Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean



Algeria closes its airspace to all Moroccan planes

Moroccan planes are now banned from Algeria (photo: F.Dubessy)
Moroccan planes are now banned from Algeria (photo: F.Dubessy)
ALGERIA / MOROCCO. The situation between Algeria and Morocco is getting tougher with the closure of Algerian airspace to all Moroccan aircraft. Taken on Wednesday evening, 22 September 2021, at the end of a meeting of the Algerian High Security Council (HCS), chaired by Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Head of State, this decision to restrict Moroccan air traffic is effective immediately and is intended to be as broad as possible.

Algiers will no longer welcome on its tarmacs both civilian and Moroccan military aircraft as well as all aircraft registered in Morocco. But also in its skies, which excludes any overflight of Algerian space by these aircraft. In a presidential statement, the Algerian government refers to "the continuation of provocations and hostile practices by Morocco" to explain this escalation in the disagreement between the two neighbouring countries.

The crisis has lasted for decades and no high-level state visit has taken place since 2012. It has been fuelled by the ups and downs of the Western Sahara issue. However, it reached a climax at the end of August 2021 with Algeria's unilateral announcement of the break-up of diplomatic relations with Morocco.


Twelve years of quarrelling during the previous diplomatic rupture

This situation had only one precedent, in March 1976 after the recognition by Algiers of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) self-proclaimed by the Polisario Front independence fighters, while Morocco considers this province as an integral part of its territory. The quarrel had lasted twelve years, until a "normalisation" based on four principles: A willingness to promote permanent relations of peace, good neighbourliness and cooperation between the two peoples; a contribution to the acceleration of the building of the Greater Arab Maghreb; a contribution to the strengthening of Arab ranks around the cause of the Palestinian people; support for a just and definitive solution to the Western Sahara conflict through a referendum on self-determination.

During the violent fires that ravaged the north of the country in August 2021, Rabat had offered to send two water bombers to help fight them. Algiers, which holds Morocco responsible for these disasters on its territory, had refused, preferring to turn to France and Spain.

The land borders between the two countries have been officially closed since 1994. Air borders have only been closed since 17 March 2021 due to the Covid-19 epidemic. However, as of 1 June 2021, passengers from seven countries (but not Morocco) can now travel to Algeria.

Eric Apim

Thursday, September 23rd 2021

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