With the war in Eastern Europe still raging, nearly a year later it’s clear there have been some winners and losers. Ukraine, even though the fighting is not over, has had its infrastructure decimated and seen civilians flee – but has the West on its side. And while Russia may have the upper hand, it certainly will not emerge unscathed from the bloodbath. Time will tell which of the two sides will be victorious.
Reliance on Algeria, however, a close partner and recipient of weapons from Russia, as a source of energy is a controversial issue. The West should consider the long-term consequences of relying too heavily on a single supplier, especially one that is aligned with Russia. Algeria is a major producer of natural gas and petroleum, and as a result, it is a major energy supplier to Europe and the United States. However, there are several reasons why the West should think twice about relying on Algeria as a source of energy.
Firstly, Algeria’s political and economic stability is uncertain. The country has a long history of political and social instability, and there are ongoing concerns about corruption and human rights abuses. This creates a risk that energy supplies could be disrupted, either through political unrest or economic sanctions.
Secondly, relying on a single supplier creates a vulnerability to price spikes and supply disruptions. If Algeria were to experience a sudden decrease in production or a significant increase in demand, the impact on global energy markets would be significant. This would likely lead to price spikes, which could have a detrimental effect on the economies of countries that rely heavily on Algerian energy.
Yet perhaps those who have benefited the most are oil-producing states. Upon Russia’s invasion, the prices of oil and gas skyrocketed and remained high for a majority of 2022. Saudi Arabia’s Aramco is set to double profits between 2021 and 2022, and it’s far from the only country to benefit. Algeria, a major producer of oil and gas, has positioned itself to fill the void Russia left in Europe’s gas supply. Algiers’s earnings on its gas supplies have risen 150 percent since 2020, positioning itself as a playmaker in the international arena on its new-found state coffers.
Europe, with a lack of a clear backup after its messy breakup with Moscow, is increasingly depending on Algeria for energy supplies. Algeria is the third biggest gas supplier to Europe outside of Moscow and Norway and accounts for a quarter of gas imports in Italy and Spain, giving the country significant leverage over Europe, who is desperate for stable energy prices. With its reserves flush with oil and gas, its strategic geographical location, and ability to export quickly, Algeria can play a large role and become a key ally of the West.
The problem with that is that Algeria has no interest in doing so. Algeria has maintained strong ties with Russia for decades, as their military is essentially built on Russian-made equipment. Despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Algeria still hosted Russian officials in May 2022 and continues to be friendly with Putin. Algiers is also expanding partnerships with Beijing, it’s main source of imports. The two have expanded cooperation and Algeria is eager to become part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. It seems they haven’t heard that massive Chinese projects around the globe have literally been crumbling.
One could argue that these moves are natural progressions for Algeria. Afterall, the ties between Algiers and Moscow and Beijing have long been established before the war in Ukraine and China became a rising threat to the West. Yet Algeria’s attempt to join BRICS show where it truly lies in world alignment. Joining BRICS would make Algeria more aligned with China and Russia than ever, ditching the West in favor of its foes
But besides its international standing, Algeria has many domestic problems that should give the West second thoughts about engaging. It has continuously cracked down on journalists that are critical of the government. It shut down the last free radio station, stifling dissent and it itself descends into further authoritarianism. Freedom House gives it a clear rating of “Not Free” due to crackdowns on civil liberties and an inherently unfair political process.
Next door, Algeria has been fuming at Morocco over the Western Sahara, to which Morocco claims sovereignty. Algeria has backed the Polisario Front, who has ties to Iran and other extremist groups in the region. Polisario has recently been found to have embezzled funds, laundered money, and stolen foreign aid from needy Sahrawi refugees. As Polisario’smain backer, Algeria shows yet again that it is not with the United States and acting against Western interests in the region.
All these reasons point to Algeria being an untrustworthy actor. Its values are not in sync with the United States and Europe. Its moves in foreign policy abroad and crackdown on its citizens show that not only is it unstable, but also that Algiers cannot be relied upon. If that wasn’t enough, it seems as if its heyday may be coming to an end. Its’ gas exports are falling and it may not be able to fulfill its promises. Once it becomes clear to the West cannot make good on its promises in energy, it will be apparent to everyone that Algeria is not a country we can trust.
Finally, it is important to consider the environmental impact of relying on fossil fuels. Algeria’s energy sector is largely dependent on non-renewable resources, and the extraction and transportation of these resources can have a significant impact on the environment. The West should consider alternative sources of energy, such as renewables, that have a lower impact on the environment and are less reliant on a single supplier.
In conclusion, while Algeria is an important source of energy for the West, it is crucial to consider the long-term consequences of relying too heavily on this supplier. The West should consider alternative sources of energy and ensure that it is not vulnerable to political and economic instability, price spikes, and environmental impact – and not aligning with actors who do not share Western interests and values.