Civil society calls for de-escalation of tension between Morocco and Algeria

Important petition just a few days before the Moroccan local, regional and legislative elections take place
Moroccan and Algerian flags in Saidia, on the border between the two countries

AFP/FADEL SENNA  -   Moroccan and Algerian flags in Saidia, on the border between the two countries

The latest political clash between two current North African rivals, Morocco and Algeria, triggered by Algeria's announcement on 24 August of a break in relations between the two countries, has generated worrying diplomatic and political tension. In the face of this worrying scenario, voices have emerged calling for an end to the confrontation and a calming of the situation.

Thus, part of both Moroccan and Algerian civil society has called for an end to this escalation of tension between the two Maghreb nations.

Along these lines, around 250 intellectuals and prominent personalities have signed a manifesto in which they appeal to reason addressed to political leaders and public opinion itself. 

Despite the various political disputes that exist between the two states (including the highly relevant issue of Western Sahara), the signatories of the manifesto oppose such a head-on confrontation between two neighbouring North African countries. Thus, Fouad Abdelmoumni, a Moroccan economist and one of the signatories of this appeal, acknowledged that the civil societies of Morocco and Algeria have not been up to the task, but affirmed that a first step is now being taken towards mobilisation aimed at calming the situation: "The essential element, for us, is to break this symphony that is played on both sides of the borders, in which each denigrates the other, in which each demonises the other, and in which each leads its population to hatred of the other."

Banderas Marruecos Argelia

This current of opinion rejects militarism, confrontation and regional division. "When we have concrete, forceful, collective, coherent and convincing proposals, we will be able to lead a great mobilisation at the Maghreb level, to counteract the powers that are leading us to confrontation today. We are at war, and in any case to the enormous waste of our means and our resources", said Abdelmoumni, in words reported by RFI. 

Fouad Abdelmoumni pointed out that in this appeal, the signatories call on civil society in both countries to act quickly to put an end to the escalation of tension. He added that this symbolic act will be followed by others to address the thorny issues that cause the division between the two Maghreb countries.

In this way, an appeal has been launched to bring the Moroccan and Algerian peoples together. 

"We reject the current situation which could lead to an unnatural confrontation, a confrontation which is nothing but a negation of the deep history of our region, which goes against the interests of the two peoples and the whole region", stated the manifesto signed by intellectuals and activists from Morocco and Algeria, including Tunisia, and presented at a press conference which was held in person and virtually. 

Banderas Marruecos Argelia

For his part, the Moroccan Berber activist, Ahmed Assid, proposed holding meetings between the elites of Morocco and Algeria to promote understanding between the two countries. For his part, Bencheikh Madjid, a university law professor in Algeria, denounced that the rulers in both countries "have a spirit of domination in the region that harms the interests of the two peoples". "This rupture is a catastrophe, what will happen if new incidents arise between the two countries," lamented Algerian economist Lakhdari Djaffa, also reported by the EFE news agency. 

Algeria announced on 24 August that it was breaking off relations with Morocco after accusing the latter of supporting the Kabylia separatist movement (MAK) and of being behind the Israeli foreign minister's statements accusing Algiers of being an accomplice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, often accused of destabilising the Middle East with its belligerent and interventionist policy in other countries. 

It is now a matter of seeking a point of understanding for rapprochement between Morocco and Algeria. This could be an important turning point, especially in view of the major political episode that awaits on 8 September, when local, regional and parliamentary elections will be held in the Alawi kingdom for the first time in history.