"I am Algerian, and I'm telling you that it is a Moroccan territory,”
Rabat – The French-Algerian lecturer and essayist Idriss Aberkane has recognized the “Morocanness” of Western Sahara.
In a video he posted on his YouTube channel on May 14, the academic said, “Western Sahara is a Moroccan territory, whatever we say.”
“I am Algerian, and I’m telling you that it is a Moroccan territory,” he argued.
Aberkane said if Algeria believes it should continue to challenge Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, then the Algerian government should also give up its southern Sahara to Touaregs.
The Touaregs, nomadic Berber people, live throughout the Sahara desert in North Africa, including in parts of Algeria, Libya, Mali, Chad, and Niger.
Aberkane also argued that both Algeria and Morocco should overcome the tension between them and invest in cooperation, given the assets and diverse economy each country has.
The Algerian-born lecturer’s statement comes amid repeated hostile statements and remarks from Algerian officials to challenge Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Algeria supports Polisario’s independence claims over the territory but argues it is not really a party to the conflict and is instead an “observer.”
Algeria also refuses to participate fully in the UN-led political process although it shelters and finances the Polisario Front in the Tindouf camps.
In the video, Aberkane went on talking about the Moroccan-Algerian border, comparing it with the line between North and South Korea. He sees the closure of the border as reminiscent of World War II.
“Algeria must think like a 21st century country,” said Aberkane.
In addition, Algeria must focus on the future and reconciliation with Morocco.
The tension between the two countries goes beyond the Western Sahara conflict.
In 1994, Morocco introduced visa requirements for Algerians after police found that Algerian terrorists were behind the bombing at the Atlas Asni Hotel in Marrakech. Algeria responded to Morocco’s decision by closing the border.
Although Morocco lifted the visa requirement for Algerians in 2004, the borders remained closed.
Morocco has long extended a hand of friendship to Algeria, even before President Tebboune, who was less open to the idea of a rapprochement, came to power.
Following the election of Abdelmajid Tebboune in December 2019, King Mohammed VI sent a message of “heartfelt congratulations” to him, calling for a “new page in relations between the two neighboring countries, based on mutual trust and constructive dialogue.”
Tebboune‘s government, however, have not reciprocated.
“There have been events that have caused the borders to close. In my opinion, the main cause of the conflict must be removed and everything else will follow,” the Algerian president said in December 2019.
Algeria has also been opposing the diplomatic gains made by Morocco with relation to the Western Sahara conflict
The series of inaugurations of African diplomatic missions in Laayoune and Dakhla in the disputed territory led the Algerian Foreign Ministry to issue statements contesting the openings.
The ministry claimed, “This measure of exceptional gravity represents a flagrant violation of the norms of international law… It represents an attack on the rules and principles that should govern inter-African relations.”
After Cote d’Ivoire opened its consulate in Laayoune on February 18, Algeria recalled its ambassador from Cote d’Ivoire “for consultation.”