Algeria–Morocco relations have been dominated by several issues since their independence, particularly the 1963 Sand War, the Western Sahara War of 1975-1991, the closing of the Algeria-Morocco border in 1994, and the status of Western Sahara.
The nation of the former colony of Western Sahara territory has caused a deep-seated antagonism and general mistrust between the two nations that has permeated all aspects of Moroccan-Algerian relations. After Spain announced its intention to abandon the territory in 1975, relations between Morocco and Algeria, who had previously presented a united front, disintegrated. Algeria, although not asserting any territorial claims of its own, was averse to the absorption of the territory by any of its neighbors and supported the Polisario Front's wish to found an independent nation in the territory. Before the Spanish evacuation, the Spanish government had agreed to divide the territory, transferring the majority of the land to Morocco and the remainder to Mauritania. This agreement violated a United Nations (UN) resolution that declared all historical claims by Mauritania or Morocco to be insufficient to justify territorial absorption and drew heavy criticism from Algeria.
Guerrilla movements inside the Saharan territory, particularly the Polisario Front (Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia el Hamra y Río de Oro), having fought for Saharan independence since 1973, immediately proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). Algeria recognized this new self-proclaimed state in 1976, and has since pursued a determined diplomatic effort for international recognition of the territory; it has also supplied food, matériel, and training to the guerrillas. In 1979, after many years of extensive and fierce guerrilla warfare, Mauritania abandoned its territorial claims and withdrew. Morocco quickly claimed the territory relinquished by Mauritania. Once the SADR gained diplomatic recognition from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and many other independent states, Morocco came under international pressure. As a result, the Moroccan government finally proposed a national referendum to determine the Saharan territory's sovereignty in 1981. The referendum was to be overseen by the OAU, but the proposal was quickly retracted by the King of Morocco when the OAU could not reach agreement over referendum procedures. In 1987 the Moroccan government again agreed to recognize the Polisario and to meet to "discuss their grievances." Algeria stipulated a solitary precondition for restoration of diplomatic relations—recognition of the Polisario and talks toward a definitive solution to the Western Saharan quagmire. Without a firm commitment from the King of Morocco, Algeria conceded and resumed diplomatic relations with Morocco in 1988.
During the Algerian civil war, Algiers accused Rabat of hosting and supporting the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria, an Algerian Islamist terrorist group. The charge was rapidly denied by Moroccan authorities, but the quarrel led to the border closure in 1994, after Morocco accused the Algerian GIA along with the Algerian Services of the Marrakech attack of 1994, where two Spaniards were killed. The borders are still closed, costing $2 billion yearly to the Moroccan economy. In 1999, the newly elected Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, attended Hassan II of Morocco's funeral, and declared 3 days of official mourning in Algeria for his brother's death. The same year the Algerian president accused Morocco of hosting GIA bases, from which some attacks on Algerians were planned and directed. A few days later he again accused Morocco of exporting drugs into Algeria. In July 2004, the king abolished visa requirements for Algerians entering Morocco; in April 2006, Algerian President reciprocated the gesture. In 2012 Algerian prime minister Ahmed Ouyahia said border reopening was not a priority for his government. Other official declarations imply that this issue is not to be solved soon.
Recently, an increased number of voices from civil society and intellectuals have asked their respective countries to take steps to reconciliation.
- Entelis, John P. with Lisa Arone. "The Maghrib". Algeria: a country study Archived January 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.. Library of Congress Federal Research Division (December 1993). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Xinhua (2012-03-27). "Reopening border between Morocco, Algeria requires deeper examination: minister". Retrieved August 20, 2012.
- Carol Migdalovitz, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division. "Morocco: Royal Succession and Other Developments" (PDF). wikileaks.org. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
- Alexis Arieff Analyst in African Affairs (December 20, 2011). "Morocco: Current Issues#Foreign Policy" (PDF). Retrieved August 20, 2012.
- Oumazzane, Tarik. "Algeria-Morocco: have we missed the bridge?". Morocco World News. Morocco World News. Retrieved 1 November 2014.