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Algeria breaks off relations with Morocco, citing fires and Israel

By Jeune Afrique

Posted on August 25, 2021 13:37

Ramtane Lamamra, Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ramtane Lamamra, Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs © Louiza AMMI for JAMG

During a press conference held late afternoon on Tuesday August 24, Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra officially announced the break of diplomatic relations with the neighbouring country Morocco, accused of “hostile actions”.

On August 20, the Algerian presidency indicated its intention to “review its relations” with Rabat. At issue: alleged responsibility for the fires that ravaged part of the country. Algeria believes the Movement for Autonomy of Kabylia (MAK) is implicated. Algiers believes it to be supported by “Morocco and the Zionist entity”

This last reference refers to the recent normalisation of diplomatic relations between Rabat and Tel Aviv, which Ramtane Lamamra cited as one of the grievances during his conference. Speaking at the Club des Pins in Algiers and reading a statement from President Tebboune, the head of the Algerian diplomacy said that his country had “been patient regarding Morocco’s actions,” but deplored the Kingdom’s support for the admission of Israel as an observer member of the African Union; a decision that “all North African states [had] opposed”.

The minister also denounced what he called “the dual speak of Moroccan discourse,” referring to the July standoff with Moroccan ambassador to the UN Omar Hilale. “Was the Moroccan ambassador speaking at the UN committing just himself or the Moroccan state?”, asked Lamamra. “In his speech on 31 July, the king did not answer our question.”

“I cannot predict what will happen in the future, but I hope the reasons [for this decision] will soon become obvious,” the Algerian chief diplomat continued, adding that nevertheless “the consulates will continue their work [and that] the break in relations will not affect Algerians residing in Morocco or Moroccans residing in Algeria.”

Does this announcement change much?

The situation has been very tense between Algiers and Rabat for several years, and particularly since the Polisario Front, based in Algerian territory, announced in November 2020 the breakdown of the cease-fire and the resumption of hostilities against Morocco.

Apart from trade, which continues, political, diplomatic and security relations between the two neighbors have long been comatose. As for the land borders, they have been closed for 27 years.

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