New signs and indications confirm a new cycle of tension in the Algerian-Moroccan relations and preclude the achievement of the Maghreb Union. This is due to the new military bases that Morocco is building along the common borders with Algeria.
Algeria President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has expressed the concern of his country about this issue. He described, in an interview with the French newspaper “L’opinion”, a week ago, that the building of the military bases as a kind of escalation, which must be stopped. However, this is the second time that Tebboune raises the issue of the Moroccan military bases in a French media.
Last May, Morocco announced the building of a military base in the Jaradah region near the Algerian border, in addition to strengthening its military presence in a number of territories in the southeast of the country.
The Jaradah region is located in the northeast of the Kingdom of Morocco, which is way far from the southern provinces.
Furthermore, the case of the military bases is added to the arms racing between the two countries, through deals equal to millions of dollars. Where Morocco ranked number one in purchasing American arms in 2019, in North Africa and the Middle East, with about $10.3 billion. However, Algeria was ranked third in purchasing arms from Russia, by 8% after India and China, where its purchases reached 30% of the volume of purchases in Africa.
A Provocation and threat to the national security
Algeria considers the Moroccan presence on its territories as a provocation and a threat to its national security. Former parliamentarian Mohamed Hudeibi confirmed the same to MENA Monitor. He said, “There are concerns that the military bases will turn into joint operating rooms for foreign powers that will be detrimental to Algeria’s interests”. Hudeibi added that Algerian-Moroccan relations are getting more tense and complicated than before. Moreover, he mentioned when the Moroccan consul in the city of Wahran, Algeria (northwest, has described Algeria in one statement as “enemy of Morocco”. Where he appeared while talking to Moroccan people who demonstrated in front of the Moroccan consulate demanding to be deported to their country. They found themselves stranded in Algeria after flights stopped in mid-March due to the Corona virus pandemic.
The security expert and director of the “Mena Defense” site, Akram Khareef, rules out any changes to the Moroccan-Algerian relations. He believes that the tense has been between them for decades due to the conflict on Western Sahara, in addition to closing the borders between the two neighboring countries since 1994. He says in a statement to MENA Monitor that this tension does not represent the choice of the Algerian and Moroccan people.
The reconciliation is just a dead letter
Activists on social media often launch campaigns to reopen the Moroccan-Algerian borders and rebuild the Arab Maghreb Union. Similarly, officials from the two countries also launch initiatives to have an open and direct dialogue between the two countries. However, all initiatives remain sheer words.
Algeria President Abdelmadjid Tebboune in an interview with “France 24” a month ago, commented in this regard that Algeria does not have any issue with the brotherly people of Morocco, nor with the king of Morocco, and that the kingdom must change its behavior towards Algeria. Furthermore, Tebboune expressed his country’s willingness to accept any initiative for a dialogue that Rabat launches.
Moreover, King Mohammed VI in the Green March Speech in 2018 launched an initiative for an open and straightforward dialogue with Algeria. Nevertheless, his initiative did not achieve any progress.
The Algerian media and political analyst, Ahsan Khalas, said in a statement to MENA Monitor that there are several unresolved issues prevent settling the crisis between Algeria and Morocco. Most notably the Western Sahara issue, which ruins the relations between the two countries, in addition to the closed land borders since 1994 due to the unsolved problems related to it such as smuggling and drugs.
The Western Sahara issue is considered one of the most complex issues between Rabat and Algeria. Morocco has previously demanded Algeria to be a part of the United Nations-sponsored negotiations to resolve the conflict. However, Algeria has insisted that these negotiations to be limited to the two main parties to the conflict, namely Morocco and the Polisario Front.