Secretary-General of the Arab League (AL) Ahmed Abul Gheit and the Arab Parliament on Tuesday urged Algeria and Morocco to exercise self-restraint after Algerian authorities cut diplomatic relations with Rabat.
Algeria’s Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra announced on Tuesday the cessation of his country’s diplomatic relations with Morocco, saying that history has proven time and again Morocco’s constant hostilities against Algeria.
In the wake of Algeria’s announcement, Morocco expressed its “regret for this decision, which is completely unjustified yet expected given the logic of escalation that has been recognised over the recent weeks.”
The Moroccan foreign ministry added in a statement that “the kingdom will remain trustful and sincere to the Algerian people and will continue to work with wisdom and responsibility in order to develop sound and constructive relations with Algeria.”
In a statement by the Arab League, Abul Gheit voiced his deep regret for the heightened tensions between Algeria and Morocco, urging both Arab countries to avoid further escalation.
Both Algeria and Morocco are essential for joint Arab action, an official from the AL general secretariat said in the statement, hoping that they will restore their good relations to maintain stability in the region.
The Arab Parliament also voiced its utmost concern over the developments in the relations between the two countries.
In a statement, the Arab Parliament called on both countries to prioritise their brotherly ties and work to serve the interests of their peoples.
The Arab Parliament called on the two sides to exercise self-restraint and avert further escalation that could harm bilateral relations.
It urged Algeria and Morocco to engage in constructive dialogue to deescalate tensions and discuss controversial issues within a “brotherly and Arab framework.”
Algeria and Morocco are both “heavyweights” in the Arab and regional system and should continue to bear the responsibility of enhancing Arab solidarity and overcoming differences and schisms, the statement continued.
The Arab Parliament said it is fully confident in the wise leaderships of the two countries and their ability to ride out the current crisis as soon as possible.
The Algerian move to cut ties with Morocco comes after Algeria said it would review its relations with Rabat last week after accusing it of being complicit regarding the deadly forest fires that have been ravaging the Algerian north.
The forest fires in Algeria, which broke out on August 9 amid a blistering heatwave, burned tens of thousands of hectares of forest and killed at least 90 people, including more than 30 soldiers, according to the AFP.
Algeria’s foreign minister on Tuesday also accused Morocco’s leaders of being “responsible for repeated crises” and behaviour that has “led to conflict instead of integration” in North Africa.
Lamamra’s statement, read out on behalf of Algeria’s President Abdel-Madjid Tebboune, said Morocco’s unfriendly, hostile, and despicable acts against his country have started since Algeria’s independence, citing incidents in 1963 and 1976.
Lamamra’s statement also accused Moroccan security and propaganda services of launching a “vile and widespread media war” against Algeria and Algerian people and leaders by “weaving fictional scenarios, creating rumors, and spreading malicious information.”
The Algerian FM also referred to a “dangerous and irresponsible deviation” committed by a Moroccan envoy by addressing what he called “the right of self-determination for the brave tribal people who have been subjected to the longest foreign occupation.”
Algeria demanded clarification from the Moroccan authorities following this incident, Lamamra said, however, “the silence of the Moroccan side in this regard, which has continued since July 16 , clearly reflects the political support [provided] by the highest Moroccan authority for this act.”
The “deviation” in question — that has triggered the current course of action — was a statement given by Morocco’s envoy to the United Nations Omar Hilale in July expressing support for the right to self-determination for Algeria’s traditionally restless Kabylie region, a stronghold of the country’s Amazigh (Berber) minority.
At the time, Algeria’s foreign ministry said Morocco had thus “publicly and explicitly supported an alleged right to self-determination of the Kabyle people.”
Hilale’s comments sparked anger among Algeria’s political class and on social media, with Algerians defending the country’s territorial unity.