” The Canary Islands and the occupied enclaves of Sebta and Melilla fuel friction between Spain and Morocco,while Gibraltar continues to be the subject of tensions between Spain and the United Kingdom”, estimate experts from the Mediterranean Foundation for Strategic Studies (FMES), former French soldiers, in their latest biennial edition of the Strategic Atlas of the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
But the report of the FMES does not stop at that, it also evokes the tensions between Rabat and Algiers. The experts have even gone so far as to sketch a scenario of conflagration between the two countries with real tensions that would be in the Strait of Gibraltar. Indeed, the Mediterranean basin has experienced a series of geopolitical events over the last decade that have changed the balance of power in the region and the balance inherited from the end of the Cold War, further specify the FMES experts. . The Mare Nostrum and its extension towards the Red Sea are shaken by various conflicts of varying intensity which affect the stability of the Mediterranean basin. The Strait of Gibraltar is one of the world’s main maritime freight passages, particularly in terms of transporting hydrocarbons. Where the northern shore of the Strait is unified under the double umbrella of the European Union and NATO, this is far from being the case on the southern shore where the region suffers from the absence of synergy and cooperation. between North African states.
While everything should push the States of North Africa to cooperate closely with each other (economic development, environmental issues, security threats, terrorism, flow of illegal migrants, fight against trafficking of all kinds), the five States – Egypt, Libya , Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, have closed their common borders with the exception of Algeria with Tunisia and remain obsessed with the North-South relationship. The coastal highway that connects the Suez Canal to the Strait of Gibraltar, which could be a link between them, ultimately turns out to be a real obstacle course, reports the FMES again. All the countries on the southern shore have difficult relations with their coastal neighbours, with the possible exception of Tunisia.
It is therefore unsurprising within the countries of the southern shore that geopolitical tensions are the strongest, indicates the FMES study. The protection of the regimes in place against the risk of destabilization, the diversion of discontent towards an external scapegoat, the channeling of frustrations in a nationalist headlong rush favor the stiffening of rulers and martial postures. The growth of defense budgets in this region and the large orders for first-rate armaments are illustrations of this, point out the FMES experts.
Today, the south-eastern shore is marked by two countries which have just emerged from civil war (Libya, Syria) and three offensive countries in their geopolitical posture: Algeria vis-à-vis Morocco, Israel vis-à-vis vis-à-vis Iran and pro-Iranian militias in Lebanon and Syria and Turkey vis-à-vis Greece and Cyprus. On the northern shore, concerns are limited to Islamic terrorism, migratory flows and gas resources, with the exception of Greece and Cyprus, which are more directly confronted with Turkish expansionism. This discrepancy in perceptions and positions can foster misunderstandings, sources of conflict.
With regard to Algeria and Morocco, the analysis of the FMES tells us that “Several reasons could provoke an armed confrontation: the historical rivalry between the two countries, the conflict in the Sahara which has poisoned the relations between Rabat and Algiers and a possible headlong rush by the Algerian generals in the event of the collapse of the regime of which they are the pillars”, forecast the FMES experts. In the event of a confrontation, the Kingdom would have the advantage on the ground, intelligence where in addition to its experience in the matter it would benefit from American and Israeli cybernetic capacities. Where Algerian land intelligence and surveillance capabilities, “although quantitatively greater, cannot be diverted from the Sahelian border for too long
Morocco also has rustic and motivated fighters who benefit from Ioperational experience acquired against the Polisario and in the UN missions “. An element that has demonstrated its tactical and strategic value, particularly in the Ukrainian conflict. In the air, the Algerian superiority would be doomed to dwindle over time with the planned delivery of the F-16V to Morocco. FMES experts also agree on the hypothesis that there would be “a reciprocal vulnerability which would involve probably disproportionate losses”, in the event of massive use of deep attacks by both parties. “In the event of a major confrontation, Morocco’s strategy would undoubtedly aim to seek a stalemate through conventional defense, asymmetric actions on Algerian territory and a communications war. In the end, the most likely scenario remains that of recurrent border clashes between Algeria and Morocco”, estimate the FMES experts.