Algeria–United States relations
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Algeria – United States relations are the international relations between the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria and the United States of America. In July 2001, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika became the first Algerian President to visit the White House since 1985. This visit, followed by a second meeting in November 2001, a meeting in New York in September 2003, and President Bouteflika's participation at the June 2004 G8 Sea Island Summit, is indicative of the growing relationship between the United States and Algeria. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, contacts in key areas of mutual concern, including law enforcement and counter-terrorism cooperation, have intensified. Algeria publicly condemned the terrorist attacks on the United States and has been strongly supportive of the international war against terrorism. The United States and Algeria consult closely on key international and regional issues. The pace and scope of senior-level visits has accelerated. In April 2006, then-Foreign Minister Bedjaoui met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
In August 2005, then-Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Senator Richard G. Lugar, led a Presidential Mission to Algeria and Morocco to oversee the release of the remaining 404 Moroccan prisoners of war held by the Polisario Front in Algeria. Their release removed a longstanding bilateral obstacle between Algeria and Morocco.
The official U.S. presence in Algeria is expanding following over a decade of limited staffing, reflecting the general improvement in the security environment. During the past three years, the U.S. Embassy has moved toward more normal operations and now provides most embassy services to the American and Algerian communities.
Algeria and the United States share a long history of friendly ties. The oldest permanent settlement established by Europeans in the United States (in Florida, founded in 1563), was named after another great figure of the Algerian history: Saint Augustine. Santa Monica was named after the mother of Saint Augustine. The city Elkader in Iowa which was named after him is the only town in the United States named after an Arab.
European maritime powers paid the tribute demanded by the rulers of the privateering states of North Africa (Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli) to prevent attacks on their shipping by corsairs. No longer covered by British tribute payments after the American Revolution, United States merchant ships were seized and sailors enslaved in the years that followed independence. In 1794 the United States Congress appropriated funds for the construction of warships to counter the privateering threat in the Mediterranean. Despite the naval preparations, the United States concluded a treaty with the dey of Algiers in 1797, guaranteeing payment of tribute amounting to US$10 million over a twelve-year period in return for a promise that Algerian corsairs would not molest United States shipping. Payments in ransom and tribute to the privateering states amounted to 20 percent of United States government annual revenues in 1800.
Also in September 5, 1795, when the two countries signed the Treaty of Amity and Peace, a few years after the official recognition of the independence of the young American Republic by the State of Algeria (1783). Algeria was among the first countries that recognized the independence of the United States.
The Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century diverted the attention of the maritime powers from suppressing what they derogatorily called piracy. But when peace was restored to Europe in 1815, Algiers found itself at war with Spain, the Netherlands, Prussia, Denmark, Russia, and Naples. In March of that year, the United States Congress authorized naval action against the Barbary States, the then-independent Muslim states of Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. Commodore Stephen Decatur was dispatched with a squadron of ten warships to ensure the safety of United States shipping in the Mediterranean and to force an end to the payment of tribute. After capturing several corsairs and their crews, Decatur sailed into the harbor of Algiers, threatened the city with his guns, and concluded a favorable treaty in which the dey agreed to discontinue demands for tribute, pay reparations for damage to United States property, release United States prisoners without ransom, and prohibit further interference with United States trade by Algerian corsairs. No sooner had Decatur set off for Tunis to enforce a similar agreement than the dey repudiated the treaty. The next year, an Anglo-Dutch fleet, commanded by British admiral Viscount Exmouth, delivered a punishing, nine-hour bombardment of Algiers. The attack immobilized many of the dey's corsairs and obtained from him a second treaty that reaffirmed the conditions imposed by Decatur. In addition, the dey agreed to end the practice of enslaving Christians. In 1860 in Damascus, the Algerian resistance leader El Emir Abdelkader saved from pogroms the lives of ten thousand Christians including the staff of the American consulate. President Lincoln honored El Emir Abdelkader as a great humanitarian for this achievement.
More recently, Senator John F. Kennedy spoke in support of Algeria's independence when the country was under French colonialism and Algeria lent the full force of its diplomacy and political influence to secure the freedom of 52 Americans held hostage by Iran in 1979. On January 2, 1981 the hostages were freed following an Algerian mediation hailed by the American authorities. When the United States came under attack in September 2001, Algeria was one of the first countries to offer its support to the US and continued to play a key role in the struggle against terrorism. It has been working since then very closely with the United States to eliminate the scourge of transnational terrorism. President Bouteflika welcomed President Barack Obama's election and said he would be glad to work with him to further cooperation between the two countries. The intensity of the cooperation between Algeria and the United States is illustrated by the number and frequency of senior-level visits made by civilian and military officials of both countries. Relations between Algeria and the United States have entered a new, dynamic and very promising phase and are stronger than they have ever been. While characterized by close collaboration on regional and international issues of mutual interest, ties between both countries are also defined by the significance and level of their cooperation in the economic area. The number of US corporations already active or exploring business ventures in Algeria has increased significantly over the past few years, reflecting growing confidence in the Algerian market and institutions.Numerous senior officers of the Algerian Army, including its Chief of Staff and the Secretary General of the Ministry of Defense (Algeria), have made official visits in the United States. Algeria has hosted US Navy and Coast Guard visits and took part with the United States in NATO joint naval exercises.The increasing level of cooperation and exchanges between Algeria and the United States has generated a number of bilateral agreements in numerous areas, including the Agreement on Science and Technology Cooperation, signed in January 2006. An agreement was concluded recently between the Government of Algeria and the Government of the United States, entering into force on November 1, 2009, pursuant to which the maximum validity for several categories of visas granted to Algerian citizens coming to the United States was extended to 24 months. A mutual legal assistance treaty and a Customs Cooperation Agreement will also be signed soon.
