“Algeria has decided to sever diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Morocco as of August 24,” Algerian Foreign Minister Ramdan Lamamra told a news conference, accusing the neighboring kingdom of “hostile actions.” Although the termination of diplomatic relations has already taken effect, consulates in each country will nevertheless remain open, Ramtane Lamamra said. Algeria is considering suspending air traffic with Morocco, according to the newspaper Algérie Patriotique.
Algeria accused Rabat (capital of Morocco) of threatening stability and security at the instigation of Israel. Morocco is increasing its military presence on the borders, and some regional observers have assessed that tensions could lead to military clashes.
Morocco’s foreign ministry said it regretted the “unjustified decision” and said it would remain a “reliable and loyal partner” to the Algerian people.
Relations between Algeria and Morocco have been tense for the past few decades, with the border between the countries closed since 1994. One of the reasons for the tensions is disagreement over Western Sahara: Morocco considers this territory its own, and Algeria has supported the Polisario Front for decades, insisting on the establishment of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). This dispute is also reflected in the current history of the breakdown of diplomatic relations: Algeria has also accused official Rabat of failing to honor its bilateral commitments on the Western Sahara issue.
Further escalation of tensions between the two states over this issue largely occurred late last year for two reasons. In November, after years of relative quietness, the pro-independence Polisario Front announced that it was re-arming. In December 2020, the United States recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Saharain exchange for improved relations between Rabat and Israel. The problem of Western Sahara is now challenging to solve, as both countries have strong positions. Algeria’s capacity to assist Polisario Front remains. This conflict will last for many years, and this should be the starting point.
Moreover, in mid-August, Algeria accused Morocco of “supporting two terrorist movements” operating on Algerian territory: the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylia (MAK) and the opposition Rashad movement. Algerian authorities believe the activists of these organizations were involved in the forest fires last month in northern Algeria. These fires have already killed about 90 people, and the country’s government has repeatedly claimed that arson was the cause of the disaster.