Algeria closes airspace to French navy, French military says, as row grows

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PARIS/ALGIERS, Oct 3 (Reuters) – Algeria has closed its airspace to French navy planes, France’s navy stated on Sunday, escalating the most important row between the nations in years.

A spokesperson for the French Armed Forces stated Algeria had closed its airspace to 2 flights, however that it could have “no major consequences” for operations within the Sahel area, south of Algeria.

Algeria’s authorities and navy weren’t instantly accessible for touch upon the closure of airspace.

On Saturday, Algeria recalled its ambassador to Paris citing feedback attributed to French President Emmanuel Macron, who was quoted in Le Monde as saying Algeria’s “politico-military system” had rewritten the historical past of its colonisation by France primarily based on “a hatred of France”.

The Algerian authorities didn’t specify which Macron remark had prompted the recall of its ambassador, but it surely accused him of interfering in Algerian inside affairs.

Macron was additionally quoted questioning whether or not there had been an Algerian nation earlier than French colonial rule. Algeria gained its independence from France in 1962 after a bloody navy wrestle.

A supply within the Algerian authorities stated the remark about Algeria’s existence as a nation had prompted specific anger.

Algeria’s ruling elite since independence has been largely drawn from veterans of its warfare of liberation from France.

“We understand Macron is on campaign and that he wants to get far-right support by all means, such as insulting Algeria’s history… This is unacceptable to us,” a former Algerian minister stated. Frances holds a presidential election subsequent April.

The row comes on prime of strains final week when France stated it could slash the variety of visas accessible to residents of Maghreb nations – drawing a proper protest from Algeria.

France has about 5,000 troops within the Sahel area, south of Algeria, combating alongside regional militaries in opposition to Islamist militant teams primarily in Mali and Niger.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta in Paris and Lamine Chikhi in Algiers; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by David Clarke and Hugh Lawson