In 2006, U.S. direct investment in Algeria totaled $5.3 billion, mostly in the petroleum sector, which U.S. companies dominate. American companies also are active in the banking and finance, services, pharmaceuticals, medical facilities, telecommunications, aviation, seawater desalination, energy production, and information technology sectors. Algeria is the United States' 3rd-largest market in the Middle East/North African region. U.S. exports to Algeria totaled $1.2 billion in 2005, an increase of more than 50% since 2003. U.S. imports from Algeria grew from $4.7 billion in 2002 to $10.8 billion in 2005, primarily in oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG). In March 2004, President Bush designated Algeria a beneficiary country for duty-free treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).
In July 2001, the United States and Algeria signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, which established common principles on which the economic relationship is founded and forms a platform for negotiating a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) and a free-trade agreement (FTA). The two governments meet on an ongoing basis to discuss trade and investment policies and opportunities to enhance the economic relationship. Within the framework of the U.S.-North African Economic Partnership (USNAEP), the United States provided about $1 million in technical assistance to Algeria in 2003. This program supported and encouraged Algeria's economic reform program and included support for World Trade Organization accession negotiations, debt management, and improving the investment climate. In 2003, USNAEP programs were rolled over into Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) activities, which provide funding for political and economic development programs in Algeria.
Cooperation between the Algerian and U.S. militaries continues to grow. Exchanges between both sides are frequent, and Algeria has hosted senior U.S. military officials. In May 2005, the United States and Algeria conducted their first formal joint military dialogue in Washington, DC; the second joint military dialogue took place in Algiers in November 2006. The NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe and Commander, U.S. European Command, General James L. Jones visited Algeria in June and August 2005, and then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited Algeria in February 2006. The United States and Algeria have also conducted bilateral naval and Special Forces exercises, and Algeria has hosted U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ship visits. In addition, the United States has a modest International Military Education and Training (IMET) Program ($824,000 in FY 2006) for training Algerian military personnel in the United States, and Algeria participates in the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP).
Education and culture
The first U.S.A and Algerian collaboration in the education field was establishing the institute of electrical engineering and Electronics ( INELEC ) the only institute in North Africa that uses an Anglo-saxone way of teaching. The United States has implemented modest university linkages programs and has placed two English-Language Fellows, the first since 1993, with the Ministry of Education to assist in the development of English as a Second Language (ESL) courses at the Ben Aknoune Training Center. In 2006, Algeria was again the recipient of a grant under the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation. That fund provided a grant of $106,110 to restore the El Pacha Mosque in Oran. Algeria also received an $80,000 grant to fund microscholarships to design and implement an American English-language program for Algerian high school students in four major cities.
Initial funding through the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) has been allocated to support the work of Algeria's developing civil society through programming that provides training to journalists, businesspersons, legislators, Internet regulators, and the heads of leading nongovernmental organizations. Additional funding through the U.S. Department of State's Human Rights and Democracy Fund will assist civil society groups focusing on the issues of the disappeared, and Islam and democracy.
Principal U.S. officials
- Ambassador – David D. Pearce
- Deputy Chief of Mission – Thomas F. Daughton
- Political/Economic Chief – Mark Schapiro
- Economic/Commercial Officer – Jeffrey Mazur
- Foreign Commercial Service Officer (resident in Casablanca) – Rick Ortiz
- Foreign Agriculture Service Officer (resident in Rabat) – Mike Fay
- Consular Officer – Joshua Fischell
- Management Officer – Kristi Morton-Lahmar
- Public Affairs Officer – Rafik Mansour
- Defense Attaché – Col. Steven Drago, USAF
- Office of Security Cooperation – Maj Daniel Phillips, USAF
- Regional Security Officer – Melissa Foynes
This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Department of State (Background Notes). This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.
- Embassy of Algeria to the United States of America.Tuesday May 25. 2010 (accessed May 26, 2010), by Abdallah Baali
- (Fox News)
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