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Algeria bars French planes from its airspace

October 3, 2021

French armed forces have reported that flights over Algerian airspace have been cancelled. On Saturday Algeria recalled its diplomat in Paris over comments Emmanuel Macron made.

French military transport planes on the tarmac in Orleans, France
France's armed forces have confirmed that planned flights over Algeria have been cancelled as diplomatic spat worsensImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/R.Nicolas-Nelson

A diplomatic spat between Algeria and France has deepened further, with Algiers making the decision to bar French military aircraft from flying in its airspace.

The move comes after Algeria recalled its ambassador to Paris over comments President Emmanuel Macron reportedly made about the former colony.

France's decision to cut the amount of visa's issued to countries in the Maghreb has also fuelled discord between the two countries.

Air passage closed to French aircraft

A spokesperson for the French Armed Forces confirmed that planned flights assisting operations in the Sahel region of western Africa had been refused permission of passage.

"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," an army spokesman, Colonel Pascal Ianni, told news agency AFP.

France is part of military operations targeting jihadist insurgents in the region and frequently flies over Algerian airspace to support ground forces.

France has around 5,000 troops taking part in Operation Barkhane, a multi-national task force that is battling Islamist insurgents in Mali and Niger. In June France announced it would be wrapping up its military operations in early 2022.

What has led to this?

Both French and Algerian media have reported that Macron, in an address to Algerian descendants of those who had fought int the Algerian war that took place between 1954 and 1962, had said that Algeria's "politico-military system" had given an alternate version of history based on "a hatred of France."

Macron also reportedly questioned whether there had been an Algerian nation before French colonial rule.

Its unclear which of the comments angered Algerian leadership, but on Saturday Algiers recalled its envoy to France, accusing Macron of interfering in Algerian internal affairs.

Paris has also made a decision to substantially reduce the number of visas issued to Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. This has also enflamed tensions between the two countries.

kb/aw (AFP, Reuters)