In another chapter of the tension that involves two of North Africa’s greatest powers, the Algerian government announced the severing of diplomatic relations with Morocco, arguing that the country is acting in a hostile manner and accusing its neighbor of sponsoring terrorism. and to practice espionage. .
The announcement was made by Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra on Tuesday (24), and comes against the backdrop of two separatist movements, one in each country.
Almost half of Morocco’s territory is occupied by Western Sahara, a region in search of independence and the target of government repression. This is precisely the reason for the breakdown of relations between Algeria and Morocco in 1976, when the Algerians recognize the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), proclaimed by the independence movement Front Polisario. The region, however, never really gained independence and is still fighting for elections: in November last year, the Polisario Front declared it was resuming armed struggle.
The United States has supported the sovereignty of the government in Rabat, the Moroccan capital, over the entire territory, especially since December, in exchange for an improvement in relations between Morocco and Israel, which Algeria has described as “foreign interference”.
The Moroccan government has started supporting the independence of Kabylia, a Berber region in northeastern Algeria. In July of this year, the Moroccan ambassador to the UN (United Nations) defended the independence of the region. It was the last straw for the decision to sever relations, said Minister Lamamra on Tuesday, who called the initiative “dangerous and irresponsible”.
Algeria accuses Morocco of supporting the independence movement MAK, which Algerians accuse of being terrorists and of causing forest fires that killed 90 people last week. Morocco is also using the Pegasus program to spy on Algerian authorities’ cellphones, the Algiers government accused: Moroccans deny access to the software.
“The kingdom of Morocco has never ceased to be hostile to Algeria,” said Lamamra, who said the consulates of the two countries would remain open. “The Moroccan security and propaganda services are waging a vile war against Algeria, its people and its leaders, spreading rumors and malicious and inflammatory information,” he said.
The Moroccan foreign minister responded in a statement posted on social media that he regretted what he called an unjustifiable decision and rejected “the fallacious and absurd pretexts which support it”. The note also indicates that the country will continue to be “a reliable and loyal partner” for the Algerian people.
At the end of July, King Mohammed 4 of Morocco criticized the tensions with Algeria and called on Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune to “work in harmony to develop relations” between the two countries.
The border between the two North African countries has been closed since 1994, but diplomatic relations have been maintained since their reestablishment in 1988. Morocco says it wants to reopen the border for years, but Algeria denies keeping it closed for reasons. of security. .