A spokesman for the French General Staff announced today, Sunday, that the Algerian government has banned French military aircraft from flying over its territory.
French planes usually use Algerian airspace to enter and leave the Sahel region, where their forces are deployed under Operation Barkhane.
“When presenting plans for two flights this morning, we learned that the Algerians will close the airspace over their territory to French military aircraft,” Colonel Pascal Ianni told AFP, but stressed that this “would not affect operations or intelligence missions.”
The decision comes as a continuation of Algeria’s response to statements attributed to French President Emmanuel Macron, which were reported by Le Monde newspaper, and described as “offensive”. Algeria recalled its ambassador from Paris on Saturday for consultations.
Among Macron’s statements, he accused the Algerian authorities of “holding a grudge against France. He was quoted as saying that Algeria “was ruled by a political-military regime with an official history based not on truth but on hatred of France”.
He also questioned the existence of an Algerian nation before French colonialism entered the country in 1830, asking, “Was there an Algerian nation before French colonialism?”
“There was colonialism before the French colonization of Algeria,” Macron added, referring to the period of the Ottoman presence between 1514 and 1830.
“I am intrigued to see Turkey’s ability to make people completely forget the role it played in Algeria and the hegemony it exercised, explaining that the French are the only colonizers, something the Algerians believe,” he added.
Activists on Twitter launched a tag entitled (Expulsion of the French Ambassador, a popular demand), in which they demanded an escalation with France after compromising the memory of more than 5 million resistance fighters killed by French colonialism, according to a presidential statement on Saturday evening.
According to a statement by the Algerian presidency, carried by state television, Macron’s statements “represent an unacceptable insult to the memory of the 5 million and 630 thousand martyrs who sacrificed themselves through a brave resistance against French colonialism.”
“France’s countless colonial crimes are genocide against the Algerian people, and they are not recognized (by France), and they cannot be the subject of abusive maneuvers,” the statement added.
The statement pointed out that the statements attributed to the French president have not been officially denied. He explained that Algeria “categorically rejects interference in its internal affairs, as stated in these statements.”
For a while, political and diplomatic relations between Algeria and Paris have been tense and cold, accompanied by an economic drain on French companies that left the country and the Algerian authorities did not renew their contracts.
A few days ago, Algeria summoned its ambassador to Paris to protest against a French decision to reduce visas granted to its citizens.
And Paris decided to tighten the conditions for granting visas to citizens of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, in response to the three countries’ refusal to issue the necessary consular permits to return immigrants from their citizens.