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Western Sahara: Algeria's Unofficial Declaration of War

Washington  / Morocco Board News Service-    The diplomatic relations between Morocco and Algeria can, candidly, be described as “unique” and “aberrant”. There is nowhere else in the world where a country, in this case Algeria, host, arm and diplomatically support a separatist group that has militarily threatened a neighboring country, in this case Morocco, and yet both countries have diplomatic relations. So, why does Morocco keep its embassy open in Algiers and host an Algerian Ambassador in Rabat?
Earlier this year, the Colombian government reveals evidence of locations of top left wing FARC commandos in hideout camps based in neighbouring country Venezuela. The Colombian reaction was quick and furious. Within days after Colombia’s accusations, Colombian Air Force started circulating over Venezuelan air space looking for the FARC elements. For Colombia, the existence of a hostile group on Venezuelan territory is a declaration of war by Caracas on Colombia.  Bogota and Caracas broke diplomatic relations, almost went into open war but eventually reconcile with a promise to respect each other’s sovereignty. Such approach should be a lesson to the Moroccan diplomacy.

Since 1975, when Morocco liberated the Western Sahara from Spain, the Algerian government has been involved in a proxy war against Morocco over the liberated territory. While The Algerian military and political establishments claim to have no interest in the Western Sahara, they view the conflict as a way to keep Morocco too weak to challenge the Algerians in North Africa by bogging down the Moroccans in a Saharan quagmire.  Although well aware of this obvious Algerian strategy, Morocco kept his counter-attack civil and general. The Algeria backed Polisario front has survived thus far solely on the Algerian support. In other words, all and every action ever taken by the Polisario against Morocco is an Algerian hostile engagement to destabilize Morocco.

Under such circumstances, it is very tricky to understand the logic of a normal diplomatic relations between two countries that have been in a quasi-state of war. In fact, this anomalous situation benefits the Algerians more than the Moroccans.

Algiers has not paid a political price for its support of an armed communist guerrilla, unlike several countries in Central and South America and Asia who suffered during and after the cold war because of similar engagements. Morocco’s understanding and its “good neighbour” diplomacy has not paid good dividend as it is becoming evident today.  Morocco’s flexibility was viewed as sign of weakness. Instead of open dialogue, the Moroccan could have made a legal and permissible argument that Algeria has declared war in Morocco for allowing its territory to be used to attack its neighbour.

 

The Algerian intransigence continues. During a meeting held in the heart of Algeria last month, a Polisario leader stated that his group is ready and willing to resume war against Morocco. Such explosive comments against Morocco form Algeria is declaration of war by the Algerians. No country in the world would accept such irresponsible remarks against its national interest to go unnoticed. The international community must denounce Algeria’s reckless attitude toward the stability and security of North Africa.

Morocco has to expose the extent of the Algerian military involvement in keeping the Western Sahara as a dormant military conflict between the two main belligerents: Morocco and Algeria. Be it a political speech by a Polisario member in Algiers, a Polisario military parade in an Algerian city or a Polisario diplomatic offensive against Morocco, an Algerian backed Polisario action targeting Morocco is an Algerian hostile act against the Kingdom. As such, Morocco maintains the right to reciprocate and act in self-defence.

If the current political and military establishment in Algiers is a holdout from the 1960’s and 70’s, Morocco has a young and much different political team that looks at the Sahara conflict under a different light. Unlike past disagreements with Morocco, The Algerian government must adjust to a new Morocco that is more aggressive in defending the Kingdom’s interests, and willing to take the political fight to wherever it leads. The Algerian military establishment, used to the pace of past tensions, is underestimating the military dangers of an open-ended Western Sahara conflict. The world community may have to adjust its view of the scope of the  threat of an impending open military conflict in North Africa and the hazards it will impose on the security of Europe and the Mediterranean basin.



Author: Hassan Masiky is a native of  Morocco. He graduated from the University of the District of Columbia with a degree in political science in 1991. Upon graduation,Hassan joined the Washington DC based non government organization the Parliamentary Human Rights Foundation (PHRF) where he worked as a consultant for USAID democracy projects in Mexico, Haiti, Republic of Georgia and the European Parliament. After leaving PHRF, Hassan dedicated his time advising Amnesty International USA on African and Middle Eastern affairs and representing the organization in press conferences. Mr. Masiky was a host on several television shows discussing human rights and democracy. He is currently working for a Federal Agency in the Washington area.

