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Morocco definitively breaks off relations with Algeria

The resignation of Morocco's ambassador to Algeria is evidence of the total rupture of relations between the two countries
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PHOTO/ARCHIVO  -   Border crossing point between Algeria and Morocco

The Alawite kingdom has definitively broken off diplomatic relations with Algeria. After six months of waging a major diplomatic crisis following the unilateral rupture by Algiers, the kingdom has decided to put an end to its attempt to reconcile with its neighbour by terminating the functions of its ambassador.

The Moroccan diplomatic representative in Algeria, Mohamed Ait Ouali, has thus ended his functions, according to a communiqué from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This decision comes in a context in which "the lack of means" to restructure neighbourly relations between the two countries has become evident, highlighting the total estrangement between them. 

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AFP PHOTO / FUENTE / PALACIO REAL DE MARRUECOS -  Moroccan King Mohammed VI, with his brother Prince Moulay Rachid (R) and his son Crown Prince Moulay Hassan (L), delivers a speech to mark the anniversary of the King and People's Revolution in the city of al-Hoceima.

Last August the Algerian Foreign Minister, Ramtane Lamamra, confirmed Algeria's diplomatic rupture with Morocco, arguing that the cause was 'a combination of circumstances'. Although the Moroccan king, Mohammed VI, has tried to reach out to his neighbouring country, Algeria rejected possible reconciliation proposals to further forge an abrupt rift.

Following the Algerian government's announcement, the two countries have been engaged in a major escalation of tension that reached its peak last September when the Algerian authorities closed Algerian airspace to Moroccan aircraft.

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PHOTO/AFP  - Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra Lamamra said his country has severed diplomatic relations with Morocco because of its "hostile actions".

However, the main cause of the crisis that marks the distance between Morocco and Algeria is the Western Sahara conflict, as Algiers has proven to be an ally of the Polisario Front. For his part, Algerian President Abdeljamid Tebboune expressed his concern after Morocco showed its support at the UN for the independence movement of the Kabyle tribes by supporting "the Kabyle people's right to self-determination".

After announcing the closure of airspace, Algeria took aim at one of Morocco's key sectors: tourism. In this respect, the Algerian country's loss of influence in the UN and its loss in the diplomatic arena could have led to this decision in order to damage its economy.

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PHOTO/ Presidencia argelina vía AP -  This photo provided by the Algerian Presidency shows Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, left, visiting Brahim Ghali in his hospital bed in Algiers, Wednesday, June 2, 2021.

Along these lines, both Morocco and Algeria are engaged in a kind of diplomatic and arms race to assert their influence in North Africa. On the one hand, the Alawi kingdom has begun to establish cooperative relations with Israel, especially in the defence and intelligence sector, in order to be able to defend itself against a possible attack. In addition, diplomatic support from the United States and its subsequent recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara provides strong support.

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REUTERS/VITALY NEVAR  - S-400 "Triumph" surface-to-air missile system after its deployment at a military base outside the city of Gvardeysk, near Kaliningrad, Russia, 11 March 2019.

On the other hand, Algeria is trying to expand its influence in countries such as Mali, taking advantage of the imminent withdrawal of French troops from Malian soil. Thus, its assiduous diplomacy with countries such as Russia serves as a back-up for Algeria to try to create followers in different African countries. Moreover, Algeria has reportedly redoubled its efforts to obtain the new Russian anti-missile system, the S-500, which is expected to enter service this year.

In this context, Algeria has positioned itself as the world's third largest importer of Russian arms, which means that a high percentage of its arsenal comes from Russia.