The Algerians launched a new initiative calling for opening borders between their country and Morocco.
Rabat – Algerian intellectuals launched an initiative, in the form of a petition, reiterating their call for the official reopening of the Moroccan-Algerian borders, and the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The initiative comes after Algeria’s victory at the 2019 African Cup of Nations (CAN). The Moroccan-Algerian borders witnessed a unique situation when thousands of Moroccans flocked to the borders to celebrate the victory of the Algerian national football team.
The initiative aimed to convey the aspirations of these joint celebrations to the leaders of both countries.
During CAN’s matches, Algerians and Moroccans had also launched a virtual campaign on social media under the hashtag “KhawaKhawa” (brothers). Fans of both teams actively reacted to the campaign and attended matches to encourage and support the other team.
According to Panora Post, the signatories of the petition affirmed that the current popular movement in Algeria was decisively in favor of the initiative. They indicated that it is high time politicians ended the ongoing icy diplomatic relations between the two governments.
Panora Post reported that Algerian writer and signatory of the petition, Said Hadef, stressed that “the idea came in the context of previous calls for the opening of borders on various occasions”.
It was also “the culmination of recent calls by Algerian civil society to establish Algerian-Moroccan relations open to creative cooperation,” he added.
As for the initiative’s future, Hadef said that “the problem arises from the elite’s failure and inaction in accomplishing its task.”
Hadef pointed out that “the political class’ weakness and its mismanagement of political affairs in both countries result from the superficiality of the role of the cultural elite and its ignorance of the local and regional state of affairs.”
Start of conflict
The land borders between Morocco and Algeria have been closed since 1994 following the bombing at the Atlas-Asni Hotel in Marrakech, on August 24 of the same year.
A commando of two armed men fired shots in the air, took the hotel’s money and targeted a small group of tourists in the lobby. Two Spaniards were killed and a French woman seriously injured. The perpetrators had French-Algerian origins.
Investigations conducted by the Moroccan authorities showed that several similar attacks were planned on the same day in Tangier, Fez, Casablanca, and Marrakech.
Morocco, suspecting the involvement of Algeria’s secret services, imposed visas on all Algerian nationals. Algeria responded by completely closing the land border (the air border remains open) between the two countries.
The situation worsened with the two countries’ conflict over Western Sahara. Algeria financially and politically supports the Polisario front’s claims against Morocco’s territorial integrity. Morocco has consistently called for Algeria to be recognized as a full-fledged party to the conflict, while Algeria casts itself as an observer.
In 2007, Morocco proposed an Autonomy Plan to solve the conflict over Western Sahara. Since then the Plan received the support of the UN Security Council considering it a “serious and credible” solution the decades-long regional conflict.
Several countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, kuwait, Bahrain, Senegal, Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire, Jordan, Sudan, UAE, and Peru, to name just a few, have expressed their support of Morocco’s Plan.