2 North African countries experiencing recurring souring of ties since 1963
Algeria has decided on Tuesday to sever relations with its neighbor Morocco, accusing Rabat of having “hostile tendencies” towards it.
The country took a similar step towards its western neighbor in 1976.
Here is a list of the most prominent stages of the recurring tensions between the two countries over the past decades:
Algeria and Morocco militarily confronted each other 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 responded saying 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-neighborly 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 of the latter’s decision to join a number of mostly African countries recognizing the unilateral decision of the Polisario Front to establish the so-called Sahrawi Arab Republic.
The two countries signed an agreement to normalize relations and restore diplomatic ties following Saudi mediation. The leaders of both countries exchanged visits as a testament to normalization.
Rabat accused the Algerian intelligence of being behind a terrorist bombing in the southwestern Marrakesh city and imposed an entry visa requirement on Algerians. Algeria responded by closing its land border with Morocco which is still in force to date.
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. No significant breakthrough was, however, achieved.
The bilateral relations warmed up as Rabat was preparing for a visit by the then-Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and his delegation to Rabat to sign several agreements. But the visit was canceled at the last minute with Rabat saying the time was not right, a gesture Algeria protested as an insult.
Nov. 1, 2013:
Moroccan youth organized a protest in front of the Algerian Consulate in the northern Casablanca city against Bouteflika’s statements on human rights in the Sahara region which ended with the burning of the Algerian flag.
The two countries exchanged summoning ambassadors. Algeria also protested 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 calls during a meeting of non-aligned countries for the “independence of the Kabyle people” in Algeria. Algeria summoned its ambassador from Rabat for consultations and asked for clarifications.
July 23, 2012:
The Algerian Foreign Ministry protests against the authorities of some countries, especially Morocco, using the Israeli spy program 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 neighbors and open a new page in their relations.
Aug. 8, 2021:
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune says in a statement his country is ready for any dialogue, but asked Morocco to first respond to Algeria’s request for clarifications regarding Rabat’s position on the speech of its representative at the UN regarding the Kabylie region.
Aug. 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.
Aug. 18, 2021:
The Supreme Security Council in Algeria, headed by Tebboune, accused Morocco of continuing with its “hostile acts” and called on the bilateral relations to be reviewed and the security monitoring on the western borders to be tightened.
Aug. 24, 2021:
Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra announced the severance of diplomatic relations with Morocco over what he termed as “successive aggressive steps.” Rabat responded saying the accusations were “false” and that it regreted the decision.
“When ties are severed, this is followed by a review of all relations, and checking what is to be canceled and what is to be kept,” Lamamra said.
Relations between the two neighboring countries have strained for decades against the backdrop of the disputed Sahara region between Rabat and the Algeria-backed Polisario Front.
* Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar in Ankara