The Arab Maghreb Union has a new secretary general, Tebboune’s “Maghreb G3” is stillborn

The Arab Maghreb Union has a new secretary general, Tebboune’s “Maghreb G3” is stillborn
The Arab Maghreb Union has a new secretary general, Tebboune’s “Maghreb G3” is stillborn

The Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) has a new secretary general, in the person of Tunisian diplomat Tarek Ben Salem (64), former Tunisian ambassador to Moscow, Bamako, Niamey and Ouagadougou. In an official statement, published on Tuesday, May 28, the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that, “in accordance with the provisions of the founding treaty of the Arab Maghreb Union of 1989, on the proposal of the President of the Republic Kaïs Saïed, and after the approval of all the leaders of the member states of the Union, it was decided the appointment of the Tunisian diplomat Tarek Ben Salem as secretary general of the Arab Maghreb Union for the next three years“.

This press release also specifies that Tarek Ben Salem will take up his functions at the headquarters of the general secretariat of the UMA in Rabat from June 1, that is to say from the end of this week. Some were waiting for a nomination to give substance to an institution covering the recent attempt to create a “three-member Maghrebi bloc”, supposed to supplant the UMA, and whose objective, sometimes veiled and sometimes openly declared by Algiers , is to exclude Morocco in particular, while Mauritania has firmly refused twice to join this trio which met in Algiers on March 2, 2024, then in Tunis on April 22.

Read also: By announcing that it wants to create a “Maghreb” without Morocco, the Algiers regime is pushing Libya towards the exit

Finally, even the Libyan side very insistently reiterated its attachment to the AMU. The Algerian maneuver ended short, transforming into a simple tripartite consultation framework on “the security of common borders, the fight against irregular migration, the launch of major joint investment projects including energy, cereal production or seawater desalination and climate challenges», as summarized in the press release sanctioning the Carthage summit of April 22.

Seen from Algiers, the appointment of the new secretary general of the AMU is perceived, through the local media, as a great diplomatic victory. A triumph! Against who? Against the former SG of the UMA, Taeïb Baccouche, described as “servant of Makhzen diplomacy“. The latter was regularly the subject of attacks of rare violence by the media of the Algiers regime. Just a year ago, he suffered the vindictive wrath of the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which accused him of having designated the Moroccan diplomat, Amina Selmane, as permanent representative of the AMU to the African Union. (AU), appointment which received the approval of Moussa Faki, president of the AU Commission.

Read also: Mini-summit in Tunisia to establish the impossibility of a Maghreb without Morocco

Basically, Algeria criticizes Taïeb Baccouche for his outspokenness, through which he had the courage to reveal that, since 2016, Algiers, in addition to being behind the blockages which hinder the proper functioning of Maghreb institutions, never deigned to pay a single dinar into the coffers of the AMU, while the four other countries regularly paid their contributions.

The attacks by the Algiers regime against Taïeb Baccouche, an experienced diplomat, transformed him, despite himself, into an obstacle to the smooth running of the UMA. We will see if, with the appointment of a successor, Algiers will finally cease its bashing of the UMA and pay their contributions.

As a reminder, according to the Marrakech Treaty, the secretary general of the UMA must be of Tunisian nationality, which makes Tarek Ben Salem the 5th secretary general of the UMA, after Mohamed Amamou (1991-2002), Habib Boulares ( 2002-2006), Habib Ben Yahia (2006-2016) and Taïeb Baccouche, who tacitly extended his mandate by two years while awaiting the appointment of his replacement. Since the Tunis summit in 1994, and following the attack instigated by mainly Algerian terrorists against the Atlas Asni hotel in Marrakech, no UMA summit has been held.

Read also: Tebboune harasses on the phone the Mauritanian president who refuses to join a Maghreb bloc without Morocco

A new lease of life has now been given to the UMA, if only because the five heads of state have agreed on the appointment of a new secretary general. A symbolic gesture of great significance which has the merit of demonstrating that there cannot exist, in North Africa, any other regional alternative than the AMU. This explains why at the recent Carthage summit, no announcement, due to lack of agreement between the three parties, was made concerning the creation or outline of the contours of a new Maghreb bloc aimed at supplanting the ‘UMA. Which did not prevent the Algerian press agency (APS) from announcing on April 29 that a “G3 was born in Carthage” and “the Maghreb of action succeeds the Maghreb of slogans”, thus decreeing that “the clinical death of the AMU was recorded” and “the UMA no longer exists on the ground» for 30 years… because of Morocco.

However, the approach taken by the president of the Libyan Presidential Council, Mohamed Younès El Menfi, has clearly shown that the attempt to create a three-member Maghreb bloc is nothing more than a flash in the pan. By dispatching two envoys to Morocco and Mauritania, the day after the Tunis summit, the head of the Tripoli executive sent an unequivocal message that the AMU must be revitalized and not replaced.

With the appointment of a new SG of the UMA, there are hopes, even minimal, of a revival of this institution. This recovery depends on the commitment of the five member states for operational action by the AMU, with a view to responding to the challenges of the people of the Maghreb.



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