The diplomatic relations between Morocco and Algeria have been strained for decades, with a history of political and territorial disputes. These tensions have created serious obstacles to improving the relationship between the two countries, including closed borders, trade restrictions, and ongoing regional conflicts.
One of the primary obstacles to Moroccan-Algerian diplomatic relations is the Moroccan Sahara conflict. Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975 after Spain withdrew from the territory, leading to a long-standing dispute with the Algerian-backed Polisario Front. Algeria has supported the Polisario Front’s claim for independence, while Morocco has consistently rejected it. This has led to closed borders between the two countries since 1994, making it difficult for people and goods to move freely across the border.
Another obstacle to improving Moroccan-Algerian relations is the broader geopolitical context of the Maghreb region. As two of the largest countries in North Africa, Morocco, and Algeria have often vied for influence in the region, particularly in the context of the Arab Spring uprisings. The two countries have also taken divergent approaches to international relations, with Morocco maintaining close ties to Europe and the United States, while Algeria has historically been more aligned with Russia and China.
Trade restrictions have also been a major obstacle to improving Moroccan-Algerian relations. Algeria has imposed various trade barriers on Moroccan goods, citing concerns about the quality of products and the need to protect domestic industries. In response, Morocco has sought to diversify its export markets, looking to sub-Saharan Africa and other regions to offset the loss of the Algerian market.
Finally, there are historical and cultural tensions that contribute to the difficulties in improving Moroccan-Algerian relations. These include linguistic differences, with Arabic spoken in Morocco and Berber’s languages spoken in Algeria, as well as differing interpretations of Islam, with Morocco following a more moderate form of Sunni Islam and Algeria having a stronger presence of Salafism.
The obstacles to improving Moroccan-Algerian diplomatic relations are numerous and complex, encompassing political, economic, and cultural factors. Addressing these challenges will require a sustained commitment from both sides, as well as greater cooperation and dialogue on regional issues. While progress has been made in recent years, significant work remains to be done to build a more peaceful and prosperous future for the Maghreb region.