Arab League, OIC decry Algeria-Morocco diplomatic fallout

Published August 26, 2021
An Algeria man holds today's newspaper in the capital Algiers, on August 25. — AFP
An Algeria man holds today's newspaper in the capital Algiers, on August 25. — AFP

CAIRO/RABAT: The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Arab League and Saudi Arabia called for “dialogue” on Wednesday to resolve arguments between neighbouring Algeria and Morocco.

Algeria said it had cut diplomatic relations with Morocco because of “hostile actions”, following months of resurgent tensions between the North African rivals.

The OIC “called for dialogue to resolve any possible differences”, a statement from the Jeddah-based organisation, said on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia called on both nations “to prioritise dialogue” to help “achieve security and stability,” a foreign ministry statement read.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit urged “both countries to exercise restraint and to avoid further escalation” in a statement.

Algiers has long been at odds with Rabat — particularly over the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony Morocco sees as an integral part of its territory, but where Algiers has supported the Polisario independence movement.

Their rivalry took a new twist last year when outgoing US president Donald Trump recognised Moroccan sovereignty over the territory — in exchange for Morocco normalising ties with Israel.

For Algeria, that amounted to Rabat “introducing a foreign military force into the Maghreb”, in the words of Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra on Tuesday.

Morocco’s foreign ministry bit back saying Algiers’ move was “completely unjustified”.

Morocco ‘regrets’ Algeria’s decision

“Morocco regrets the completely unjustified” decision of neighboring Algeria to break off diplomatic relations, the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said on Wednesday, calling some of Algeria’s reasons absurd.

Algeria cited a series of alleged hostile acts for the cutting of ties when it announced the decision on Tuesday,.

The move was expected...in view of the logic of escalation observed in recent weeks, the Moroccan ministry said in a statement released overnight.

“Morocco categorically rejects the fallacious, even absurd, pretexts underlying it, the statement read.

Morocco and Algeria are allies of Western nations, and their break in relations could complicate diplomacy in the region and beyond. The two countries are important in the fight against extremism in the nearby Sahel region.

France, once the colonial power in both Algeria and Morocco, chose a balanced tone to offend neither side.

Algeria and Morocco are two friends and two essential partners of France, the French Foreign Ministry said. “France remains naturally attached to deepening ties and dialogue between nations of the region to consolidate stability and prosperity. Voices in the Middle East also expressed regret over the rupture in ties.

The Algerian government’s decision culminated a period of growing tension between the North African countries, which are mired in a decades-long feud, with their borders closed to each other.

The Algerian foreign minister notably denounced massive and systematic acts of espionage by Morocco, a reference to allegations that the kingdoms security services used Israeli-made Pegasus spyware against its officials and citizens, official Algerian news agency APS reported. Morocco adamantly denies the allegations.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2021

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