What is Macron after in Algeria? - SELÇUK TÜRKYILMAZ

What is Macron after in Algeria?

French President Emmanuel Macron’s latest visit to Algeria attracted worldwide attention. One of the most striking details of this trip was the Algerian youth's protest of Macron in the city of Oran. Serious tensions between Algeria and France since October 2021 became even more visible now. The Algerian administration, Algerian youth, French media, Macron, and Türkiye each stand as a side in the events. Articles published particularly in French media against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan show that he and Türkiye stand out as one side. It is truly important that the sides’ position is understood clearly. 

 

Surely Algerian youth’s demonstration was a reaction to France’s almost three-decade-long colonial rule in Algeria, but it was Macron again who provoked in October 2021 the current rage. The French president’s accusatory statements in Le Monde newspaper, targeting Algeria, caused tensions between the two countries. The Le Monde article stated the Algerian administration is a military one, and as a result, history is almost being rewritten. The article further claims that this history “was built upon anti-France sentiments.” The following statements made in this context triggered harsh reactions last October: “Algeria's establishment as a nation is a phenomenon that needs to be followed. Was there ever an Algerian nation prior to the French colonization?” 

 

In this outburst, Macron had blamed Türkiye for its anti-France position in Algeria. Being protested today in a city like Oran, which is central to France’s colonialist hegemony in Algeria, drove Macron to make accusations right and left. Of course, Macron was wrong to accuse Türkiye. Besides this, he was patronizing when he said there was no national awareness in Algeria prior to France’s colonial sovereignty in the country. However, this attitude was not completely understood in Türkiye – why he blamed Türkiye was not understood either. 

 

The French colony administration believed they took civilization to Algeria in the 19th and 20th centuries. This was their ideological position. Hence, the colony administration in Algerian Arabic is referred to as “musta’amara.” The fact that the term means protectorate is interesting. France, as well as all colonialist countries, had adopted in the 19th century the claim that they are taking civilization to their colonies as the colonialist ideology. The terms colonialism and colony signify a new land or the establishment of a new community over that piece of land. Thus, Macron is saying that the French determined Algeria’s borders and the identity of its inhabitants. This is quite vague in Turkish. But why are Algerian youth protesting this? What do the demonstrations on Oran’s streets signify? 

 Algerian youth’s demonstrations against Macron in a highly symbolic city like Oran present opposition to France’s approaches. They are reacting against Macron’s antics that France established the Algerian nation, with reference to the Algerian identity and the Algerian War of Independence. This shows that the effects of the 1954-1966 independence war, which marked the second half of the 20th century, are ongoing. It seems this war was not discussed in all aspects. The ideology movements in the Islamic world cannot be explained by ignoring the Algerian War of Independence. Algerian youth seem to be aware of this as well. It is no coincidence that the origin of tensions with Macron dates back about half a century. 

 France’s accusation of Türkiye in the Algeria context is telling. President Erdogan’s current influence in all of France’s former colonies, and the fact that all anti-France sentiment is inspired by Türkiye is a development followed by almost all relevant centers. English-language publications’ mention of Erdogan’s anti-colonialist struggle shows how much interest the developments raised. These developments need to be discussed in Türkiye to the same extent. The end of the almost five-century-long Western sovereignty is a matter closely followed by the whole world. Yet, Macron continues to insist that France left Algeria unattended and that this is why it is being targeted. He accuses, in this context, “political Islamist” activists, complaining about anti-France sentiment. Claiming that Türkiye, Russia, and China have neo-colonial and imperialist agendas, Macron says these countries have anti-France networks. He further adds that these countries are united in their hostility towards France. 

 It is a serious loss that intellectual groups are discussing these matters in the legal context. 

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