Nobody had any illusions about Angela Merkel’s visit to Algeria this week. Although the official reason for the visit was to oversee the signing of deal to build a major landmark mosque in Algiers (rendering shown – talk about corporate foreign policy!) and call for the deepening of economic ties between Germany and the North African nation, the message was plainly telegraphed to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika: It’s critical to European security that you boost independent supplies to the EU, and avoid too close a relationship with Gazprom. Whether or not the German government perceives a threat from Russia’s long-standing embrace of Algeria’s state-owned gas company Sonatrach, aided by debt forgiveness and large arms deals, the country has legitimate concerns about becoming too reliant on Russian supply (about 70% of oil and gas to Germany come from Russia, and that figure should climb significantly with the building of the Nord Stream pipeline). Even a technical problem in the delivery infrastructure, independent of politics, could produce a considerable economic hiccup in Germany. But I do take note of the timing of Merkel’s visit. Only two weeks ago, Gazprom shocked the energy sector by making a very public offer to buy ALL of Libya’s natural gas at significant high market prices, a deal which, among others, arguably makes the Russian company a self-sustained independent global gas cartel, sewing up another potential energy competitor along the Southern flank of Europe. I think it is fair to say that Germany has a reasonable concern over Algerian-Russian energy relations. However Merkel’s strategy to court the Algerians seemed a bit off-target. If we have learned anything from Moscow, she shouldn’t have traveled there with a delegation from E.ON and RWE – but rather with the defense contractors from EADS.