Morocco and Algeria have not had diplomatic relations for a year. On August 24, Algiers announced, to everyone’s surprise, its severance of ties between the two countries, citing a series of grievances dating back to 1963, the first military confrontation between the two neighboring countries. A year later, what is the assessment of the situation?
Algeria has suffered a series of international disappointments in recent years, the peak of which was the recognition by the United States of the Moroccanity of the Sahara, and the agreement on the restoration of diplomatic relations with Israel.
Since the tripartite agreement signed on December 22, 2020, the countdown to Algeria’s inflammatory reaction has been launched. A series of actions hostile to Morocco, aimed at making it react to outbid it, were launched from Algiers without Morocco responding.
Among these actions, untimely and provocative statements by senior Algerian officials, including the president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, targeting the Kingdom’s constants and interference in internal affairs.
In addition, the Benbattouche affair or the Brahim Ghali affair, in April 2021, signed a new disappointment for Algeria at the international level when it was revealed that the Algerian authorities plotted with Madrid, the illegal entry of the leader of the Sahrawi separatist militia of the Polisario in Spain.
Algeria had granted an Algerian diplomatic passport to the leader of the Polisario, under a false identity, Mohamed Benbattouche, in order to circumvent the customs and the Spanish officers who would have discovered that Brahim Ghali had been prosecuted since 2008 for various cases including for “genocide”, “rape”, “enforced disappearances”, “torture”…
In addition, Algeria was going through a multifaceted crisis at the same time, on the economic, political, social and even health levels, in particular with a delay in vaccines, oxygen shortages in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a period of political transition rejected by the street through the civil movement of Hirak, negative economic indicators and forest fires in Kabylia in the summer of 2021 which have reinforced the people’s feeling of mistrust towards the Algerian authorities.
The fires affected several countries around the Mediterranean due to heat waves, but Algeria was the only country with the highest death toll, more than 100 people dead and to date, no official report.
The country not equipped with devices to put out the fires had been slow to respond and had especially refused the Canadairs offered and made available by Morocco before accusing it of being responsible.
A few days later, the announcement of the severance of diplomatic relations between the two countries was acted upon by Algiers. Morocco had reacted by regretting “this completely unjustified but expected decision – in view of the logic of escalation observed in recent weeks – as well as its impact on the Algerian people”, and by “categorically rejecting the fallacious, even absurd, pretexts which underlie it”.
He nevertheless affirmed that he “will remain a credible and loyal partner for the Algerian people and will continue to act, with wisdom and responsibility, for the development of healthy and fruitful inter-Maghreb relations. »
Except that Algiers outbid on September 22 by announcing the closure of its airspace to all Moroccan civil and military aircraft and to all those registered in Morocco.
A year later, the situation of tension between the two neighbors is still the same, no sign of appeasement has been shown on the Algerian side, while in Morocco, King Mohammed VI has twice shown his openness to reconciliation and reached out to Algerian officials to settle all matters of contention.
None of these calls found an echo in Algeria, which claims to have no problem with any country, let alone an Arab country. Yet hostile and unfriendly actions towards Morocco have continued to occur since 2021.
We can cite the contract for the GME gas pipeline which linked Algeria, Morocco and Spain, which was not renewed so that Morocco would not benefit from Algerian gas, and the pressure exerted on Spain so that it does not resell Algerian gas to Morocco.
Algeria has organized several demonstrations of force on the borders with Morocco with military maneuvers with live ammunition, and exercises directed against the enemy in the direction of Morocco. Algerian companies, even private ones, have been ordered not to deal or trade with Morocco.
The country has also mixed sport with politics since it refused to participate in sports competitions in Morocco, notably the futsal CAN organized in the Moroccan Sahara. There was also the shameful welcome and the prohibition of access to Moroccan sports journalists during the Mediterranean Games in Oran, on the pretext that they were not accredited or that they were spies.
Algeria has also boycotted international or continental events organized in Morocco such as the CAF Awards ceremony or the USA-Africa Trade Summit.
In addition, the Algerian authorities engaged in a diplomatic crisis with Spain when the country announced its support for the Moroccan autonomy proposal for the Sahara and attempted to blackmail it with gas and trade to do so. reconsider its sovereign decision.
Finally, among the latest events to date are the race for competition from the Morocco-Nigeria gas pipeline by Algeria by reviving a similar old abandoned project, simultaneously with the recent progress recorded for the Moroccan project and, the same for the of Gara Djiblet.
The question of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara therefore remains the backdrop to Algeria’s attitude towards Morocco. It is for Algeria to try to weaken Morocco to satisfy its desire to position itself as the greatest regional power.
But above all, to perpetuate this artificial conflict to avoid discussing angry subjects, namely the question of the delimitation of the border between the two countries after French colonization, which had given the advantage to Algeria (at the French department, editor’s note) to the detriment of its North African neighbours, and the retrocession to Morocco of towns currently occupied by Algeria.
The severance of diplomatic relations between Algeria and Morocco at the initiative of Algiers took place in a context of internal crisis in Algeria and the people’s distrust of the military institution which has controlled the country since independence.
With this rupture, Algeria used the old nationalist sentiment of the post-independence period to close the ranks of the entire population around a scapegoat, the “external enemy” by targeting Morocco, which enabled it to avoid and divert attention from the deep dysfunctions of the country and the uncertainties that surround political stability.