Algeria breaks diplomatic relations with Morocco for “hostile actions”

Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra blamed Moroccan leaders for being “responsible for repeated crises” and behavior that “led to conflict instead of integration” in North Africa after months of tension between two neighbors.

Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra makes a gesture while reading a statement by the country’s president in Algiers, August 24, 2021. (Fateh Guidoum / AP)

Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra said his country had severed diplomatic relations with Morocco due to “hostile actions” after months of resurgent tensions between North African rivals.

Countries have long accused each other of supporting opposition movements as proxies, with Algeria’s alleged support for separatists in the disputed region of Western Sahara being a particular bone of contention for Morocco.

“Algeria has decided to cut diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Morocco from today,” Lamamra announced at a press conference.

“History has shown it … Morocco has never stopped carrying out hostile actions against Algeria,” he added.

Lamamra accused Moroccan leaders of “responsibility for repeated crises” and behavior that “led to conflict instead of integration” in North Africa.

READ MORE: Morocco signs agreements with US-Israeli delegation marking normalization

“Completely unjustified”

The Moroccan foreign ministry said on Tuesday that Algeria’s decision to sever diplomatic relations with its neighbor was “completely unjustified”, adding that the decision was based on “false, even absurd, pretexts”.

The Algiers decision was nevertheless “expected given the logic of escalation observed in recent weeks,” the ministry said in a statement.

At the end of last month, the King of Morocco Mohamed VI lamented the tensions between the two countries, and called on Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune “to make wisdom prevail” and “to work in unison for the development of relations. “between the two countries.

But the forest fires in Algeria, which broke out on August 9 amid a scorching heatwave, have burned tens of thousands of hectares of forest and killed at least 90 people, including more than 30 soldiers, further fueling tensions. .

While critics say Algerian authorities have not prepared for the fires, Tebboune said most of the fires were “criminal” in origin.

The Algerian authorities have questioned the independence movement in the predominantly Berber region of Kabylia stretching along the Mediterranean coast east of the capital.

Algiers accused Rabat of supporting the separatists.

“The Moroccan provocation reached its climax when a Moroccan delegate to the United Nations demanded the independence of the people of the Kabylia region,” Lamamra said on Tuesday.

Last month, Algeria recalled its ambassador to Rabat for consultations after Morocco’s envoy to the United Nations, Omar Hilale, expressed support for self-determination in that region.

At the time, the Algerian Foreign Ministry declared that Morocco “thus publicly and explicitly supports an alleged right to self-determination of the Kabyle people”.

Algerian authorities have also accused the Movement for Self-Determination of Kabylia (MAK) of being involved in the lynching of a man falsely accused of arson during the recent forest fires, an incident that sparked outrage. .

Algeria last week accused Morocco of supporting the group, which it calls a “terrorist organization”.

‘Bad Decision’

“The incessant acts of hostility carried out by Morocco against Algeria have necessitated the revision of relations between the two countries”, declared the presidency.

He also said there would be an “intensification of security checks at the western borders” with Morocco.

The border between Algeria and Morocco has been closed since 1994.

Mohamed, a Moroccan bus driver, called Algeria’s latest decision a “bad decision”.

“It’s like cutting ties with your neighbor next door,” he told AFP.

The two North African countries as well as Tunisia were united, he added, affirming that “there are no differences, it happens between governments”.

The Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs also accused Morocco of waging “a media war … against Algeria, its people and its leaders”.

But Lamamra also said consular assistance to citizens of the two countries would not be affected.

Relations between Algiers and Rabat have been strained over the past decades, particularly over the burning issue of the disputed Western Sahara.

Morocco considers the former Spanish colony to be an integral part of its kingdom, but Algeria has supported the Polisario movement which seeks independence there.

A normalization deal between Morocco and Israel in December sparked new tensions between Rabat and Algiers because the United States recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara as part of the deal.

Lamamra on Tuesday accused the Israeli foreign minister of “senseless accusations and veiled threats” after Yair Lapid expressed “concerns about the role played by Algeria in the region”.

On his first visit to Morocco since the countries normalized relations, Lapid said his concerns were based on fears that Algeria was “moving closer to Iran”, as well as “the campaign it is facing. led against Israel’s admission as an observer member of the African Union. . “

READ MORE: Israel opens diplomatic office in Morocco

Source: AFP

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