Moroccan King Mohammed VI announced his intention to establish “normal relations” with his neighbor Algeria, after years of political tensions between the two countries and the sharp escalation and severing of relations and the recent confrontation between them.
“I look forward to working with the Algerian presidency so that Morocco and Algeria can work hand in hand to establish normal relations,” the king said in a speech on the occasion of the Throne Day, the anniversary of his accession to the rule of Morocco. According to the Moroccan news agency MAP.
This is not the first time that the King of Morocco has invited Algeria to open a new page. In his speech on the anniversary of the Green March towards Western Sahara, and delivered in November 2018, he called on Algeria to open a new page and establish good relations, but the situation was complicated after that and was cut Later relations between the two countries.
In his speech, Mohammed VI described the two countries as “two brotherly peoples, united by history, human ties and a common destiny.”
The king denied allegations that the Moroccans “insulted” Algeria, and said, “I call on Moroccans to continue to display the values of brotherhood, solidarity, and good-neighbourliness, which bind us to our Algerian brothers, whom we assure them that they will always find Morocco and Moroccans on their side, in all circumstances and conditions.”
He added, “As for the allegations, which accuse the Moroccans of insulting Algeria and the Algerians, those who carry them out, in an irresponsible way, want to ignite the fire of strife between the two brotherly peoples.”
He concluded his message on Algeria by saying, “We look forward to working with the Algerian presidency, to put Morocco and Algeria hand in hand, to establish normal relations between two brotherly peoples, united by historical and human ties, and a common destiny.”
Relations between the two neighboring countries in North Africa have been greatly strained during the past months, and Algeria decided in October 2021 not to renew the contract to exploit the gas pipeline that supplies Spain with Algerian gas through Morocco.
The statement of the Presidency of the Algerian Republic attributed the non-renewal to what it called “the aggressive practices of the Kingdom of Morocco.”
A few days later, the situation erupted and almost turned into a military confrontation after Algeria accused Morocco of killing three of its citizens in a military bombing, and threatened to retaliate and avenge them.
Algeria severed diplomatic relations with Morocco on August 24, 2021, against the background of Algeria accusing Rabat of carrying out “hostile acts”, and it also prevented Moroccan military and civilian aircraft from using its airspace.
Morocco responded by severing relations with Algeria in January 2022, and there is still exchange between them and mutual accusations, and each of them blames the other for interfering in many regional and local issues.
Algeria accused Morocco of supporting separatists and Islamic opposition movements inside Algeria, while Rabat resented Algeria’s support for separatists in Western Sahara, which Morocco considers part of its territory.
Western Sahara issue
The question of Western Sahara is one of the most important issues of the Moroccan-Algerian dispute.
Algeria supports the Polisario Front, which seeks independence for Western Sahara. On the other hand, Morocco sees the Sahara as an integral part of its territory.
Algerian-Moroccan relations have been tense for decades due to the Sahara issue.
In a move that Algeria saw as escalatory on the part of Morocco, the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations, Omar Hilale, presented in July 2021 a paper to the members of the Non-Aligned Group calling on them to support what he called “the self-determination of the Kabyle people.”
The Moroccan move came after Algeria announced the start of border demarcation procedures with the Polisario Front.
Morocco signed an agreement with the United States in December 2020, according to which Washington recognizes Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, in exchange for Rabat normalizing its diplomatic relations with Israel.
And Israel entered the crisis line between Morocco and Israel. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid attacked Algeria during his visit to Morocco in August 2021, saying that Algeria had become “closer to Iran” and that it was “launching a campaign against Israel’s admission to the African Union as an observer.”
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