Algerian Foreign Minister, Abdelkader Messahel accuses Morocco of refusing to revive the Arab Maghreb Union, stressing his country’s will to reinforce Maghreb integration.
While visiting Russia, the Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel stated that his country has always been working on Maghreb integration. In an interview with Russia Today (RT), the senior official who was operating in the past as a deputy minister in charge of Maghreb affairs stated that Algeria «still believes in Maghreb integration for historical, cultural, political and economic reasons».
He explained that Algeria is «the only country that has borders with all Maghreb nations» and which has worked on linking them through infrastructure. «We have constructed highways connecting the Tunisian borders to the Moroccan ones (…) We have also a road that goes down to the Mauritanian border line».
The minister proudly stated : «we constructed roads to carry regional integration and that is what we are hoping and the president’s message was clear enough», referring to a letter President Abdelaziz Boutaflika sent to Maghreb countries’ head of states on the 17th of February, commemorating the creation of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU).
Putting the blame on Morocco for not willing to revive the regional union, Messahel added saying : «There were political problems … The Western Sahara conflict might be an obstacle for the Moroccan side but it is not one for us».
And to back his argument the Minister recalled when Algeria was head of the Arab Maghreb Union in 2001. He said that at the time the country «thought of creating a Maghreb economic commission. We wanted to leave the political conflicts behind and focus more on the economic field, developing unifying strategies regarding agriculture, infrastructure and combating desertification».
A stagnating union
But before talking about his country's wish to revive the Arab Maghreb Union, which has been stagnating since its creation in 1989, Messahel did not miss the opportunity to throw shade on Morocco. «There is no difference between financing terrorism and organized crime, and this is obtained through drug trafficking» he said implicitly referring to the Kingdom, which has been constantly accused of showering Algeria with drugs.
While Messahel claimed that his country was working on rebuilding the regional union, facts say the opposite. As a former President of Tunisia, Moncef Marzouki tried in the first months of 2012 to hold an Arab Maghreb Union summit in Tunis, which was rejected by Algeria.
At the time, Marzouki got the approval of Morocco, Libya and Mauritania without receiving the Algerian one. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika agreed only in principle before rejecting to accept the holding of the summit.
Despite Messahel's attempt to emphasize that the Sahara conflict is not an obstacle that affects the Arab Maghreb Union, Algeria in 2012 implicitly opposed the proposal of Moncef Marzouki, suggesting to put the conflict aside and proceed with the building of the union’s institutions.
The Minister himself was repeatedly behind several diplomatic crises between Morocco and Algeria. The recent of them all is when he accused Moroccan banks of money laundering and the national carrier of drug trafficking.
For the record, the Arab Maghreb Union has been struggling to survive for many years because of the Moroccan-Algerian differences. The last time a summit brought together the union’s leaders was in 1994.