Hassan Hami
24 January 2024

Geopolitical Syncope in the Maghreb Region: History, Check and Mate (Part I)

Geopolitical Syncope in the Maghreb Region: History, Check and Mate (Part I)
Geopolitical Syncope in the Maghreb Region: History, Check and Mate (Part I)

It will take as long as it takes, but the proposal for autonomy within the framework of Moroccan sovereignty will triumph in the Western Sahara issue.

A series of questions and answers that are worth asking and answering in order to understand the shifts in the North Africa geopolitical landscape. The first question would be: Why do historians in North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa not mention Mauritania as having been, like Morocco, a bulwark against the domination of the Ottoman Empire throughout the region? 

Far from reviving irredentism or giving in to outbidding, the answer is that Mauritania was part of the Moroccan Empire. So much so that when few journalists or scholars, slightly carried away or downright heated, play with the origins of the Almoravids, they only blow in the wind.

The most important thing to take into account is that the dynasty of the Almoravids ruled over Morocco and present-day Mauritania, as well as over a large part of Algeria, and parts of Mali and the Iberian Peninsula from 1040 to 1147.

History is not a Board Game

Hence, the second question: Why does Algeria seek by all means to invent historical, cultural, and identity symbols? Here too, without sinking into egocentrism and irony, the answer is that Algeria did not exist before 1962, the date of its negotiated independence from France after years of a bloody liberation war. This was followed by a tailor-made referendum that kept the country at the mercy of the former colonial power.

Hence, the third question: Why, on the eve of, and after Morocco’s independence (whose negotiations were also initiated and concretized with France in Aix-les-Bains and La Celle-Saint-Cloud in 1955 and with Spain in April 1956), did Paris and Madrid do everything to ensure that the country would not find itself within its historical borders?

Once again, without falling into irredentism and even less into self-flagellation, the answer is that the colonizers, in cahoots with other powers, feared that such an outcome would serve as an impetus and revive endless territorial claims in all former colonized countries.

Such a process would have called into question the treaties that had given hypothetical legal arguments to colonial powers, particularly in the aftermath of the Berlin Conference (1884–1855) on the partition of Africa and the Algeciras Conference (1906) on the partition of Morocco.

At the risk of exasperating the understanding of the supporters of the geopolitical clean slate, it is worth reminding that Morocco has gradually recovered parcels of its territory since 1958. It had no choice, as this was partially imposed by colonial powers and unavoidably favored by intra-national political ambitions due to the multiplication of Moroccan interlocutors on the eve of the country’s independence.

Yet the Sahara affair is only the tip of the iceberg. It was part of the same pattern of obstruction to nip in the bud the Moroccan territorial claims already expressed with respect to Mauritania and the Eastern Sahara.

In recent years, independent voices in France and Spain have come out of their reserves to make revelations about the compromises and conspiracies that have marred Morocco’s struggle to complete its territorial integrity.

Nevertheless, Morocco continues to fight for its rights despite adversity, animosity, and obstruction emanating from geopolitical dependencies in the region, with Algeria topping the list.

Hence, the fourth question: How to explain the relentlessness, since 2019, of Algerian decision-makers at the highest level of the state to denigrate Morocco and show a lack of ethics and restraint in what is worded “politically and diplomatically correct?”

For much of the past four decades, Algeria’ media campaign against Morocco draws on misinformation, slander, and lies. But above all, the Algerian regime’s relentless anti-Morocco campaign has amounted to political acts of pure provocation to drag Morocco into engaging a war against Algeria. In addition, there was an attempt to reconstitute strategic axes in 2020–2021, as this had occurred during the 1980s with Tunisia and Mauritania (by associating Libya this time).

As such, Algeria’s unilateral severance of diplomatic relations with Morocco in August 2021 was only the beginning of a scenario aimed at plunging the Maghreb region into chaos. Provocations and intimidations on the borders have become a daily routine the Algerian military establishment performs. 

Among the latest is the announcement, for the umpteenth time, of the start of the exploitation of the iron mines of Garat Jbilat without taking into account the provisions of the 1972 Convention on borders.

Each time, Algerians put forward the name of a foreign investor. This time, and for a year in a chorus riddled with false notes, China would be the “lucky winner.’’ Not only does Morocco not make an official reaction to such an announcement, but it reasons like the Chinese themselves: it plays on time.

The Chinese say, for example, that Taiwan is Chinese territory and will have to return to the motherland at any expense. It will take as long as it takes, but reintegration is inevitable.

