The sharp increase in gas prices and France’s withdrawal from Mali have boosted Algeria’s international profile. As Algeria returns cautiously to the world stage, the French and Algerian presidents are engaging in a serious strategic conversation. This dialogue is however complicated by France’s reluctance to address the question of contamination from nuclear tests carried out in the Sahara in the 1960s. The French military exit from Mali has seen regional countries – rather than the United States and France – taking the lead on enhancing security in the Sahel under the auspices of the Comité d’Etat Major Opérationnel Conjoint (CEMOC), which groups the army chiefs of Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Even so, Algeria is unlikely to be able to fully capitalise on France’s departure and regain the influence, indeed the swagger, it enjoyed internationally in the 1970s and 80s. The reason: Algeria’s failure to enact bold economic reforms, depriving the country of a much more vibrant economy.
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