Political activity between Iran and Algeria indicate that the two countries are close to mending relations after they were broken off in 1992. Secret talks are underway with the goal of reestablishing diplomatic relations and senior officials on both sides are optimistic. Ties were severed about 8 years ago after Algeria accused Iran of meddling in its internal fairs during a presidential election, which showed an overwhelming victory for Islamic fundamentalists. The army cancelled the elections, a move which sent the country into nearly a decade-long civil war.
The recent courtship is taking place amidst a light flurry of contacts between the two sides. Earlier this year, Iran dispatched a political mission to Algeria to discuss re-establishing diplomatic ties. Last month, a top advisor to Algeria's president Bouteflika visited Tehran for talks with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, an indication of improved atmosphere between the two Islamic nations. Additionally, Algeria participated in the Information Ministry's 5th Conference of Organization of Islamic (OIC), which was held in Iran between November 29 and December 2.
Algerian sources say they are now expecting positive moves on the part of Iran, which would be mirrored by Algeria. They also say that contacts between the states should be based on the principle that Iran does not intervene in Algeria's domestic affairs.
This rapprochement represents another step on the part of President Boutefika to achieve internal reconciliation with his country's Islamic elements. During Bouteflika's first few months in power, his foreign policy priorities focused on improving ties with Algeria's neighbors, specifically France and Morocco. More recently, his attention has shifted further Eastward, as improved diplomatic and commercial relations with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iran are now becoming evident.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)