Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

US Efforts to Impose Sanctions on Algeria Stir Debate

US Efforts to Impose Sanctions on Algeria Stir Debate

Monday, 31 October, 2022 - 09:15
US Ambassador to Algeria Elizabeth Moore Aubin. (US Embassy in Algeria)

US Ambassador to Algeria Elizabeth Moore Aubin commented Sunday on a request presented last month by several US Congressmen demanding that Washington sanction Algiers for extensively trading arms with Russia, saying that part of her diplomatic job is to explain US law to Algerian officials.

“Algeria’s officials will then make sovereign decisions for this country,” she stressed in an interview with Interlignes.

Asked whether sanctions against Algeria were possible, Moore Aubin said: “I can’t answer a hypothetical question.”

This is the first time a US government official comments on the request by 27 Congressmen last month to impose sanctions on Algeria for concluding arms deals with Russia.

Asked whether Washington was ready to sell arms to Algeria, Moore Aubin replied that the US government enjoys a robust commercial relationship with Algeria that includes direct commercial sales to Algeria’s military.

She added that her country is always open to discuss with Algeria other means of purchasing arms, including foreign military sales.

Late last month, a number of US Congressmen, led by Republican Lisa McClain, addressed a letter to Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, voicing their concerns over the recent reports over the ever-growing ties between Russia and Algeria.

The letter noted military arms deals struck between Russia and Algeria, stressing that last year alone, Algiers finalized an arms purchase with Moscow that totaled over $7 billion and it agreed to purchase advanced Russian fighter aircraft, including Sukhoi 57.

The co-signers of the letter stressed that this military transfer has made Algeria the third largest recipient of Russian arms in the world.

They called for implementing the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) that Congress passed in 2017.

“This legislation directs the US President to impose sanctions on individuals who knowingly, engages in a significant transaction with a person that is part of, or operates for or on behalf of, the defense or intelligence sectors of the Russian government,” the co-signers wrote in their letter.

They added that the recent Algeria-Russia arms purchase would clearly be categorized as “a significant transaction” under CAATSA, adding that no sanctions have been drafted by the State Department against Algeria.

The Algerian government has not commented on the Congressmen’s request.

However, the leftist Workers’ Party deemed the demand as a violation of Algeria’s sovereignty.

First secretary of the Front of Socialist Forces (FFS) Youcef Aouchiche called on Algerian authorities to show the utmost decree of responsibility and to agree on a collective response to the request.

Editor Picks