The Moroccan government's recent plan to expropriate Algerian state property has come at just the right time to serve as a pretext for the Algiers authorities to launch provocative cries and thinly veiled threats

Renewed tension between Algiers and Rabat

Embajada de Argelia en Marruecos
Embassy of Algeria in Morocco

Issue number 5811 of the Moroccan Official Gazette, dated 13 March 2024, announced a project to expropriate real estate belonging to the Algerian state in the city of Rabat, for reasons of 'public utility'.   

The three properties for which expropriation proceedings had been initiated were: 

  • A vacant plot of land called "Kabalia", with a surface area of 619 square metres. 
  • A house called "Zanzi", with a total area of 630 square metres. It consists of two floors plus a ground floor for offices.  
  • And a residence called "Villa le Soleil Levant", with a surface area of 491.00 square metres, consisting of one floor and multiple facilities. 

The expropriation project in no way affects the Algerian Embassy, which has been closed since the regime broke off diplomatic relations between the two countries on 24 August 2021, following a meeting of the High Security Council. Only properties belonging to the Algerian state, located around the headquarters of the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are affected. 

The draft decree explains that the expropriation of the properties is due to "the public utility required for the extension of the administrative buildings for the benefit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Residing Abroad, in the Commune of Rabat (...)". Four properties belonging to Moroccan nationals are also affected by this project.  

Embajada de Argelia en Marruecos
Embassy of Algeria in Morocco

As is customary in this type of situation, the natural or legal persons concerned have two months from the publication of the text in the Official Gazette to express their opposition and their observations. 

Secondly, the expropriation is compensated. This hardly constitutes a spoliation, as the press release issued by the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 17 March described it. A press release with a bellicose and threatening tone. "The Algerian government will respond to these provocations by all the means it deems appropriate," reads the conclusion of a statement that distorts reality by making it appear that it is the Algerian embassy building that is in question.  

"Algeria considers this to be an unspeakable violation of the respect and duty to protect the diplomatic representations of sovereign states, as enshrined in international law and custom. In this sense, the Moroccan project, contrary to civilised international practice, constitutes a serious breach of its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which obliges it to respect and protect embassies on its territory in all circumstances. The tone is, frankly, excessive for a bare piece of land and two unoccupied buildings. These properties are in no way affected by the Vienna Agreements cited in the Algerian communiqué. And, if we want to go further back in history, the land on these properties was a gift from the late Sultan Mohammed V to the Algerian National Liberation Front during Algeria's war of independence.  

As for the headquarters of the Algerian Embassy, protected by the Vienna Accords, it is located in the luxurious Souissi neighbourhood on Boulevard Mohammed VI. It was built in the early 2000s. It is a long way away, and it is a real shame to see this sumptuous chancellery closed.