Morocco believes that the French colonizer took away Moroccan lands for the benefit of Algeria, which France considered an overseas department. Moroccan archives present historical evidence. Algerian officials retaliate with their usual nervousness. The undrawn borders between the two countries and the question of the Eastern Sahara remain the real reasons for the tensions between Morocco and Algeria, not the Sahara question. Eastern Sahara: the basis of the conflict between Morocco and Algeria.
Eastern Sahara: the basis of the conflict between Morocco and Algeria.
Archives confirm Eastern Sahara’s dependence on Morocco
At a symposium at the headquarters of the official Moroccan news agency, the director of the Royal Records (archives), Bahija Al-Simo, said that the body she oversees has documents proving that the Eastern Sahara – a name Moroccans give to parts of western Algeria – is Moroccan.
The Moroccan official said the Kingdom has documents proving that the “Eastern Sahara”, which includes Algerian regions, belongs to Morocco, as well as other documents proving that the Western Sahara is “Moroccan”.
His intervention, in response to a journalist’s question, said: “Regarding the documents related to the Sahara issue, they are very, very, very available in Morocco.
In addition, the same official stressed that the documents she was about to talk about are not just correspondence or sales documents, “there are maps showing how the borders developed,” as she said.
She also said that the documents she talked about include drawings, international agreements among others, and messages exchanged since the middle Ages on the Sahara issue.
Bitter border struggle
Moroccans call the western region of the Algerian Sahara, which stretches from Knadsa and Bechar to Tindouf in the far west, the “Eastern Sahara,” and many consider it Moroccan land.
Moreover, the question of borders in African countries in general was resolved after the African Union recognized the need to retain its inherited colonial design.
Algeria, like Morocco, was a French colony, and when it decided to end its protectorate of Tunisia and Morocco through agreements between them, France tried to keep Algeria, before it confronted it in a bitter war for over seven years (1954-1962).
The French newspaper “Le Monde” wrote on October 30, 1963, the following text: “When France set foot in the desert. The oases of southern Morocco were all under the influence of the Sultan of Fez…”, a statement that France must open the archives to understand the extent of the plot that de Gaulle “imposed” on the Algerians to annex Eastern Sahara to the Algerian “administration”.
One year after Algeria’s independence, in 1963, the “war of the sand” broke out between the two neighboring countries, following a series of border incidents.
The “Sand War” is a name given to the two-month conflict between Morocco and Algeria, after each side accused the other of seizing desert areas along 1,200 km of border.
In 1964, the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) intervened to settle the dispute, allowing the borders between the two countries to reopen.
In 1972, Algeria and Morocco reached an agreement on their common borders, but Morocco waited 20 years without ratifying it.
The border issue continues to excite Moroccans and Algerians, whenever a statement on the subject raises public opinion in both countries.
Algeria’s frantic response
The head of the Algerian People’s Assembly (Parliament), Ibrahim Boghali, criticized the Moroccan official’s statements and accused Rabat of “disturbing” Algeria.
Boghali told the Algerian parliament that Morocco is trying to “confuse our country and market its expansionist ambitions … at a time when our country is working, under the wise leadership of the President of the Republic, to promote stability at the regional, continental and international levels in order to establish peace, boost development and inspire hope.
He continued, “Although our military doctrine is based on defense, we do not allow any atom of our soil to be touched, because we paid a heavy price for our borders.”
He said that the Algerian army is ready to “defend our borders and spread peace and tranquility throughout the country.”
Boghali’s speech is the first official Algerian response to the controversy that has spread in recent days on social networks.
Al-Moussawi Al-Ajlawi, an expert on Sahara affairs and the Sahel region, noted: “The resumption of the discussion on the subject has come within the framework of scientific sessions in a clear historical framework that enshrines a historical fact witnessed by the French and the Moroccan Archives.