Morocco, which has not yet officially made a statement on Algeria’s provocative behavior, adopts a wise attitude and leaves it to time. Then, at a convenient time, it will produce the appropriate legal arguments to defend its rights rooted in the practice of non-compliance with the provisions of treaties signed between sovereign States.

Hence, the fifth question: What would Algeria’s reaction be if Morocco resolved to appeal to the International Court of Justice to set the record straight? Would Algeria declare war on Morocco? Maybe. But first, it should have the green light from those who have assigned Algeria as a strategic intermittent to implement scenarios built in Western and Eastern capitals for half a century already.

Algeria knows that it has lost the war aimed at shredding Morocco. Indeed, since the confrontations in Amgala (1976), the desperate attempt to infiltrate the walls of defense (1984), the failure of its bet on the Gdim Izik camps (2010), as well as its endeavor to siege El-Guerguerat in 2020, through proxy elements of the Polisario separate movement, Algeria has only harvested the wind.

The appendices eventually dry out

Algeria does not know what to do with the Polisario, which has settled in Tindouf and now acts there as “an independent entity.” Algeria is aware that sooner or later, the Polisario appendix entity will be drowned in “political and diplomatic moisture” and will be forced to leave the African Union.

The overhaul of the African Union Charter is a matter of time, not only on the issue of the admission and exclusion of Member States but also on the issue of democratizing decision-making rules.

Morocco’s return to the African Union in 2017 spoke volumes about its newfound resolution not to let Algeria and a handful of its allies rule and manipulate African public opinion for biased and unethical purposes.

The presence of the appendix entity is a detail with no effective diplomatic or geopolitical significance. The Sahara issue is in the hands of the United Nations Security Council. It will take as long as it takes, but the proposal for autonomy within the framework of Moroccan sovereignty will triumph.

Hence, seventhly, the second synthesis: Since its independence, Algeria has been haunted by the idea of fabricating a history that it could not claim back then.

Algeria provoked the Sand War in 1963 to renege on the commitments it made in Tangier in 1958 at the meeting of the parties of Istiqlal (Morocco), Neo-Destour (Tunisia), and the National Liberation Front (Algeria). By the same token, Algeria distanced itself from promises the Algerian provisional government made to King Mohammed V on the future of the Eastern Sahara.

Indeed, Ben Bella (head of the Political Bureau) and Houari Boumediene (commander of the General Staff of the National Liberation Army) reportedly had differences with Ben Khedda and Ferhat Abbas (GPRA) on the need to stick with the commitments Algeria made to Morocco prior to independence from France in 1962 and in the early years of the newly established Algerian state.

The fate of the Eastern Sahara was going to be sealed had it not been for the intervention of France to convince (or force) Morocco to leave the recaptured territories. France intervened because such a recovery would, de facto, open the way for Morocco to recover Mauritania.

But above all, France was anxious to protect its oil interests and was willing to continue its nuclear tests in the Sahara under the agreements reached with Algerian representatives on the sidelines of the negotiations held in Evian. These nuclear tests took place in 1960 and 1966. 

France and Spain had made common cause, as the two countries did during Operation Ecouvillon in 1958 against irregular forces of the Moroccan National Liberation Army.

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France referred to the resale right principle to free the besieged Spanish troops in the Sahara. In reality, France wanted to abort the plan these forces intended to implement in order to spread the fight throughout the south and eventually reach and liberate Mauritania.

Hence, eighth and third synthesis: An anti-Moroccan obstruction scheme has been carried out alternately, taking into account the geopolitical constraints since 1956, the date of Morocco’s independence.

And it is in the same context that we must insert the obsession of Algeria (and other hidden interests) to create an artificial proxy entity in the Moroccan Sahara.

Proof of this claim is Houari Boumediene’s proposal to Mokhtar Ould Daddah to withdraw from the 1975 tripartite negotiations between Spain, Morocco, and Mauritania on the Sahara in return for the subsequent realization of a confederation between Algeria and Mauritania. A “Saharawi entity” would later join if it were established.

This revelation was recorded in the former Mauritanian president’s memoirs, published in 2003. At the same time, Boumediene was negotiating with Spain to grant the territory formal autonomy within the framework of Spanish institutions in return for a corridor on the Atlantic Ocean. 

At the same time, Boumediene was trying to fill up the tribe of Rguibat, many of whom were seduced (or bribed) to settle in Tindouf.

Algeria’s obsession to preserve at all costs the territories acquired unjustly thanks to France and to ogle those of its neighbors was nurtured by the principle of “preaching falsity to have the truth.” 

Needless to say, it is hard to distinguish between true and false in a strategic equation with several unknowns based on the “catch me if you can’’ game.

Source : .moroccoworldnews.com

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