Despite Algeria's conflictive stance

Marruecos evita la tensión con Argelia

Border between Morocco and Algeria

Morocco avoids entering into a dynamic of tension with Algeria that could lead to an escalation of warlike confrontations after the latest accusations of 'state terrorism' by the Algerian Foreign Minister, Ramtane Lamamra, in his letter addressed to the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, and to other organisations such as the African Union, the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, as well as the ambassadors accredited in Algiers who were summoned to receive his report on the death of three Algerian civilian drivers of two trucks allegedly attacked in Western Sahara.  

For now, this is the latest serious case of friction between the two neighbours vying for leadership in the region, with the Sahara conflict as a key element to justify the disagreements, but with other relevant conditioning factors, especially in the case of Algeria, which sees Morocco gaining an advantage due to the support of the United States and Arab countries and its relations with Israel, while its regional and international position is weakening and it suffers serious internal problems, both political and economic and social.


Internal problems

Despite its hydrocarbon wealth, Algeria's economy has been going through a serious crisis for some years now, which many experts and representatives of international companies with relations in the Maghreb country explain by the mismanagement of a centralised authoritarian regime and the transition of its leaders, some of whom have been imprisoned for corruption. The military and political leaders of the revolution that achieved independence and won the civil war against the Islamists are disappearing, but the transition to a new democratic regime, demanded for two years by the Hirak movement, which mobilised thousands of Algerians every Friday in the streets of all the country's cities, is being slowed down by the resistance of some military leaders to losing their privileges and imposing very aggressive decisions to use an external enemy as a distraction from internal problems. The influence of powers such as China and Iran, as well as Russia, which is playing both sides, are determining factors in Algeria's latest decisions.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune

Diplomatic efficiency 

While Algeria has struggled internally in a complicated process towards a new political situation, badly hit by the scourge of the coronavirus pandemic that has aggravated the economic and social crisis, its Moroccan neighbour has been able to better weather the enormous effects of the pandemic at the same time that its new diplomatic strategy launched in 2017 with its re-entry into the African Union began to bear fruit by exercising a certain leadership in Africa, both in the political, economic and social spheres, including the regularisation of sub-Saharan immigrants, and above all by getting US President Donald Trump to announce support for Morocco's sovereignty over the Sahara in December 2020, at the same time as Rabat officially recognised its relations with Israel. From that moment on, a new phase in the Sahara conflict began with the opening of 23 consulates in Laayoune and Dakhla and the launch of major economic, commercial, and industrial projects in the territory that Morocco considers its Southern Provinces. Countries such as France and the United Kingdom have not, for the moment, publicly expressed their support for the solution of broad autonomy for the Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty as proposed by Mohammed VI in order to achieve a solution within the framework of the United Nations, which is where the Spanish government takes refuge in order to avoid taking sides and maintain its historical balance in its relations with its two Maghreb neighbours. However, a French company is in charge of building the new large port in Dakhla and President Macron's party has opened a headquarters in the Saharan city, while the UK is strengthening its political, commercial and military agreements with Morocco, including maritime supplies and the largest submarine energy cable that will provide the UK with 8 per cent of its energy produced by renewables in Morocco. 

Mohamed VI, rey de Marruecos

Energy key

Herein lies another of the grievances between the two Maghreb neighbours: the notable growth in the exploitation of renewable energies in Morocco is a major source of competition for Algerian gas, which fears losing its preponderance in the region in the face of what some consider to be Moroccan investments in renewables that could turn it into Europe's energy battery.

The analysis of the Algerian-Moroccan disputes should include the purchase of arms in recent months by the two governments, which, in principle, has a dissuasive character and is more focused on the terrorist threat in the Sahel, but, for the moment, Morocco has used armed drones purchased from Israel and Turkey in its confrontations with the Polisario. Algeria has purchased Klub and Iskander missiles from Russia.

Mapa gas Marruecos Argelia

Mohammed VI's good wishes

The Moroccan government of the new Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch maintains in its relations with Algeria the lines set out by King Mohammed VI in his speech on the occasion of the Feast of the Throne on 31 July, in which he invited the Algerian president to open the borders and develop fraternal relations between the two peoples. Rabat's intention is to keep the path of dialogue and negotiation open in order to avoid an escalation of military tension and regional destabilisation in the face of Algeria's recent actions.

In August, Algeria's president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, ordered the severance of diplomatic relations with Morocco due to a series of hostile circumstances and actions in recent weeks, which the Algerian foreign minister described as the Pegasus case, the alleged Moroccan espionage of Algerian personalities, and Morocco's position on the Algerian Kabyle tribes.

Aziz Akhannouch

UN decisions

In October, Algeria walked out of the UN-sponsored negotiating table in Geneva on the Sahara, a few days before the new Security Council resolution extending MINURSO's mandate for another year with recommendations to seek a solution through political negotiation without mentioning the holding of a referendum. Algeria and the Polisario Front strongly criticised this resolution, which was welcomed by Morocco, which had previously accepted the new UN special envoy, the experienced Staffan de Mistura. In his annual report, the UN Secretary General had highlighted the diplomatic progress and economic development of the Sahara and confirmed the Polisario Front's armed actions at the Guerguerat border crossing in October and November 2020. 

Staffan de Mistura

The next step announced by Algeria became a reality on 31 October with the closure of the Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline after not renewing the contract to punish Morocco, which received money and gas as a toll for the passage through its territory to Spain and Portugal.