Algeria blocks French military planes amid diplomatic row
Algeria has banned French military planes from entering its airspace, the French army says, as tensions escalate over a visa row and critical comments from French President Emmanuel Macron.
“This morning when we filed flight plans for two planes, we learned that the Algerians had stopped flights over their territory by French military planes,” said Colonel Pascal Ianni, a spokesman for the French Army, on Sunday.
French military planes regularly use Algerian airspace to reach the Sahelo-Saharan strip in western Africa where the French troops are deployed purportedly to help a fight against Takfiri terrorists as part of the ongoing seven-years-long Operation Barkhane.
The development came a day after Algeria’s Foreign Ministry recalled its ambassador from Paris for consultations, citing “inadmissible interference” in domestic affairs of the North African country.
Macron had reportedly told descendants of figures in Algeria's war for independence that the country was ruled by a “political-military system” that had “totally re-written” its history.
“You can see that the Algerian system is tired, it has been weakened by the Hirak,” he added, referring to the pro-democracy movement that ultimately ousted Bouteflika in 2019 after two decades at the helm.
A source in the Algerian government said the comment about Algeria's existence as a nation had caused particular anger.
On Thursday, the Algerian government also said that a day earlier, its Foreign Ministry had summoned French Ambassador Francois Gouyette to protest France’s decision made the previous week to sharply reduce the number of visas granted to Algerian nationals.
France killed millions of Algerians and committed war crimes during its colonial rule of the North African nation from 1830 to 1962.
In May 1830, France invaded Algeria under the pretext of receiving seven million francs. Algerian fighters strongly resisted the attack, but due to the superiority of the French equipment, the war was prolonged and French troops committed murder, rape, torture and other crimes against Algerians.
According to some estimates, the struggle for independence from France left over five and a half million Algerians dead, which amounted to about half of the country’s population at that time.