According to the latest review of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR-Morocco), dated Monday 21 February, Morocco has decided to create a new military region on its eastern border with Algeria. For this reason, Rabat seeks to give more flexibility and freedom of action, necessary for the accomplishment of the different missions.
As tensions between Morocco and Algeria grow, Morocco has decided to divide its territory into three military zones. Indeed, the country was divided into two military regions: the north and the south. To these can now be added the eastern region along the eastern border with Algeria. According to the journal of the Moroccan army “The creation of this entity aims to ensure the coherence of the command, control and support of the land, air and sea components of the FAR”, and better, to give them “more flexibility and freedom of action necessary for the accomplishment of the various missions. This new area was put under the command of Major General Mohammed Miqdad, who was appointed on 5 January.
Risk of degeneration?
The situation between Morocco and Algeria is very tough. Indeed, the issue of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony considered a “non-self-governing territory” by the UN, has for decades pitted Morocco against the Polisario Front independence fighters, supported by Algeria. The two countries broke off diplomatic relations last August. Algeria closed the gas pipeline that passed through Morocco. In the same breath, Algiers accuses Rabat of being behind the death of three of its nationals in Western Sahara. However, Algeria has always assured that it does not seek a confrontation with Morocco:” Rest assured: Algeria will only wage war in self-defence. Algeria has experienced too much colonial warfare to want to engage in an armed confrontation with a neighbouring country “In an interview with RFI at the beginning of February, Ramtane Lamamra, Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, said
The dispute remains structural: the Western Sahara issue and Morocco’s rapprochement with Israel. Furthermore, this newly created military zone is an extension of the southern military zone, involving the deployment of anti-aircraft defence systems, surveillance radars and drones. According to several observers, the two countries engaged in an arm wrestling and in an arms race maintain a “strategy of tension“, without however wanting to engage in a real escalation. In mid-November 2020, a 29-year-old ceasefire in Western Sahara collapsed after Moroccan troops were deployed in the far south of the territory to dislodge pro-independence fighters who were blocking the only road to Mauritania. According to them, it is illegal because it did not exist when the 1991 agreements were signed. Thus, North Africa could be thrown off balance if Rabat and Algiers decide to intensify the conflicts. It will therefore be necessary to turn to international organisations for the peaceful settlement of disputes between these two neighbouring countries.