Algeria recalled its ambassador to Morocco on Sunday for consultations as a new diplomatic row erupted between regional rivals.
The move came after Morocco’s envoy to the United Nations, Omar Hilale, expressed support for the self-determination of the traditionally agitated Kabylia in Algeria, a stronghold of the country’s Amazigh (Berber) minority.
Hilale made the remarks in a note to the presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement earlier this month at UN headquarters in New York, stating that “the valiant Kabyle people deserve, more than any other, to fully enjoy their right to self-determination “. .
The Algerian foreign ministry declared that Morocco had thus âpublicly and explicitly supported an alleged right to self-determination of the Kabyle peopleâ.
On Friday, she asked Morocco to “clarify” its position after “inadmissible comments from its ambassador in New York”.
Algeria opposes any call for independence in the northeastern region and on May 18 described the Independence Movement for the Self-Determination of Kabylia (MAK) as a “terrorist organization”.
Hilale’s comments aroused the wrath of Algerian politicians and on social media, with Algerians defending the country’s territorial unity.
Algeria’s long-strained relations with Morocco have deteriorated in recent times as the Western Sahara conflict erupted after a lengthy ceasefire.
Morocco considers the former Spanish colony and is an integral part of its kingdom, but Algeria has supported the Polisario movement which seeks independence there.
Morocco’s normalization of diplomatic relations with Israel last year, which was accompanied by a counterpart to the US recognition of Rabat’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, has sparked new tensions with Algeria.