Pedro Sánchez was in the Congreso to explain the situation with Algeria. / EFE

Algeria breaks off relations with Spain for defending Western Sahara plan

The treaty of friendship between the two countries was dropped after the Spanish government's recent U-turn on the Western Sahara autonomy

MIGUEL ÁNGEL ALFONSO MADRID.

On Wednesday prime minister Pedro Sánchez defended his government's recent U-turn on the autonomy of the Western Sahara to the Spanish parliament, and the president of Algeria promptly suspended the treaty of friendship between the two countries which has been in force since 2002, saying Spain's support for Morocco's plan is "unjustifiable".

This appears to have been the final straw for Abdelmadjid Tebboune as there has been tension between Algeria and Spain since March, when Morocco's Royal Palace published part of a letter in which Sánchez expressed support for the Moroccan proposal.

The rupture could have economic consequences, as in 2019 Spain exported 2.7 billion euros of goods to Algeria, but the effect on energy supplies is also a concern: before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Algeria supplied 40 per cent of Spain's gas and although the amount has now dropped to 23.4 per cent, it is still significant.

Tebboune firmly lays the blame at Sánchez's door, but he is standing firm. So, there is now a diplomatic stand-off, and one which may be difficult to resolve.