Comments (18)  

 
morcelli
0 #1 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Western Sahara: Algeria's Unofficial Declaration of Warmorcelli 2010-11-08 23:39
Let's face it.
Morocco is too weak to do what the Colombians have done.
Colombia has a legit government and the president is elected by the people.
Morocco does not have gaz, it has phosphate controlled by ONA
Morocco wants the sahara but does not take care of saharan, giving them cheap oil and sugar will not do it. they need jobs and democracy.
Moroccan government is run by the fassi government, fasi fihri, fasi this, fasi that.
Algeria is doing what is supposed to do, keep morocco weak because Morocco is allowing it by having corrupt families running the Moroccan government.
Why would Morocco rely on the international community as you said, when was the last time the international community did anything for anyone. Morocco and Algeria bribe the international community to get them to their side, and we are 30/70. 70% support algeria because of cheaper oil.
Not even the US the supposed to be friend of Morocco endorse Morocco, they instead endorse Israel killing the Palestinians.
How about having a legit Moroccan government for change instead of fassi and fassi that?
Morocco had 10 years of break when the Algerians were killing each other to do something to get the international community to side with them as you said, instead they were dormant hoping that boudiaf will hand them the sahara.
Morocco is too weak to declare war on Algeria as Algeria declares war on Morocco every time it receives a polisario.
Algeria saves its money to buy weapons, Morocco borrows money to spend on the fassi families.
I challenge anyone who thinks that the above mentioned is not accurate.


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man en blanc
0 #2 PROBLEMATIC ADULTHHOD.man en blanc 2010-11-09 00:59
When we take inventory of the distance we traveled so far, we can hardly feel any joy from our difficult journey. Or a sense of accomplishment for that matter.

We took "possession"of the Sahara in 1975, fought, disastrously, an Algerian-engine ered guerrilla war until 1991. Then settled for 19 years, and counting, for an uncomfortable stalemate.
These worrisome chains of events add up to 35 years in the life of a country that is only 54 years old!

One has to marvel that Morocco is functioning at all. Maybe our resilience in the face of extraordinary difficulties is the tiny spark of hope that drives the everyday Moroccan to wake up in the morning, grudgingly ready to face the world.
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aes
0 #3 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Western Sahara: Algeria's Unofficial Declaration of Waraes 2010-11-09 02:25
It is easy to be a back-seat driver. Morocco has handled the Sahara affair fairly well given the tenacity of our enemies. The Moroccan flag is flying high in the Sahara. More and more countries are freezing their recognition of RASD. The security council supports Morocco's plan. We do not need a war. It is no-win option. The cost will be too high. The polisario is slowly falling apart. And they have no way out. Status quo or a war they cannot win. And please let us not put down people's hard work. The king and a number of ministers are working hard around the clock to serve their country. Fassi Fihri is one of them and he is a very able man. Degrees, demeanor, ...

A Californian from Marrakesh.
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Toufik
0 #4 Silly Moroccan approachToufik 2010-11-09 05:02
This problem should have been resolved in 1975/76. The moment algeria started arming the polisario to attack morocco, that was the right moment to actually reciprocate directly / indirectly. And in kind. Now, what an algerian ambassador is doing in rabat is beyond comprehension.
And how could any country abandon (for 20 years) 2000 of its soldiers and officers in captivity few miles away in algeria without even trying to liberate them? This must be Morocco. As Moroccan I'm extreeeeeeemly diapointed. Keberha tesrar.
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sahrawi
0 #5 Polisario=Alger iasahrawi 2010-11-09 06:24
You all forgot that at the end of the day is what matters. peace is the key. war never resolve anything. Algeria hate Morocco but if you travel there al you will find is Moroccan goods which is loved. No matter what happens Sahara is Moroccan and will never be given away not to Polisario not to Algeria unless they invade us and kill us and we all know that is never going to happen. So leave things as they are. who cares what the UN says? the UN did not even care about 4 millions of Palestinians ,or Kashmir etc.. to worry about no more than 84.000 sqkm and less than 200.000 people.
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Morcelli
0 #6 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Western Sahara: Algeria's Unofficial Declaration of WarMorcelli 2010-11-09 10:11
"Fassi Fihri is one of them and he is a very able man. Degrees, demeanor, ... "

