Thursday, 29 March 2012

Algeria: Moroccan border open 'sooner or later'

Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia has confirmed that the border with Morocco is to open in due course, but warned against “declarations which would destroy the attempts at rapprochement”, an allusion to suggestions in the press that Algeria and Morocco do not agree on the precise delineation of the frontier.

Describing progress in negotiations between Algerian and Moroccan counterparts as “excellent”, Ouyahia denied that Algeria was making the disputed status of Western Sahara a condition of re-opening the border. The conflict “is in the hands of the UN, but it remains a matter of principle for Algeria”, he told El Khabar in an interview. “Algeria is not in total agreement with what our Moroccan brothers proposed but, thanks be to God, our brothers think that the matter needs to be handed to the UN, and we agree with them on that.”

His comments make clear Algeria's intention to put the Western Sahara conflict to one side to establish better ties with Morocco. As the region changes, Algeria's interests are shifting too, and the need to avoid being isolated in a Maghreb where the old order has been swept aside is coming to the fore. The long-standing ideological attachment to the right to self-determination for the Sahrawi people and support for their independence movement, the Polisario Front, is not over, but it is set to one side for now.

For more news and expert analysis about Algeria, please see Algeria Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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