Morocco and Algeria are involved in another diplomatic spat after Rabat condemned “provocative” acts and “transgressions” at the opening of a regional football tournament in Algeria.
The North African neighbours are locked in a bitter rivalry over the disputed territory of Western Sahara, where the Algerian-backed Polisario movement seeks an independence referendum.
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Here are the most prominent tensions between the two countries over the past decades:
Algeria and Morocco confronted each other militarily over a border dispute in the so-called Sand War in October 1963 following Algeria’s independence on July 5, 1962. Algeria said it repelled Moroccan ambitions for land on the border, while Rabat said it retaliated against the border provocations of the Egyptian-backed Algerian army.
1969 and 1972:
The two countries signed a two-phase border demarcation and good-neighbourliness treaty in 1969 and 1972 as a culmination of the end of the war and the border dispute.
Rabat announced the severance of diplomatic relations with Algiers in protest against the latter’s decision to join a number of mostly African countries recognising the unilateral decision of the Polisario Front to establish the so-called Sahrawi Arab Republic.
The two countries signed an agreement to normalise relations and restore diplomatic ties following Saudi mediation. The leaders of both countries exchanged visits as a testament to normalisation.
Rabat accused Algerian intelligence of being behind a bombing in the western Moroccan city of Marrakesh and imposed an entry visa requirement on Algerians. Algeria responded by closing its land border with Morocco, which is still in force.
Then-Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika attended the funeral of King Hassan II, who died on July 23, 1999, in Morocco as an attempt to mend the relations between the two Arab countries. However, no significant breakthrough was achieved.
Bilateral relations warmed as Rabat prepared for a visit by the then-Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and his delegation to sign several agreements. But the visit was cancelled at the last minute with Rabat saying the time was not right, a gesture Algeria called an insult.
Moroccan youth organised a protest in front of the Algerian consulate in the northern city of Casablanca against Bouteflika’s statements on human rights in the Sahara region. The protest ended with the burning of the Algerian flag.
The two countries summoned each other’s ambassadors. Algeria also protested against a court ruling that sentenced the man accused of burning the flag to two months in prison.
The Moroccan consul in the western Algerian city of Oran called Algeria an “enemy country”, prompting the Algerian foreign ministry to summon the Moroccan ambassador and to declare the implicated diplomat “persona non grata”.
July 15, 2021:
Morocco’s ambassador to the UN, Omar Hilale, called for the “independence of the Kabyle people” in Algeria during a meeting of non-aligned countries. Algeria recalled its ambassador from Rabat.
July 23, 2021:
The Algerian foreign ministry protested against the authorities of some countries, especially Morocco, using the Israeli spyware programme Pegasus against Algerian officials and citizens. Rabat denied the accusations but Algiers demanded that the former provides evidence.
July 31, 2021:
Moroccan King Mohammed VI urges Algeria to put aside the differences between the two neighbours and open a new page in their relations.
August 8, 2021:
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune says in a statement his country is ready for any dialogue but asked Morocco to first clarify to Algeria its position on the speech of the Moroccan representative at the UN regarding the Kabylie region.
August 11, 2021:
During his visit to Morocco, Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid expressed his country’s concern over Algeria’s role in the region and its great rapprochement with Iran. Algeria accused Rabat of inciting Tel Aviv against it.
August 18, 2021:
The Supreme Security Council in Algeria, headed by Tebboune, accused Morocco of continuing with its “hostile acts” and called for bilateral relations to be reviewed and security monitoring on the western borders to be tightened.
August 24, 2021:
Algerian foreign minister Ramtane Lamamra announced the severing of diplomatic relations with Morocco over what he termed as “successive aggressive steps”. Rabat responded saying the accusations were “false” and that it regretted the decision.
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI called for the restoration of diplomatic ties with Algeria.
Morocco condemned “provocative” acts and “transgressions” at the opening of a regional football tournament in Algeria, at which the grandson of Nelson Mandela made a speech and called for Western Sahara to be “free”.