There are 1000's of Moroccans with degrees who sell "detail" for pocket money.
You know why? because all the good jobs are taken over by the Fassi fihris and alike, not because they are holding degrees but because their sisters, uncles, and aunts interfere for them to get these jobs.

Here, read this piece and you will see your idol fihri's wife does, when no one looking and read what her hubby did to revenge

www.alarabiya.net/articles/2009/07/09/78239.html
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iberkak
0 #7 Close Algerian embassyiberkak 2010-11-09 13:52
I add my voice to all free Moroccans that want the Algerian embassy in Rabat shut down. I am tired of this Arab hypocrisy. Unlike the Algerian media that talk about the "occupation" of the Sahara days and nights and compare the Sahrawis to the Palestinians!, the Venezuelan and Iranian media rarely talk about the issue and yet Morocco cut ties with them. What does Moroccan government benefit from having its ambassador in Algiers?
Morocco should change the tone on the autonomy. Taking it out of the table would let the the Sahrawis inside and in Algeria desire it more, specially when they realize that is the most they can get away with.
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ram
0 #8 Morocco is a brave countryram 2010-11-09 19:57
Morocco will never surrender to Algeria. We have spent millions of dollars on the sahara and we are still improving the situation of the saharian people. What algeria have done to the south of Morocco? nothing. polisario camps in algeria lack the normal needs like water and houses. The condition of the saharians in algeria is miserable. The UN has onfirmed my declaration after visiting those camps. We were the only country that faced Spain and had them leave sahara. Algeria never spoke about the brave Moroccans and their challenge to the spanish army! so here we have all the sacrifices we have done. facing a dangerous country like spain known of its bloody wars, spending money on a land that is dry and still considered a disputed land, and facing terrorism from our neighbor algeria that only wants a piece of that atlantic ocean.
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ram
0 #9 WORLD WAR 3?ram 2010-11-09 20:54
Morocco fights algeria. USA backs Morocco! France backs Algeria. UK backs Morocco and USA. Germany backs Algeria and France. Japan backs Morocco, USA and UK. China backs Algeria, france and germany. Iran will back the algerian group. Israel will back the Moroccan group. I wonder where Russia will go? dont be surprised! everything is possible!
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morocelli
0 #10 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Western Sahara: Algeria's Unofficial Declaration of Warmorocelli 2010-11-10 03:31
Everywhere you read, Morocco is made to be the devil. They have few thugs taking over the airways and the news wires. The Polisario so called secretary of state composed an email calling Morocco genocidal and sent it to every news organization in the world from South Arica to Australia. Moroccans lost more lives than the polisario and they are on the defensive, and we are here, watching morocco being slaughtered in the media because couple of polisario thugs supported by algeria are doing much better job.
What can I say? la ilaha illa allah!
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aes
0 #11 Win some lose some.aes 2010-11-10 04:49
"There are 1000's of Moroccans with degrees who sell "detail" for pocket money. "

Agree we need to find them better jobs. But let us not make them foreign ministers.
I think Moroccans are harsh with the government. They expect to win every battle.
We have won the main battle. Our forces are stationed in the Sahara. The Moroccan
flag is flying high. These desperate skirmishes by the enemy will not change that.
We will win some and we will lose some. But let us keep our eyes on the ball and
ignore petty stuff like a couple of wives having a fist fight in
a "Hammam." This is neither the time not the place.
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Aziz El Alami
0 #12 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Western Sahara: Algeria's Unofficial Declaration of WarAziz El Alami 2010-11-10 04:56
@ Morcelli – I just came back from an extended trip to South East Asia... Glad to be back… I missed reading your posts… You never make any sense but you always manage to crack me up :-)

