Relations between Morocco and Mauritania are going through one of their best moments, which has led to the recovery of a project announced in 2018

Morocco to build a road between Smara and Mauritania six years after announcing the project

El ministro Nasser Bourita y su homólogo mauritano, el Sr. Mohamed Salem Ould Merzoug - Twitter @DiplomaciaM
Minister Nasser Bourita and his Mauritanian counterpart, Mr. Mohamed Salem Ould Merzoug - Twitter @DiplomacyM

Morocco has dusted off a project that, although officially announced more than five years ago, never got off the ground. And one of the fundamental reasons for reviving the construction of a road linking Smara to Mauritania is precisely the good moment in relations between the Alawites and their Mauritanian neighbours.

  1. A road to link Amgala with Mauritania
  2. The Morocco-Mauritania alliance, a problem for Algeria

First revealed in September 2018 by the former Minister of Equipment and Transport, Abdelkader Amara, this project aims to build a road that will pass through a MINURSO (United Nations Mission for the referendum in Western Sahara) operational base. Sources consulted by the media outlet Yabiladi claim that the road linking Amgala to Mauritania has already begun to be built.

El ministro Nasser Bourita y su homólogo mauritano, el Sr. Mohamed Salem Ould Merzoug - Twitter @DiplomaciaM
Minister Nasser Bourita and his Mauritanian counterpart, Mr. Mohamed Salem Ould Merzoug - Twitter @DiplomacyM

"The excavators of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR) have begun to comb the site in preparation for the next phase of the project," the sources said. The construction of this new section of road was on the agenda on 15 February during the meeting with the authorities responsible for the project. All this under the watchful eye of Colin Stewart, Secretary General for Western Sahara and head of MINURSO.

This new road is an important step forward for Morocco, as it will make it possible to limit to some extent the threat of the Polisario Front in this region. This is why the project is not so straightforward and has been stalled for so many years. Algeria's interests in maintaining influence in the area, through Polisario, are now clashing with those of Mauritania, which feels its alliance with Morocco is growing stronger by the day.

The Morocco-Mauritania alliance, a problem for Algeria

The Moroccan and Mauritanian administrations are on very good terms. Positive news is coming one after the other about the two countries and the projects that unite them. Just a few days ago, the Mauritania-Morocco Economic Forum took place in Nouakchott, where talks focused on the sectors of 'agriculture, fisheries, agri-food, energy and infrastructure'.

Ghazhouani y Abdelmadjid Tebboune
Ghazhouani y Abdelmadjid Tebboune

Mauritania has for years practised a funambulism typical of all those who do not want to lose ties with Morocco and Algeria. With relations between the regional rivals broken, their partners are moving along a fine line that seems to be swinging towards the Moroccan side, although it does not neglect its traditional Algerian partner. Or at least that is the trend that the latest decisions and moves by countries such as Mauritania suggest.

The project that has already been set in motion requires the approval of Mauritania, which, in addition, once the construction of the road has been completed, would have great responsibility for guaranteeing its safety. However, one of the reasons that kept Nouackchott away from this initiative was the reluctance of Algeria and the Polisario Front, which would be threatened by a new gain of support from Morocco.

But the current situation, with Morocco and Mauritania cooperating at all levels and relations becoming increasingly fruitful, has led the Mauritanian administration to focus its efforts on strengthening its alliance with the regional leader Rabat. A move that generates great discontent in Algeria as yet another country opts for the Moroccan side to the detriment of Algeria, which is increasingly isolated in terms of regional support.

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