Monday, 11 November 2013
Morocco's latest spat with Algeria
Moroccan-Algerian relations appear to be returning to normal following their recent spat over the Western Sahara. A senior government official announced on 4 November that Morocco's ambassador to Algiers, Abdallah Belkaziz, had returned to the Algerian capital and was set to resume work on the same day.
He had been recalled to Rabat the previous week following President Bouteflika's provocative speech over Morocco's abuse of human rights in the Western Sahara occupied territories in suppressing the “peaceful struggle” of the Sahrawi people for freedom of expression and association.
The official stressed that the ambassador had only been recalled for consultations and had not been withdrawn, adding that Morocco "will always take measures against those who try to touch its territorial integrity." Referring to an incident last week, in which a Moroccan protester tore down the flag from Algeria's consulate in Casablanca, he said the authorities had been "firm" and the perpetrator was under arrest. But the official denied that Morocco had made an "apology" over the incident.
Ugly scenes had developed outside Algeria's consulate in Casablanca on Friday 1 October as Moroccans, egged on by their own government, protested against President Bouteflika's provocative comments over the Western Sahara. A number of other protests against Algeria were staged around the country and most notably in Rabat and Oujda. In what can only be explained as retaliatory action, Algeria arrested dozens of Moroccans living within its borders on alleged espionage and drug-trafficking charges.
Who gets the last word in before US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives on the scene (see below) is still up for grabs. So far, it is with King Mohamed VI, who, in his speech on Wednesday 6 November to mark the 38 th anniversary of the occupation of the Western Sahara, accused Algeria of systematic violations of human rights in Tindouf Sahrawi refugee camps.
For more news and expert analysis about Algeria, please see Algeria Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.
© 2013 Menas Associates