If Morocco wants to earn international support for its Sahara cause, it needs to borrow a page from the current Republican Party… They really know how to win the “Hearts & Souls” of just about anybody with their carefully chosen slogans and organized media campaigns…
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Belkhir
0 #13 The biggest Tagine in the WorldBelkhir 2010-11-10 07:41
That's what we get from unelected officials who are good at one thing: raping the Government's coffers and at cooking the biggest tagine,berma,gh ese3a etc

It's sad to say that we have Zero leaders who can take charge and mobilize Moroccan abroad to protest in front of Alkherian Embassies,front of the UN, and also mobilize a million or two toward Lae3youn for a bigger March for the whole world to see.
Why not even release all prisoners and drop them off the border or Alkheria.

I believe that All those unelected suckers in Le3youn should be held accountable to allowing the the situation to escalate int he first place. I believe thta we should expel any Alkherian official from the country, and even fly over their capital if we have to.
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moro yankee
0 #14 it's time for algeria to disappear from the face of earth, periodmoro yankee 2010-11-10 08:55
algeria has been the source of problems in morocco and it's sahara for along time , now if moroccans are courageious as they pretend to be, this is threir chance to do it right, once on for all, sooner or later morocco and algeria will have a head on colision, do the math, it's coming it's just a question of when.
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Afrique du Nord
0 #15 AlgerienAfrique du Nord 2010-11-10 09:30
Come on! Algerians and Moroccans are friends. As an Algerian, I like and respect my Moroccan brethren. I feel sorry for the haters. I hope that along with Tunisia and Libya that an amazing social and economic relationship will develop soon. 'One' army too, to stave off the enemies of peace and prosperity, like the losers and arms dealers that plague this board. Peace and trust, and education, and an end to all this b.s. will bring economic integration and prosperity=jobs =health=happine ss to North Africa. the leaders need to sit down and work this out intelligently. The discord is preventing millions of good people in Algeria and Morocco from being better. This problem needs to be resolved peacefully and quickly - and this is the opinon of the majority of N. Africans and the world.
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valerie
0 #16 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Western Sahara: Algeria's Unofficial Declaration of Warvalerie 2010-11-13 04:56
Tell the people in Western Sahara that they have been liberated! Kill them, destroy their homes, subjugate them . . They don't seem to realise that they have been liberated. I wonder why??? could it be that they don't want to be Moroccan? And who would . . . . Morocco is now doing what the rest of Europe did for years. Take countries that do not belong to them in order to exploit the resources and the people. OK, europe did it for years. Now it's Morocco's turn to do the same. . rape, pillage, murder, exploit. So does that make you better than the rest of the world? Why doesn't Morocco allow the free press of the world to enter Western Sahara and tell the truth about what is happening to the people there? why keep secret your wonderful lib eration????
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obori
0 #17 Activists not journalists that are not welcomeobori 2010-11-15 06:16
Valerie,
Don't compare Morocco to European colonialists. Western Sahara region was part of Morocco in the past and you can't ignore that. Sahrawis are Arabs and Muslims just like the Moroccans in the north unlike the Europeans that are Christians. This makes it an Arab/Muslim issue. When all Arabs and Muslim countries are not against Moroccan territorial integrity except Algeria, you have no reason to believe the opposite. Morocco does not make even the fifth of what it spends in the Sahara. Pro polisario activists in Spain and the Algerian regime will not dictate how the Moroccan map should look like. Stop giving false hopes to the Sahrawis. You need to kill Millions of Moroccans for tens of thousand of Sahrawis that some of them don't want to be Moroccans. Sahrawis are free to live anywhere else. After all, they were just nomads before Morocco came and built cities there. They could also live in the Algerian Sahara.. It is 5 times bigger than Morocco's including the WS region. Millions of tourists visited Morocco last year and few visited the Sahara region. The only journalists that are not welcome are the activists from Spain, Cuba... that are biased.
Having another failed state in the Sahara is not a good option for Europe. Work for unity..
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Amazigh- Miss tmurth.
0 #18 Wherever there is occupation, there will be a resistance. period!!Amazigh- Miss tmurth. 2010-12-09 04:37
Wherever there is occupation, there will be a resistance. everybody knows that!!
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