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Morocco-Algeria conflict: Why Washington, Paris and Brussels are looking the other way

By Farid Alilat, Nina Kozlowski
Posted on Friday, 7 January 2022 11:10

The Moroccan-Algerian border, seen from Oujda (in Morocco), in November 2021. FADEL SENNA/AFP © FADEL SENNA/AFP

From the UN to the African Union, the US, France and the European Union, the international community seems to be embarrassed about the historical conflict between Morocco and Algeria.

Three deaths and a threat of armed conflict. On 1 November, the 67th anniversary of the outbreak of the Algerian War of Independence, three Algerian truck drivers, who were travelling between Nouakchott and Ouargla, were killed in an attack that Algiers attributed to Moroccan forces.

Announced two days later in an official statement by the presidency, the news sent shock waves through Algeria and raised tensions between the two neighbours who had already ended diplomatic relations in August. The two armies have not gone up against each other since the battles of Amgala in 1976.

“Cowardly assassination”, “sophisticated weaponry”, “act of state terrorism of extreme gravity”, “assassination that will not go unpunished.” The Algerian authorities have carefully chosen these words in an attempt to internationalise this new episode in the Algerian-Moroccan conflict.

On 4 December, Algiers referred the matter to the UN secretary-general, the president of the African Union (AU) Commission, the secretary-general of the League of Arab States and the secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

A few weeks later, there was radio silence from these institutions. The same is true of Washington, Paris, Brussels and influential Arab capitals, such as Riyadh. The more tensions escalate, the more paralysed these foreign powers, who are in a position to prevent an armed confrontation, seem to be.