For many years, the connection between Morocco and Algeria has been characterised by rigidity, oblique assaults and the help of proxies. The Algerians again the Polisario Entrance, an armed group that fought Morocco for management of Western Sahara from 1975 to 1991. Morocco is in command of a lot of the territory and considers it to be its personal, however the Polisario needs independence. The Moroccans are accused of supporting teams that Algeria not too long ago designated as terrorists. These embrace the Islamist Rachad and the Amazigh separatist Motion for the Self-Dedication of Kabylie (MAK).

Not All Quiet on the Western Sahara Entrance


The newest episode on this tense relationship between the North African nations came about in August when Algeria severed diplomatic relations with Morocco. The transfer got here after a collection of wildfires swept via the Amazigh-speaking Kabylie area in what Algeria claims was a covert Moroccan operation to bolster the MAK.

For Algeria, this was a fragile time for the federal government as a result of an financial disaster exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, political unrest since 2020, and the unwell well being and subsequent demise of the nation’s former chief, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Stress within the Maghreb

Algeria and Morocco have been antagonistic neighbors since their respective independence from the French. Border discord gave rise to a tenacious rivalry that worsened with the Western Sahara dispute when Algeria turned the primary supporter of the Polisario Entrance. This unfinished battle and the decades-long closure of the land border between Algeria and Morocco are essentially the most tangible examples of the enmity that retains the Maghreb divided.

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Diplomatic spats and mutual accusations of instigating inner turmoil have been frequent. One space the place the tense calm in bilateral relations has been the navy. The 2 nations have engaged in a speedy arms race fueled, in Algeria‘s case, by beneficiant hydrocarbon revenues within the first decade of the century. Regardless of its efforts, Morocco’s navy finances has been outstripped since 2006. Solely because of Algeria‘s financial fragility has Morocco been in a position to make a major restoration.

Latest years have been characterised by Morocco’s impetuous diplomatic exercise, notably within the Gulf and all through Africa. Within the face of Morocco’s elevated worldwide projection, the Algerians have tried to reply regardless of the nation’s poor financial scenario.

Specifically, the Algerians have sought to construct nearer relations with African nations. Algeria has strengthened ties with its conventional ally Nigeria, restarting talks on the development of the trans-Saharan gasoline pipeline. It has additionally strengthened cooperation with nations resembling Mali and Libya.

Implications for Spain

Europe overlooks North Africa and is separated by mere miles from Morocco. In consequence, the Europeans have a direct stake within the rigidity south of the Mediterranean. The European nation most affected by the latest escalation between Morocco and Algeria is Spain.

Taking a place in favor of 1 celebration may have direct penalties on both the safety of Spain’s southern border that’s near northern Morocco or the provision of pure gasoline that it receives from Algeria. This comes at a time when the stream of migrants throughout the Mediterranean is growing and the value of gasoline, coal and electrical energy is rising.

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The closure of the Maghreb-Europe gasoline pipeline on November 1 has direct implications for Spain for the reason that route was a significant supply of provide for over 20 years. The pipeline additionally passes via Morocco, which retained a part of the gasoline in change for permitting the road to function through its territory. Morocco used the gasoline to supply round 12% of the nation’s electrical energy. The Medgaz pipeline is seen as a alternative, which might permit Algeria to do away with intermediaries and likewise strike a blow towards Morocco.

But this won’t spare Spain, which has no voice in regional disputes regardless of its need to current itself as a powerful European nation. It’s unclear how lengthy this new episode of rigidity within the Maghreb will play out, nevertheless it may have severe implications for Europe.

The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Honest Observer’s editorial coverage.