Algeria tensions with Morocco

Mauritania denies alleged attacks on three Algerian truckers

PHOTO/ARCHIVO  -   Border crossing point between Algeria and Morocco

Morocco and Algeria are going through one of their most complicated episodes. In the critical diplomatic situation that both countries have been going through since last August, following Algeria's unilateral rupture, Algeria has accused Morocco of having killed three Algerian civilians after mistaking them for members of the Polisario Front. 

According to Algeria, the alleged killings took place in a bombing of three truck drivers in an area of Western Sahara. The trucks were allegedly travelling from Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, to the town of Ouargia in Algeria, a route that forced them to pass through an area of Western Sahara controlled by the Polisario Front.  

In a statement issued by the office of the Algerian presidency, they declared that the three Algerians were "cowardly killed by a savage bombardment of their trucks". Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has said that this "assassination" will not go unpunished, thus heating up an atmosphere that is beginning to take on warlike tones. Despite the accusation against Morocco, Algeria has not specified the exact location of the attacks. 

PHOTO/ARCHIVO - The President of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune

Similarly, the Mauritanian army denied any accusation that the attack had taken place within its territory. Morocco then stressed that the kingdom "has never attacked and will never attack Algerian citizens, whatever the circumstances and whatever the provocations". 

Moroccan officials told AFP that "if Algeria wants war, Morocco does not. It will never be dragged into a spiral of violence and regional destabilisation" and points out that these accusations "are gratuitous". 

These accusations also coincide with the recent departure of Algeria from the UN negotiating tables on Western Sahara, a behaviour which Morocco denounced after pointing out that Algeria's departure "obstructed the negotiation processes".  

AFP/FADEL SENNA - Border crossing point between Morocco and Mauritania at Guerguerat in Western Sahara on 24 November 2020, following the intervention of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces in the area.

Subsequently, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Algeria to return to the negotiating table in order to "resume the political process". However, Algeria has not made any statement on the matter. In this context, international analysts claim that Algeria wants to hold Morocco responsible for "hypothetical actions" in order to justify a direct confrontation with Rabat.  

They also point out that this event is part of an Algerian strategy to try to damage Morocco, especially at the current time following the closure of the GME pipeline that previously supplied gas to Spain and Portugal via Morocco. Following this closure, Morocco has been hit hard, especially economically, as the kingdom is estimated to lose some 200 million dollars. 

Following the closure of the GME, Algeria has promised Spain that contracts will be maintained and supplies will continue through the Medgaz pipeline, an undersea natural gas pipeline linking Algeria and Spain.