On the 22nd of September Algeria’s presidency announced that it would close its airspace to all Moroccan civil and military aircrafts. The decision was made by Algeria’s supreme security council and comes after what the Presidential statement described as ‘’continued provocations and hostile practices on the Moroccan side’’. An official for Algeria’s foreign ministry further states that Algeria is not ruling out the possibility of adopting ‘’additional measures’’ against Morocco.
The decision to close its airspace to Moroccan aircrafts comes a month after Algeria’s government decided to sever all diplomatic relations with Morocco. Algeria’s Foreign Minister Ramdane Lamamra stated on the 24th of August that they would cut diplomatic relations due to ‘’continued provocations and hostile practices on the Moroccan side’’. Morocco’s foreign minister has called the decision to end diplomatic relations unjustified.
Morocco’s support of the Kabylie region
Relations between Morocco and Algeria have been deteriorating after statements by the Moroccan envoy at the United Nations, Omar Hilal, about the Kabylie region in Algeria. During a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement, Hilal called for the right of self-determination for the people in the Kabylie region. As a response, Rabat recalled its ambassador from Algiers.
The Kabylie region in Algeria mostly consists out of an Amazigh-speaking minority group. The Movement for Self-determination of Kabylie (MAK) strives for the independence of the region and has been backed by Morocco. The movement has been designated as a terrorist organization by Algeria. In August Algeria’s presidency said that MAK had been responsible for instigating deadly wildfires. It furthermore stated that MAK had been getting support and help from foreign parties, particularly Morocco and Israel.
The conflict over the Western Sahara
The relationship between Algeria and Morocco has been strained for decades over the issue of the Western Sahara. Morocco considers the region of the Western Sahara as part of its territory, Algeria has been supporting the Polisario Front which is striving to gain independence of the region. The borders between the two countries have been closed since 1994. Last year the US recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara in return for normalization of its relations with Israel. This development has angered Algiers who responded that they viewed the normalization of relations as an effort to destabilize Algeria.