and Bouteflika is still
ticklish. For example, the French have concluded that the
security services encouraged Minister of Veteran Affairs
Cherif Abbas to criticize Sarkozy on the eve of the French
president's visit in order to embarrass Bouteflika by
provoking the French to cancel the trip.

3. (C) Bajolet said the French are being extremely careful
about what they say to the Algerians about changing the
constituton and enabling Bouteflika to run for the third term
that everyone understands he will win. Bajolet sensed that
the Algerians clearly floated the idea publicly again right
before Sarkozy's visit in December to test whether the French
president would advise against it. He intentionally did not
do so. Bajolet observed that the French see no obvious
successor to Bouteflika. Former Prime Minister Hamrouche, he
noted, speaks of reform but the French are unsure whether he
could actually push through a reform program. Former Prime
Minister Ouyahia, they believe, is yet another apparatchik
and has little popularity in the country. Bajolet concluded
that without an obvious successor, pushing against Bouteflika
simply opens up new sources of instability. Instead, the
French have decided that the best message for them to deliver
is that they are neutral on the issue of Bouteflika's third
term but that the government needs to start addressing
Algeria's serious economic and political problems. (Bajolet
is particularly interested in decentralization, for example.)

SECURITY
--------

4. (C) Bajolet expressed great concern about the security
situation and asked numerous questions about our latest
warden message. Our recommendations that Americans avoid

ALGIERS 00000085 002 OF 002


Western schools had put him in a difficult spot, he noted,
since there are two official French schools in Algiers.
Bajolet asserted that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
appears to target the Algerian government mainly and targets
foreigners only as a means to embarrass the government. The
Ambassador disagreed, expressing his view that AQIM is
targeting both but with different goals. It targets the GoA
to embarrass it and as a means of retaliating for AQIM
losses. It targets foreigners to drive them out of Algeria
(and ultimately help destabilize the GoA). Bajolet noted
that there are multiple French vulnerabilities, including
French cultural centers around Algeria and scattered
diplomatic residences. So far, however, the Algerian
security services have handled threats to the French
appropriately and have, he claimed, kept the French
authorities informed.

5. (C) COMMENT: Bajolet opined that external pressure on the
government here to try to force it to drop the Bouteflika
third-term idea will not compel the GoA to drop it. Instead,
he thought, it would merely make working with the Algerians
more difficult, and the French now perceive that on both
security and economic/social issues they must work with
Algiers. He readily admitted that the medium- and long-term
outlook here is not good unless the government really begins
to fix the economy and the political system. He was not
confident that it would, but he had no clear idea of what to
do in that case.
FORD