Despite its membership and founding role in the OAU, Algeria remains a society much more closely affiliated with its Arab neighbors and counterparts than with the African countries to the south. In many countries, economic crisis and dependency on foreign aid have diminished the prospects of liberation and movements and hence also reduced the relevance of Algeria's liberation experience for those nations. Algeria has, however, resolved its remaining border conflicts with Mali, Niger, and Mauritania and generally maintains harmonious relations with its southern counterparts. Economic linkages remain fairly limited in the 1990s, constituting less than 1 percent of Algeria's total trade balance, although a new transnational highway running across the Sahara is expected to increase trade with sub-Saharan Africa.
In the early postindependence years, Algeria committed itself to the fight against colonialism and national suppression in sub-Saharan Africa. Its commitment was reflected in its support for the revolutionary movements in Zimbabwe, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Mozambique, and Namibia and in its condemnation of South Africa. Algeria has not officially retreated from its earlier ideological affinity for the revolutionary movements in Africa, but its role has become that of mentor rather than revolutionary front-runner. As Algeria has found its influence in the rest of Africa greatly reduced, its economic interests, ideological affiliation, and identification have fallen more in line with the Maghrib, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.
Algeria has consistently reaffirmed its commitment to the OAU, although its interests in this regional organization have frequently been motivated more by tactical considerations than ideological affinity. Algeria has worked toward strengthening the structure and mediating capacities of the OAU, largely hoping to use the organization to further its own views on the issue of self-determination for the Western Sahara.
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