Washington DC—February 21. 2021–During a televised speech to the Algerian people last week, President Tebboune referred to Morocco as an occupying force in the Western Sahara.
This is a case in point to why it is time to cut all diplomatic relations with the Algerian regime. This was not just a passing statement; this was a concerted and calculated effort to undermine any present or future reconciliations with Morocco.
Adding insult to injury, the Algerian military junta just issued a statement accusing Morocco and Israel of “stirring up trouble to destabilize Algeria.”
This is the first time the Algerians had named the Kingdom by name, threatening the fragile framework that has previously prevented the two countries’ divergences from devolving into open war. Notwithstanding the potential consequences of such standoff, both Morocco and Israel should respond forcefully to such anti-Semitic, ignorant and arrogant comments.
Treating such statements as merely a passing speech or momentary positions is immensely oversimplifying the fact that the Algerian regime is an enemy of Morocco. A proclamation by a neighboring head of state calling the Western Sahara Africa’s last colony is a near-declaration of war with the Kingdom.
In recent months, Algeria went as far as to side with Spain against Moroccan demands for the decolonization and the return of the two Spanish enclaves in North Africa to Morocco.
Morocco’s dismissiveness of such assertions is a failure of vision. Given Algeria’s on-going vigorous support of the Polisario separatist’s agenda, it is hard to imagine a considerable warming of the historically tense relationship between the two nations. Furthermore, Algeria’s allocation of considerable budget, manpower and official resources to counter and degrade Morocco at every international avenue is an indication that the future of relations remains uncertain and would likely deteriorate.
For many Moroccans, the current military junta running Algeria is a direct territorial as well as political threat irrespective of how the Western Sahara conflict goes.
Rabat has not gained any diplomatic or economic advantages form keeping its missions in Algiers open. A Moroccan decision to cut relations will further isolate a lonely Algeria. The Algerian government has had thorny relations with all its neighbors including Libya, Mauritania, Mali and Tunisia.
There are no nuances in the Algerian positions. For President Tebboune, as for his predecessors, Morocco is an occupier and aggressor that must be defeated. Therefore, there is no logic and no reason to keep diplomatic relations on an honest and amicable basis. Time to sever ties with Algerian regime is long overdue.
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Ties between the two North African nations, already at historic lows, have come under renewed pressure with Morocco’s recent military and diplomatic successes in the Western Sahara.
Algerian criticism of Morocco and its institutions has never been subtle. To the contrary, the Algerian Presidency, Military leadership, official media and political parties have led the charge against the Kingdom for years. This begs the question: what is the point of having diplomatic relations with a country that could be described at best, as a foe?
More urgently, Moroccan authorities must ensure that the Algerian military is held accountable of militia attacks, real or imaginary, that originate near Algerian borders. Polisario propaganda claiming raids like the one in the Ouarkziz area on the international borders is not going to end well for the region.
Moroccan restrained responses to years of Algerian military, financial and political support to the Polisario suggests, essentially, that Rabat will not hold the Algerians responsible for the deaths and countless damage the War in Western Sahara has inflicted on the Moroccan society and economy. Furthermore, the ruling military junta and its political minions have accused Morocco of several “attempts” to destabilize their regime, despite all evidence to the contrary.
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Moroccans have allowed Algerian officials supporting the Polisario to insulate themselves from international condemnation by hiding behind the ridiculous argument that Algeria is not a part in the Western Sahara conflict. In truth, Rabat has a myriad of evidence to expose the depth of Algerian involvement in current and past political and military attacks against its interests.
In the last Fifty years, Moroccan diplomacy, media and political establishment have been soft and considerate in their dealings with nations supporting the Polisario. While Algeria has had an active media apparatus aimed at insulting Morocco and his institutions, Moroccan officials remain “controlled” and meek in their counter attacks.
Algerian provocations have gone for too long and too far. In fact,
Algerian Generals never paid a price for their unconditional support of an armed militia that spilled Moroccan blood.
Morocco as a nation has suffered because of the Algerian choice to keep the Western Sahara conflict alive. Therefore, it is time to make the Algerians face the reality that the next armed conflict in the Moroccan Sahara would force the two armies to face each other.
Undoubtedly, many Moroccans have been demanding the ruptures of relations between the two nations. However, the Moroccan Monarch Has adopted an “open hand” policy hoping to see the other side some around. There is, though, limits to Morocco’s courteousness. It is time for the Moroccan institutions to evaluate relations with Algiers.
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