26/08/2020 – Communication Minister and Spokesperson of Algeria’s government Ammar Belhimer has said Morocco is a “neighbor and brother country,” recalling the historic and cultural depth that the two countries share.
When asked about the Morocco-Algeria crisis in an interview with Russia’s state-sponsored Sputnik News, Belhimer said the two countries share a mutual goal: A unified Maghreb.
He said the goal is achievable as long as there is political will from the leaders of the two countries.
“Our destiny is shared in light of the current challenges, especially what the world is experiencing due to the circumstances of the health crisis.”
For the Algerian politician, Algeria does not intend any “attempt to disturb the atmosphere between the brotherly Moroccan and Algerian peoples. The goal is greater than mobilizing energies and arousing enthusiasm to build a strong Maghreb Union.”
Still favoring Polisario
The official, however, was clear that the Algerian state will not abandon its principles of obeying “full respect for international charters and decisions of the international community on the protection of peoples and the consecration of their right to self-determination, as is the case for the Sahrawi question.”
The statement regarding self-determination for Sahrawis indicates that Algeria will continue to oppose Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara through defending Polisario’s independence claims.
Algeria arms, finances, and shelters the separatist Polisario Front in camps in its southernmost Tindouf region. In the area, 90,000 Sahrawis face dire conditions, including malnutrition, disease, and now COVID-19 challenges.
Algeria has long defended Polisario’s claims for independence and its aspirations for a referendum.
Dialogue is approved under conditions
Sputnik also asked the Algerian official about Morocco’s dialogue initiative that King Mohammed VI proposed in 2018.
In multiple speeches, the King called for frank and direct dialogue to break the stalemate between the two countries.
When asked if there might be any possible rapprochement during the coming period, Belhimer said Algeria welcomes “any initiative aimed at building and reuniting, by adopting the method of dialogue and legitimate mechanisms with full transparency.”
He said the dialogue should respect the privacy and sovereignty of each country, without “prejudice to the basic principles of Algerian diplomacy based on non-interference in the internal affairs of any country.”
The statement, however, contradicts hostile statements from some Algerian officials.
In June, spokesman of Algeria’s presidency Belaid Mohand-Oussaid accused the former Moroccan consul in Oran, Aherdane Boutahar, of “spying” in favor of Morocco’s intelligence community.
The hostile statement poured oil on the fire of the crisis between Algeria and Morocco. Tensions between the two have intensified in recent years.
Morocco-Algeria cooperation for Libya?
Sputnik also asked the Algerian minister if there will be any Moroccan-Algerian coordination regarding the conflict in Libya.
He said that the Libya conflict is a “matter that concerns the Libyans alone.”
Belhimer also said security of Libyans equals security in Algeria.
“Algeria blesses and supports all the efforts that bring Libyans together at one table and unite their ranks and preserve their territorial integrity,” he said.
Belhimer stressed that Algeria’s return to the international community and the avoidance of the scourge of terrorism in the region will give a “legitimate impetus to the Maghreb Union.”
Morocco plays a crucial mediation role in the Libyan conflict, aiming to see all parties to the conflict around the same table of dialogue to find a mutually acceptable solution.
Libyan officials from all parties to the conflict have thanked Morocco for its efforts to end the crisis, with others experring readiness to meet parties to the conflict in Rabat for discussion.
Morocco World News
Sahel-Elite (Bamako-Mali) | Image: Communication Minister and Spokesperson of Algeria’s government Ammar Belhimer