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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05ALGIERS1379 2005-07-09 16:35:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Algiers
Cable title:  

PRESIDENT BOUTEFLIKA'S INTERVIEW IN THE TUNISIAN

Tags:   PREL PBTS PHUM MO AG WI 
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1. (C) Part of the continuing problem between Morocco and
Algeria stems from their habit of protesting their own side's
innocence while giving highly colored and exaggerated
accounts of the other side's actions and statements. To take
but one example, Algerian protestations that Bouteflika's
letter to the Polisario and references to a Sahrawi right to
self-determination and independence were nothing more than a
restatement of long-standing positions totally lacked
credibility. These professions of innocence were belied by
subsequent explanations that hardened Algerian rhetoric was a
response to perceived Moroccan provocations and insults. (Ref
A)



2. (C) On the Moroccan side, from an Algiers viewpoint at
least, there is a similar tendency to misrepresent,
exaggerate, and overinterpret Algerian statements. Deputy
Foreign Minister Fassi Fihri, in particular, is a repeat
offender in making broad charges or statements that are not
born out by a close look at the spoken or written record.
The most recent example is his complaint to Ambassador Riley
(Ref B) about Bouteflika's "call for independence" in his
interview with a Tunisian daily (republished in Algeria's
official newspaper El-Moudjahid July 2). In the interview,
Bouteflika referred only to the Sahrawi right to
self-determination and, while it mentioned historic examples
of self-determination in Timor, Brunei, and Belize, it
neither called for Sahrawi independence nor used the word
"independence." (See quotes below)



3. (U) Excerpts from Bouteflika's interview in the Tunisian
publication Realites, republished July 2 in El-Moudjahid.

Western Sahara: "The question of the Western Sahara is
debated each time as if it were a question that is new or
little known. The problem, however, is several decades old
and arose as an issue of decolonization at the same time as
the issues of Timor, Brunei, and Belize. Its solution lies
in the exercise by the Sahrawi people of their right to
self-determination. This was always the decision of the
United Nations, obviously accepted by Algeria but equally
accepted by Morocco, which suddenly changed its position
after the submission of the Baker Plan to the UN Security
Council. The position of Algeria has never varied and my
letter to the President of the Polisario only reaffirmed it."

AMU Construction: "The process of Maghreb construction has
nothing to do with the dispute between Morocco and the
Polisario. ...Algeria is deeply attached to the construction
of the Arab Maghreb Union. But the latter cannot be the
object of a blackmail that is all the more unacceptable
because the question of the Western Sahara concerns only
Morocco, the Polisario Front, and the United Nations. I do
not need to say that we remain deeply attached to the
construction of the Arab Maghreb Union. We have amply
demonstrated this commitment when, for more than ten years,
Algeria held the presidency and repeatedly tried in vain to
organize a summit in Algiers. We remain faithful to this
policy."

Bilateral Relations with Morocco: "The level of our
bilateral relations obviously depends on the political will
of each of the parties. Regarding Algeria, I reiterate our
desire to construct with our Moroccan brothers durable
relations based on mutual respect, trust, cooperation, and
partnership in all fields. I have always suggested that the
question of the Western Sahara should remain an issue for the
UN and that one should exclude this dispute from becoming an
issue between us, thus permitting the development of our
cooperation in all fields..."


ERDMAN