By Luis Arellano
Algeria’s border with Morocco has been closed since 1994. However, King Mohammed VI extended a rare fig leaf to his larger neighbor in a candid Throne Day speech. Algeria is a “twin” as he extended his hand in peace. The joint security challenges that the North African states face as well as the the need to build stronger ties.
“Therefore, we consider that the security and stability of Algeria and the tranquility of its people are part of the security and stability of Morocco. And conversely, what affects Mococco will also affect Algeria, because they are like one body,” the king said.
Looking past the often frigid relationship with Algiers, the Moroccan king called for a relationship without preconditions. The King mentioned in particular the Marrakech Treaty as an example of the need for open borders between the two states. That document is the founding text of the Arab Maghreb Union dating 1989. The document paved the way for a close political and economic union between Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. Unfortunately the various border disputes and geopolitical rivalries amongst the five member states have seen the organization fail to live up to its full potential. Though the organization continues to plot for a new political future from its headquarters in Rabaat, Morocco.
During his speech the Moroccan monarch stressed the need for the free flow of goods and services amongst countries of the union.
In some ways the speech marked a return to well established themes. The king had called for reopening of the borders in public decrees and speeches dating to 2008. Yet, the format of the Throne Speech is noteworthy for the prominence given to the topic. In the past the Algerian government has acted coolly to these overtures but, the recent change in government in Algeria may lead to a new result.
The change of government in Algeria since the revolution their and the pro-multilateralist approach of the Biden administration means that conditions are ripe for the two countries of the region to work together on counter-terrorism, regional peace and trade initiatives experts say.