Home Op-Eds Only France Can Prevent a Morocco-Algeria War from Erupting

Only France Can Prevent a Morocco-Algeria War from Erupting

EU Commends Morocco's Unilateral Withdrawal from Guerguarat Zone

Washington DC – While most North Africans and Europeans observers concur that a Morocco-Algeria War is highly unlikely, Moroccan and Algerian troops keep amassing on the borders.

News report in the Moroccan press talk of the Royal armed forces being in high alert and ready to interpose and of the Algeria backed Polisario remaining in full offensive in the Guerguerat area of the Western Sahara.

Whereas Rabat and the Polisario militia’s actions have been predictable, the state of affairs in Algiers remain ambiguous and volatile. Europe, especially France, can no longer ignore this potentially explosive situation.

Accepting Algiers’s argument that the Western Sahara conflict is a case of decolonization and not a border dispute between Algeria and Morocco is at the root of the European Union (EU) shortcomings in dealing with conflicts in the Maghreb.

The EU role in pushing for the independence of the Western Sahara is a real failing in European policy in North Africa. The European Greens, Communists and some Socialists rage toward Morocco while ignoring Algeria’s abuses in Polisario run Sahrawi camps in Tindouf is a hypocrite standpoint that needs to change.

Putting aside the legal, juridical and political aspects of the Western Sahara dossier, EU has to face the fact that a Moroccan-Algerian war will have catastrophic consequences on Europe. Thus, the European’s indifference to the recent military escalation between the Moroccan army and an Algeria armed militia is worrying.

The EU level of denial is mindboggling given the fact that EU members are well aware of the major role Algeria has played in prolonging the Western Sahara conflict. With military hostilities as a real possibility in the region of the Ghuergarat, French and Spanish military officials should be asking their diplomats and politicians about contingency plans to stop further degradation of the security situation.

The EU’s ambivalence to Algeria’s role in seething the flames of war between Morocco and the Algeria backed Polisario militia   indicates an unprecedented level of negligence. It is no secret that France, and France only can stop the Algerian military plots against Morocco.

For obvious reasons, France holds a critical standing, both politically and militarily, in any path to stop the deteriorating military situation in the Western Sahara. Regrettably, Paris’s attitude has been marked by apathy and indifference. This astonishing stance is unfathomable given the gravity of the conflict and its prospective consequences for Europe’s security and stability.

France bares a major role in keeping peace in the Maghreb. Despite all the complaints and the bad mouthing from Algerian politicians about French meddling in Africa, Paris has been the strongest supporters of the Bouteflika run political system. Since the death of Algerian President Boumediene in 1978, nothing transpires in Algiers without the knowledge and the blessing of French Intelligence services.

The “unseen” collaboration between French intelligence services and the Algerian political elite is the main reason the Bouteflika system has survived without any major coups. Despite the removal and demotion of several key intelligence and military figures who ruled Algeria for years, an incapacitated Bouteflika has been ruling without significant opposition in large part because of French protection.

However, the possibility of a “dead Bouteflika” has pushed some Algerian clans to act erratically trying to score political points. This new reality is making it harder for the French to control their “friends” in key positions, especially in the military. The death of President of Bouteflika may push Algeria to provoke Morocco into a conflict, regardless of French assurances. Hence, now is the time to defuse the tensions.

The hardening of the Polisario positions and  news of shipment of new Algerian arms to the separatist militia are signs of escalation that cannot be ignored. France must muzzle its assets in Algeria or Europe will pay a dear price.

Without taking into account the outcome of several upcoming elections, European citizens will face real security and economic consequences if Morocco and Algeria go to war.

The stability of the Maghreb, especially a calm on the Moroccan-Algerian borders is essential to the security of Europe, which is primarily concerned with illegal immigrations, drugs, and jihadist cells able to reach the continent to commit terrorist acts. The role of both nations in securing European borders is critical and essential.

Terrorist threats, an economic decline and a huge number of refugees and illegal immigrants landing on Italian, Spanish and French coasts are only few of the outcomes an armed conflict in North Africa would yield. This should be a worry to European citizen.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent any institution or entity. 

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