The United States has long counted on Algeria as an ally in North Africa. In fact, their relations can be traced as far back as 1783, when Algeria recognized the independence of the young American republic. A dozen years later, the two signed a Treaty of Amity and Peace – one of the Barbary Treaties – during the presidency of John Adams. While the treaties ultimately fell through, and privateering once again disrupted U.S. shipping in the region leading to war, modern-day Algeria has proved to be a much more dependable partner in diplomacy and defense, as well as in trade.
President Obama has clearly stated his support for the country. “The United States is committed to continuing our co-operation with the government of Algeria as it works to represent and meet the needs of all Algerians.”
“Not only is Algeria a key U.S. ally against global terrorism, but also
an undeniable economic partner.”
Mourad Medelci, Algeria’s Foreign Minister
In January Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci to Washington D.C., and one month later Secretary Clinton accepted the invitation to visit Algiers. In the White House Treaty Room, Mrs. Clinton observed that, “Our two nations have worked closely on security and economic issues, particularly counter-terrorism, for more than a decade.”
She added that the U.S. is “committed to working with Algeria to support an open, free, democratic nation with a thriving civil society and institutions that give the Algerian people the future they so deserve.”
Though separated by thousands of miles and entirely different in make-up, Algeria and the United States do have one bonding aspect in common: they are both former colonies. John F. Kennedy, while still a senator, spoke passionately in support of Algeria’s independence while the country struggled for freedom in the 1950s. While independence came to the North African state nearly 200 years after the U.S. separated from Great Britain, Algeria has already made great gains – though as all Algerian leaders will point out, there is still much to do.
Minister Medelci also notes that the path has not been without difficulties over the past half century, but that the struggles endured can help Algerians move forward. “The freedom, stability, progress and democracy that we now enjoy in Algeria 50 years after its independence are the outcome of huge sacrifices and important efforts that we need to value today, in order to better preserve them for the future,” he says.
Algeria’s stability has underlined the success of its democratic government in improving living conditions for its people in just a short amount of time. As Algerian Ambassador to the United States Abdallah Baali stresses, “In 50 years, thanks to free education and healthcare for all, the sector of higher education increased from a mere 600 to more than 2 million students, and life expectancy has jumped from 47 years to 76 years.”
Algeria and the U.S. highly value each other as partners, as witnessed by the many visits between high-ranking officials and business leaders. Mr. Medelci says that there has been “significant progress in our relations with the U.S. for the last few years. Not only is Algeria a key U.S. ally against global terrorism, but also an undeniable economic partner – our country has recently become the second U.S. trade partner in Africa and in the Arab world. Plus, the long standing action undertaken by Algeria on the regional and international arenas, along with our constructive and stabilizing role regionally, has made our country a privileged partner of the United States.”
As close as the countries have grown, the Foreign Minister expresses his interest in developing new horizons since there is so much to be taken advantage of: “We think there is a promising potential to expand this relationship and grant it a more strategic dimension. This entails growing political collaboration among the high representatives of both countries to increase consensus and dialogue between our foreign affairs ministries.
“Also, our economic partnership, now almost entirely confined to the hydrocarbon sector, should be extended and diversified. It is very important to multiply our scientific and cultural exchanges to enhance mutual understanding.”