Relations between Algeria and its Moroccan neighbor have been difficult, mainly because of the Western Sahara dispute, the long border between the two countries has been officially closed for more than 25 years.
Morocco has accused its neighbor of meddling with its internal affairs by supporting the Western Sahara pro-independence
Africanews talked to Mr. Hichem Ben Yaiche, a geopolitical expert and the Editor in Chief of the New African magazine who warned of dire consequences should the relations deteriorate.
“In fact, in recent months we’ve had increased tension between the two countries. Above all, in reality, Morocco has made the Sahrawi issue its national cause. Actually, a sacred cause for decades. It is at the heart of Moroccan diplomacy, and especially since the last few months, that Morocco has initialized new relations with countries like Israel, and the United States. This has brought up mixed anxiety,” Hichem said.
He added, “does Algeria feel like it is at the heart of a game of this pending the circumstances? Plus what happened in Kabylia with the wildfires? There were questions that needed to be asked for instance was it a plot against Algeria. Even at home, there was an investigation to determine the origin of these fires. But the relationship has been exacerbated and can go very, very far between these two countries. This has led to a break-up between them. This is an extremely serious decision for the region, for both countries, because we are heading to an era where the two countries will be cold to each other and this will further complicate relations.”
Algiers has accused Morocco and Israel of supporting the Movement for the Independence of Kabylia, a pro-independence organization, as well as the Islamo-conservative organization Rachad
“In reality, the issue of Kabylia is a very sensitive subject for Algeria, in particular through the Kabyle independence movement, as it can be manipulated by others, like for instance Israel. Morocco has never risked going to this low because this will bear consequences for both countries and therefore Algeria has reaffirmed its support for Saharawi. Morocco found an opportunity to provoke Algeria on this issue of Kabylia,” Hichem said.
The issue that worries Morocco the most is the possibility of the closure of the Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline, which has been connecting Algerian fields to Europe via the Moroccan kingdom since 1996 and whose contract expires next October.
Hichem warned that the consequences will be heavy because, in reality, one follows the policy of diplomacy and its geographical position, especially for Morocco that has fewer resources.