SADC, learn from Algeria how to bring peace and stability
Algeria today is a country that lives in peace and enjoys stability in a region marked by turbulence as a result of terror threats and mass migration. Bordering the Mediterranean Sea, the gateway to Europe, the North African country is strategically important for security and trade.
Algeria places a particular premium on the policy of deradicalisation by quelling violent extremism.
It is seventh in the 2016 and 2017 rankings of the world’s safest countries, as determined by Gallup’s index. The country has also played a role in the geopolitical environment in certain parts of the region, particularly Libya and the Sahel.
Algeria’s action is based on principles of noninterference in the affairs of others, equidistance to all parties, positions and interests and conflict-resolution processes without foreign pressure.
There is respect for territorial integrity of the countries concerned, for their sovereignty and their national cohesion. It is always in line with the spirit and the letter of the United Nations Charter and in strict compliance with international law and universal values.
The outgoing chair of the African Union, Paul Kagame, doesn’t subscribe to this doctrine; he is dividing the continent for his narrow ends. He is perturbed by leaders with strong revolutionary convictions, to a point of telling how other heads of states should compose their Cabinets. A module on the politics of equidistance, international law and sovereign integrity would come in handy for him, especially with his ambition to lead the UN one day.
Hopefully the leadership of the AU in the hands of Egypt will unite the continent in a revolutionary way, given that Africa has a grave deficit of revolutionary leaders.
Algeria’s revolutionary mediations contributed to the conclusion of the Iran-Iraq border agreement in 1975, the release of United States diplomats held hostage in Tehran in 1981, the peace agreement signed by Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2000, which enabled these countries to restore relations and consider their common future, the mediation in the Great Lakes crisis and the conclusion of the Ta’if Agreement that ended the civil war in Lebanon.
Today, using these revolutionary principles, Algeria is committed to peace processes in Libya and Mali and the de-Moroccanisation of Western Sahara. It develops multidimensional co-operation in the fight against violent extremism together with its northern and southern neighbours.
In Libya, Algeria is following a route similar to that of South Africa regarding its neighbour, Zimbabwe, and fully supports the efforts and roadmap of the UN for a political solution between all Libyan parties.
In Mali, Algeria commits to the implementation of the Algiers Peace Agreement, despite the proliferation of acts of violence. In the Western Sahara, Algeria supports the efforts of the UN for the exercise by the people of this territory for their inalienable right to self-determination, in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions and international law. It is in this spirit that it has participated as an observer, just as Mauritania, the other neighbouring country, has in the recent round of negotiations in Geneva organised by the special representative of the UN secretary general for Western Sahara.
While organising the security response to the aggression that targeted Algeria, a policy of deradicalisation has been implemented, though has made it possible to live in peace, stability and security and to devote resources to socioeconomic development. This policy is based on the belief that the security option, while essential, is not sufficient on its own.
Among the principles on which deradicalisation is based is the fight against exclusion and the promotion of social justice, equal opportunity, the rule of law, good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms. The independence of justice plays a central role. The extremist discourse based on exclusivity and exclusion is defeated, devalued and emptied of its substance and its scope by the levers that underpin the stability and durability of modern societies. Algeria is working to promote and anchor in the minds and behaviours of citizens and institutions the value of living together in economic peace. The Algerian authorities quickly realised that for the war on terror to be won required the involvement of other sectors — media, education, technology, cultural, political and socioeconomic.
The question was not who was involved in this fight but rather who was not. Thus, at the political level, the constitutional revision of 2016 included institutional reforms launched in previous years and the consolidation of democracy by the widening of democratic spaces.
By the way, Nelson Mandela received his military training in Algeria.
Mphumzi Mdekazi is a PhD candidate at Stellenbosch University