Although Algeria had shut its doors for Morocco in the year 1994, yet the country had maintained its bilateral ties with its neighbour. But recent events, along with the involvement of Israel, have refuelled the already existing feud between the two nations, and has resulted in Algeria cutting diplomatic ties with its Moroccan counterpart.
Problems between the two nations have been prevalent for decades. Tracing its origins back to the Sand war in 1963, followed by the Western Sahara War and the closure of the Algeria-Morocco border in 1975 and 1994 respectively. Their animosity has been amplified over their disagreement over the disputed Western Sahara region.
Algeria has time and again accused Morocco of being hostile and breaching the bilateral commitment. The major crux of their feud is the disputed Western Sahara region, for which the two parties are claiming their autonomy. While Morocco regards the territory as its own, Algeria supports the Polisario independence movement, which asserts the right to self-determination in the region.
Additionally, Algeria’s Foreign Minister, Ramdane Lamamra has also condemned its neighbour for backing separatist groups, who were held responsible for wildfires in the country.
The Algerian president Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s office had released a statement claiming that the forests were set ablaze by people associated with two groups, namely Rashad group and MAK, claiming that the latter was backed by Morocco along with its ally, Israel. Both these groups are regarded as terrorist organisations in the country, and we’re also responsible for subsequent lynchings incidents.
“The incessant hostile acts carried out by Morocco against Algeria have necessitated the review of relations between the two countries,” the statement said.
The statement read that MAK “gets support and help from foreign parties, particularly Morocco and the Zionist entity”, referring to Israel. Although all the accusations were made devoid of any evidence, the Moroccan and the Israeli foreign ministries were unavailable to comment or verify the allegations.
Addressing a news conference in Algiers lately, Lamamra has also alleged Morocco of using Israeli-made Pegasus spyware for spying on various Algerian officials, which contributed as the last straw for the cessation of the diplomatic ties.
“Algeria has decided to break diplomatic relations with Morocco starting today, “Lamamra said.
“The Moroccan kingdom has never stopped its hostile actions against Algeria,” he added.
Algeria has always been in dispute with Israel over the Israel-Palestine issue and has condemned Israel for signing the Abraham Accords with Morocco, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
“There is a mad rush among Arabs to normalize ties. We will not participate in it. We will not accept it. We will not bless it. The Palestine cause is sacred, and we will not give it up,” said president Tebboune.
In December 2020, the United States backed Morocco and recognised its autonomy over Western Sahara, in return for Rabat to restore its relations with Israel.
Although Morocco’s influence over Western Sahara continues to be unrecognised internationally, it still controls large parts of the region. It has been speculated that Israel might provide military support to Morocco in conquering the region, and this has triggered Algeria.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s statements made during his Morocco visit had worsened the matter further.
“Some concern about the role of the Algerian state in the region, which has drawn closer to Iran and is currently campaigning against Israel’s admission to the African Union as an observer,’’ Lapid said he shared with his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita.
In response to Israel, Lamamra had also released a declaration
“Morocco has turned its territory into a platform allowing foreign powers to speak with hostility about Algeria. … Since 1948, no Israeli official made a hostile declaration to an Arab country from another Arab country,’’ said Lamamra.
Israel’s statements, Israel’s inhuman acts in Palestine, the Western Sahara disagreement, coupled with its neighbour using Israel made spyware against its officials had prompted Algeria to nullify all ties with Israeli-backed Morocco.
Meanwhile, Morocco has expressed its dismay over Algeria breaking their relations.
The move was “expected … given the logic of escalation observed in recent weeks,” Morocco’s foreign ministry said in a statement released overnight.
“Morocco categorically rejects the fallacious, even absurd, pretexts underlying it,” it said.
While Israel has requested Algeria to focus on their problems and leave Israel out of its disputes.
An Israeli diplomatic source calls Lamamra’s allegations “unfounded and without interest — they bring nothing new.”
“Algeria should focus on its problems, serious economic problems especially, so its citizens can live the life they deserve, rather than trying to harm their neighbour and involve Israel in its disputes,” said the source.