Algeria Cuts Diplomatic Ties With Morocco as Tensions Build

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Algeria cut diplomatic ties with Morocco, citing what it claimed were hostile acts, plunging decades of difficult relations between the North African neighbors to their lowest point since the 1970s.

Algerian Foreign Affairs Minister Ramtane Lamamra, announcing the move Tuesday in a televised press conference, laid out a litany of grievances going back decades, which include alleged Moroccan support for separatists in Algeria and a dispute over the Western Sahara region that Morocco claims. He also cited more recent causes for strain, including allegations of espionage and Morocco’s new ties with Israel.

The move risks escalating tensions in a region already mired in disarray. Algeria’s neighbor, Tunisia, is in the midst of an internal political power fight while Libya is struggling for stability as part of a U.N.-backed push to end nearly a decade of fighting in the OPEC member.

The rift between two key allies of the West may also have implications for a broader fight against terrorism in the region. And it could complicate a pact allowing Algeria to transport gas to Europe via Morocco in exchange for intake that mostly feeds Moroccan gas-fired power plants. The agreement is scheduled to expire in October.

Morocco has consistently carried out “unfriendly, hostile and despicable acts” since Algeria’s 1962 independence, Lamamra said, according to the state-run APS news agency.

He also accused Morocco of supporting two groups Algeria has blamed for devastating wildfires in the country that left at least 90 dead, and of using the Pegasus spyware program, designed by an Israeli company, to spy on its officials.

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Morocco’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement, said it “regrets a completely unjustified, but expected decision.” It added that it “categorically rejects the fallacious, even absurd, pretexts underlying” Algeria’s decision to sever diplomatic ties. Source: Bloomberg