While Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salmane chose to extend his two-day visit to Algeria, he spent only a few hours in Tunisia and Mauritania, the last leg of his trip abroad before his arrival this Sunday at the international airport Houari Boumediene of Alger.
The prolongation of Bin Salmane’s visit to Algeria and the absence of a visit by the latter to the Kingdom of Morocco, traditional ally of Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf Kingdoms and Emirates, have given rise to many questions. which surprised many observers.
Mindful of the importance that the Saudi side attaches to this visit to Algeria, Crown Prince Bin Salmane arrived in Alger escorting from a high-level official delegation composed of members of the government, businessmen and important personalities.
This visit, according to the presidential statement, aims at “consolidating the privileged relations between the two countries and the two brother peoples, and will give a new impetus to the bilateral cooperation and the realization of projects of partnership and investment and will open new horizons for businessmen to increase the volume of trade and develop the economic partnership between the two countries”.
However, this visit hides in turn geopolitical contours, which predict the existence of an effervescence in certain areas of the region, against a backdrop of a decline in the heat of the relationship that has so far characterized the axis Rabat -Riyad.
The most striking sign may be the silence that has characterized Morocco’s position on the recent crisis that has shaken Saudi Arabia following the horrific assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul (Turkey).
Morocco did not express support for this nagging issue at a time when it was particularly needed as Saudi Arabia was the target of a diplomatic and media storm because of the Khashoggi affair, contrary to support to Riyadh adopted by countries deemed close to Saudi Arabia, such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.
The close relations between Rabat and Riyadh have always been at an indisputable level.
In this context, Saudi Arabia has not failed in the recent past to finance arms transactions concluded by Morocco with Western manufacturers, particularly with France (for the delivery of Rafale aircraft), for example, while relations between Algeria and Saudi Arabia have been eroded by many differences, including the right approach to adopt on many regional and international issues.
Why this sudden fracture between Rabat and Riyadh? What does the Saudi Crown Prince mean by these visits to all Arab countries allied to his country (the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt) and even those with second-class relations with Riyadh (Algeria, Tunisia and Mauritania) without going to Morocco during the first trip abroad?
Has Saudi Arabia changed its strategy in the Maghreb, so that Morocco has been excluded from the circle of close partners and what is the background of this shifting strategy?
Has Algeria become Saudi Arabia’s first partner in the region, at least because of the nature and quality of the delegation that accompanies the Saudi Crown Prince during his visit to Algeria?
What is the background of the current coldness of relations between Riyadh and Morocco? Does this have anything to do with the leadership of the Government led by Moroccan Islamists? What can Algeria gain from the silent tension that characterizes relations between Morocco and Saudi Arabia?
Will Bin Salmane’s visit lead to a bold decision by Saudi Arabia to reduce its oil production, which has already led to the collapse of oil prices on the international market despite the US President’s refusal to do so? respect.
In any case, the results of Bin Salmane’s visit will surely provide answers to these and other questions.