Skip to main content

Political upheaval upends Algeria lobbying

Algeria ramped up its Washington lobbying last year to help make its case regarding the disputed Western Sahara and attract US investment in its underperforming oil and gas industry.

But political upheaval back home has thrown those plans into turmoil.

The energy-rich North African country hired US law firm Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle in June 2018 along with other consultancies to help write a new energy law aimed at boosting investor confidence. Two months later, public energy company Sonatrach hired Washington lobby shop International Policy Solutions for $25,000 per month to lobby on behalf of both Algeria and the firm itself.

International Policy Solutions has six agents on the account, including founder and president David Jory and ex- Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., a former member of the House Natural Resources Committee. Public filings show its lobbyists met with officials from the Commerce Department and the US Geological Survey soon after the firm was hired. They also reached out to key lawmakers, including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Energy and Commerce energy panel Chairman Bobby Rush, D-Ill.


And in November, the Algerian government hired former National Rifle Association David Keene and his wife Donna Wiesner for $30,000 per month. The contract notably calls on Keene Consulting Services to “promote business, trade and investment opportunities of interest to Algeria.”

In his first six months of work for Algeria, Keene met with an A-list of Republican officials, including national security adviser John Bolton, Chief Justice John Roberts, and a half-dozen lawmakers including Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., a longtime champion of Algerian rival Morocco. Bolton delighted Algiers in December when he reaffirmed his support for a long-delayed independence referendum.

Meanwhile Foley Hoag, which has lobbied for Algiers since 2007, continues to represent the government for $35,000 per month. Following the Democrats’ mid-term victory, the firm notably reached out to freshman Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., in addition to the usual cast of congressional Algeria allies and leaders on foreign affairs.

The lobbying push scored some successes early this year, including a February visit by six lawmakers from oil-and-gas states – the first congressional delegation to Algeria since 2017. Foley Hoag lobbyists met with Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe, R-Okla., who led the delegation, two weeks before the trip.

The group met with then-Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and other officials, according to Algerian media. They also reportedly visited a camp for Sahrawi refugees in Tindouf. Algeria supports the Sahrawis’ right to independence in their native Western Sahara, which is administered by Morocco, and has long fought an annual influence battle against Rabat for favorable provisions in annual foreign aid appropriations legislation.


Events on the ground however risks setting back any progress in Washington. Mass protests forced out Abdelaziz Bouteflika after the ailing president ran for a fifth term in the April election, which has been indefinitely postponed.

Public unrest is now creating pressure for a purge of Bouteflika allies, potentially undermining lobbying efforts. Ouyahia, the former prime minister, was detained on corruption charges four months after his meeting with US lawmakers. And Sonatrach CEO Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour, a US-trained engineer who was leading efforts to reduce red tape and improve transparency, was fired in April – punting needed reforms into the uncertain future.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

The Middle East in your inbox Insights in your inbox.

Deepen your knowledge of the Middle East

Trend Reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. - On March 27, Saudi announced a deal with Japan's SoftBank to build the world's biggest solar plant. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulations on Middle East renewable energy industry starting to take shape

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial