The majority of Moroccans hope for the reopening of borders with Algeria for better integration of the Arab Maghreb Union.
Rabat – The Moroccan Institute for Policy Analysis (MIPA) announced that 89% of Moroccans want the reopening of borders with Algeria. The report came at a press conference in Rabat on February 24.
MIPA conducts an annual “Maghreb Integration Report” to analyze the perceptions of the Maghreb population.
The study is based on interviews with 1,200 people from different demographics across Morocco, between October 15 and December 30, 2019.
The poll results also reported that the Maghreb region is one of the least unified in the world, on both a political and the economic level.
According to a study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the five Maghreb Union countries (Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya), spend around $16 billion annually to secure their borders.
The analysis also showed that 83% of the people who participated in the poll, consider the ongoing tension between Morocco and Algeria to be among the main obstacles to cohesion in the region.
Algeria is the main supporter and financer of the Polisario Front, a breakaway group claiming independence in Morocco’s region of Western Sahara. Algeria provides arms to the Polisario and hosts the group in Tindouf.
In 1994, Morocco introduced visa requirements for Algerians, after police found that bombing at the Atlas Asni Hotel in Marrakech was led by Algerian terrorists.
Algeria responded to Morocco’s decision with the official closure of the borders.
Although Morocco lifted the visa requirement for Algerians in 2004, the borders remained closed.
In the 2019 Throne Day speech, King Mohammed VI called for a dialogue with Algeria with the purpose of breaking the stalemate currently hindering the Maghreb unity project.
In the same speech, the King said that Morocco is sincerely committed to the “policy of the outstretched hand towards our Algerian brothers, out of loyalty to the bonds rooted in brotherhood, religion, language, and good-neighborliness that have always existed between the people of the two sister nations.”
Both Moroccan and Algerian activists and football fans have been standing with the goal of opening borders between the two countries, and seize the occasion of football matches to call for the opening of the borders, whether in stadiums or in the dividing fence in the border town of “Zouj Bghal.”
In December 2019, the Secretary-General of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), Taieb Baccouche, called for reopening the borders between the Maghreb nations to “accelerate Maghreb unity.”