Algeria is one of the few countries that, despite being a majority Sunni Arab country, has been friendly towards mostly Shia Muslim Iran. Although enjoying a cordial relationship, at times relations between two countries have been strained, such as during the Algerian Civil War in the 1990s, or with the current situation of the Arab world towards Iran. Nonetheless, Algeria retains close and friendly ties with Iran due to its neutrality at the expense of Saudi Arabia.
The Rustamid dynasty, a famous Ibadi Islamic dynasty in Algeria, was of Persian origin.
After the independence of Algeria, then-Pahlavi Iran soon established relations with Algeria, but due to its remoteness and lack of interests, Algeria and Iran remained somewhat modest relations.
Algerian Civil War
During the war, Algeria accused Iran, alongside Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Sudan and Libya for meddling in the conflict and supporting the hardcore Armed Islamic Group of Algeria which killed nearly 200.000 people. Iran was found to have used Sudan as a transit supporting rebels and secretly supported by Sudan.
Chadli Bendjedid, then-President of Algeria, believed that Algeria could not become the other Iran, and the Islamists, supported by both Iran and Saudi Arabia, were suppressed. This low-point relations pushed Algeria to finally cede their mission of representing Iran's interests in the United States in response to Iran's supports to GIA. Pakistan later replaced Algeria as representative of Iran's interests.
Since the end of the civil war, Algeria and Iran re-approached the relationship in 2000 by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Iranian counterpart Mohammad Khatami, but there has been a strong mistrust alongside Algerian elites and majority Algerian population upon Iranian political desires, a legacy left behind because of Iran's involvement in the Algerian Civil War. Algeria still has some limits towards Iran's political desires in the country.
Nonetheless, in spite of historical concerns and mistrusts, Algeria and Iran still share some similar views. Algeria and Iran both opposed arming to the opposition groups in Syria amidst the Syrian Civil War or the same current Yemeni Civil War although limited in level terms as Iran directly involved in these wars while Algeria called for total mediations and ceasefires. Algeria is one of few Arab nations that is willing to cooperate with Iran.
Algeria keeps a strong cultural relationship with Iran, a legacy of its ensure neutrality. Economic tie between two nations is also growing expensively and positively, paves way for deeper tie between two nations.
- "Sudan Linked To Rebellion In Algeria". The New York Times. December 24, 1994.
- "The Limits of the Improbable Iran-Algeria Partnership".
- "Dangerous liaisons: Algeria and Iran's unlikely partnership".
- "Algeria determined to boost cultural ties with Iran".
- "Iran's president urges deeper Algeria trade ties". Reuters. 27 August 2007.