Africa World

Thu 23 September 2021:

Algerian authorities have decided to close the country’s airspace to all civil and military Moroccan aircraft, about a month after the two countries severed diplomatic ties, as tensions between the two countries continue to rise, according to the presidential office.

The decision was taken at a national security council meeting on Wednesday. Relations with Morocco were on the agenda.

The statement added that the decision was taken “because of the continued Moroccan provocations and hostile practices.”

Last month, Algeria cut diplomatic relations with Morocco, Foreign Minister Ramdane Lamamra said, accusing its neighbor of “hostile actions.”

Algeria had previously said that it would be reviewing its relations with Morocco after “hostile acts,” according to an earlier statement from the presidency.

“The incessant hostile acts carried out by Morocco against Algeria have necessitated the review of relations between the two countries and the intensification of security controls on the western borders,” the Algerian statement said.

In July, the Algerian foreign ministry recalled its ambassador to Morocco and hinted at possible further measures in the latest flare-up of tension between the North African neighbors over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

The two North African nations have long been at odds over control of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony that was transferred under control of Morocco and Mauritania in 1973.

Three years later, the Polisario Front, of which Algeria is considered to be the main supporter, established the partially-recognized Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) on a very small part of the disputed territory. Morocco, which controls much of Western Sahara, has been pushing for the region’s autonomy, while the United Nations and SADR have been in favor of a referendum on its self-determination.

Land borders between Algeria and Morocco have been shut since the early 1990s over security, aggravating friction between Algiers and Rabat whose relations have been worsening due to the conflict.

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