The Significance of Raisi’s Visit to Algeria


Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited Algeria, marking the first official trip by an Iranian president to the country in 14 years. Raisi visited Algiers to attend the 7th Summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) and during his visit, he met Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebbounne and signed several bilateral agreements. During their meetings, both leaders affirmed their commitment to enhancing bilateral relations. The visit reflects the Iranian government’s efforts to strengthen ties with African countries in the face of economic sanctions and challenges concerning Iran’s international trade. Iran’s outreach to Africa aims to capitalize on economic prospects, particularly in energy and infrastructure by diversifying partnerships and investment opportunities. Additionally, by bolstering its political influence in Africa, Iran seeks regional support to counter Western dominance.

The 7th GECF Summit focused on the theme “Natural Gas for a Secure and Sustainable Future,” underscoring its significance in advancing economic development. During the summit, natural gas was highlighted as an affordable, reliable and sustainable energy resource crucial for ensuring energy security. The delegations participated in discussions covering geopolitical, economic and natural gas market conditions, reaffirming their commitment to advocating for natural gas as a dependable energy source and the leaders endorsed the Algiers Declaration.

On the sidelines of the summit, Algeria and Iran signed bilateral cooperation agreements, covering energy, mining, agriculture, tourism and infrastructure. Algeria’s attempts to engage closely with Iran, along with strengthened relations with Russia and China, have strained Algeria’s ties with the United States. Algeria and Iran have for a long time maintained limited trade relations, however, economic ties between both countries have grown gradually. As per reports, Iran’s non-oil exports to Algeria amounted to $1.1 million from March to June 2023, marking a 109% rise from the previous year. Due to their substantial gas reserves, Iran and Algeria have the capacity for collaboration across multiple sectors, notably in the energy, industrial and petrochemical sectors. In recent years, both countries have also directed efforts toward creating a conducive business environment and promoting investment and tourism opportunities. During a visit by Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Altaf to Tehran in July 2023, Iran and Algeria agreed to ease visa regulations and eventually eliminate visa requirements for all travelers, thereby enhancing people-to-people connections.

The GECF Summit is significant, given Europe’s keen interest in Algerian gas following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Despite being major gas producers, Iran and Algeria face challenges in meeting demand due to infrastructural and economic limitations. Iran aims to increase its gas output significantly in the coming years, while US sanctions on Iran’s energy sector have impeded its ability to engage in energy deals with other countries. Iran faces challenges in meeting its gas export obligations, leading to reduced purchases from significant clients. This contrasts sharply with other leading gas-exporting countries, which are striving to enhance their LNG export capacities to meet growing global demand, highlighting Iran’s difficulty in maintaining its foothold in the global gas market.

Algeria and Iran share similar positions on regional matters, including their support for the Syrian regime and the Polisario Front in Western Sahara. Both countries have also criticized US support to Israel amid the war in Gaza and have reiterated their unwavering support for the Palestinian cause. Their alignment on the issue of Palestine forms a cornerstone of their respective foreign policies.

Algeria and Iran have both expressed opposition to the Abraham Accords. The US decision to recognize Western Sahara as part of Morocco in exchange for Rabat’s agreement to sign the Abraham Accords has led to tensions between the United States and Algeria. This decision marks a departure from the longstanding US policy of supporting UN-led efforts for a negotiated resolution of the Western Sahara conflict. However, the United States has encouraged Algeria to increase gas exports to Europe as an alternative to Russian gas, which could positively impact US-Algerian relations despite differences over matters like Western Sahara and relations with Russia. Moreover, despite the divergences, Algeria intends to strengthen economic ties with US companies and attract investments through diversifying partnerships and facilitating investment laws. Recent meetings between Algerian and US officials aim to alleviate tensions exacerbated by US political campaigns seeking punitive measures against Algeria for its close defense ties with Russia.

Iranian President Raisi’s recent visit to Algeria in the current context represents a major development in their bilateral relations, highlighting their shared commitment to bolstering economic ties and diplomatic collaboration, exemplified by the signing of various cooperation agreements, notably in the energy sector. However, these developments also present challenges, especially concerning Algeria’s relationship with the West which remains extremely important for Algeria. The Algerian government continues to pursue avenues to increase gas exports, particularly in light of Europe’s interest in diversifying its energy sources. Meanwhile Algeria and Iran’s converging positions on regional issues, especially the support for the Palestinian cause, have catalyzed shared interests between both countries amid the Gaza war.

Editorial Team