Al-Ajlawi confirmed that “raising the issue is primarily historical, and not an official Moroccan proposal. Because Morocco is a country that respects the agreements and treaties by which the debate was settled in 1992,” stressing that “The issue is to be rediscussed with regard to the borders inherited from colonialism, which are Mashgosha borders is a serious problem in Moroccan-Algerian relations.
The specialist in historical and African studies explained that “when France colonized many countries, it borrowed from the lands of Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Niger,” noting that while “the issue of Tunisian and Algerian borders was resolved in Rabat in 1962, Niger and Mali have not raised the issue for discussion.
He added: “Historically, culturally and spiritually, the Eastern Sahara remains a Moroccan territory,” before explaining that “France proposed to Morocco under the reign of King Mohammed V in 1956 that the Eastern Sahara return to Morocco in exchange for the latter’s abandonment of support for the Algerian revolution, but the late King refused. Moreover, what happened after 1962 is that Morocco demanded the return of Tindouf, Bechar and other regions.
80 kilometers south of Tindouf
He concluded: “The border problem between Morocco and Algeria is deeply linked to the question of the respect by each country of its treaty and agreement with its neighbor. In addition, Morocco, despite its decision in this matter, remained a problem 80 kilometers south of Tindouf, which borders the northeastern part of the Moroccan desert (i.e., the areas of Tafariti and Bir Lahlou…).
The same expert asked, “If the current Algerian regime does not accept the full border treaty, then it contradicts what it ratified in the 1970s?”, noting that “with Lamamra’s agreement last year with the imaginary entity, they are announcing their violation of the 1972 border agreement, in total contradiction.
He concluded, “Morocco is a country that respects its treaties, as evidenced by the fact that it did not protest against the seizure of farms from farmers in the region of Figuig. The ball remains in the Algerian camp, which is indignant at the brilliant historical truth.”
The opinion of a history expert
Eastern Sahara: the basis of the conflict between Morocco and Algeria.
Confirming what Bahija Al Simo, director of the Royal Documents, said about the fact that the body that oversees it has documents proving that the Eastern Sahara is Moroccan, French historian Bernard Logan confirmed that France had amputated parts of Morocco to expand the territory of French Algeria.
The French historian said in an interview with the newspaper “Maroc Hebdo” in its latest issue, that France deliberately, since 1870, that is 40 years after the beginning of French colonization in the Algerian province that was subject to the Ottoman sultanate, amputated parts of Morocco to extend the territory of French Algeria.
The French academic added that the Algerian leaders are in their depths. They know that they cannot defend their position historically, and they do not want to admit that it was French colonialism that cut out parts of Morocco.
The historian considered that “Algeria as a state did not exist before 1962 because it passed directly from Turkish to French colonialism. Thus, most of the regions, such as Tindouf and Saoura, are historically Moroccan, without any doubt.
Plans of the French colonizers
The French researcher pointed out that in March 1870, the French general de Winvin, commander of the state of Oran, seized Ain al-Shaer near Fiji and the region of Wadi Ghair in the vicinity of Bejaia, which were undoubtedly Moroccan, because the deputy of the Sultan of the region of Figuig was a commander in charge of representing the central authority in the oases of Tawat, pointing out that “Moroccan archives contain documents proving it.
The French academic said that on August 5, 1890, according to a biography agreement, Britain and France determined their spheres of influence in Africa, and Paris saw that it could occupy the Moroccan regions of Tawat, Qarara, Igli and Oued Soura, based on a project to connect West Africa to the Mediterranean Sea by the trans-Saharan railway.
The spokesman said that from December 1899, France seized Ain Saleh and a set of oases of Tidicilt and Ghorara, including the region of Timimoun, occupied in 1901.
The same spokesman pointed out that “during 1903, the French army wanted to annex the region of Fiji, despite the fact that the treaty of Lalla Mughniyeh signed in 1845 explicitly stipulated that it was part of Morocco, then they occupied the region of Bechar and the oases”. of Touat and other regions, and in June 1904, all French forces captured Ras al-Ain These are amputations documented through Moroccan and French archives.