In his traditional Throne speech delivered on Saturday evening, King Mohammed IV of Morocco expressed his desire for a “return to normal” with Algeria, with whom diplomatic relations have been severed since August 2021, as well as the reopening of borders with its neighbor.
Mohammed VI extends an olive branch to Algeria. On the evening of Saturday, July 29, during the traditional speech marking the anniversary of his ascent to the throne – now 24 years ago – the King of Morocco expressed his desire for a “return to normalcy” with Algiers.
He also wished for the reopening of borders between the two countries, which have been closed since 1994. “We pray to the Almighty for a return to normalcy and the reopening of borders between our two neighboring countries and our two brotherly peoples,” said the Moroccan monarch in a nationwide radio-television address.
This wish was expressed despite the diplomatic relations between Algeria and Morocco being severed in late August 2021. At the time, Algiers, which initiated the rupture, accused Rabat of “hostile acts”. For the kingdom, it was a “completely unjustified” decision.
King Mohammed VI ask Algeria for a return to normal and the reopening of land borders closed since 1994. Diplomatic relations have been severed since August 2021. #Morocco #Algeria #Maghreb https://t.co/sAjyuEykJV
— Brahim Oumansour اومنصور ابراهيم (@OumansourB) July 30, 2023
The thorny Western Sahara issue
Since then, the two neighbors have maintained terrible relations, amidst a regional rivalry heightened by their disagreements over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
For nearly fifty years, an armed conflict has been ongoing between Morocco and the independence movement Front Polisario, supported by Algeria. Morocco advocates for a plan of autonomy under its exclusive sovereignty, while the Polisario Front demands a referendum for self-determination under the auspices of the United Nations.
In January 2023, the diplomatic showdown between Rabat and Algiers also spilled onto the sports field, with Morocco’s withdrawal from the African Nations Championship (CHAN), which was being held in Algeria.
The recognition, in mid-July, by Israel of “Moroccan sovereignty” over Western Sahara further ignited tensions with Algeria, which denounced it as “foreign maneuvers”.
“We reassure our brothers in Algeria, their leadership, and their people that they will never have to fear any malice from Morocco,” assured Mohammed VI.
Every year, the Moroccan sovereign calls for a closer relationship with the neighboring countries. On July 30, 2022, he reiterated his extended hand to Algeria “once again”. “We also confirm to them the value we attach to the bonds of affection and friendship, the exchanges and interactions between our two peoples,” he emphasized.
The Throne speech: assessment and roadmap
Amidst speculation about the health of the Moroccan sovereign – who will turn 60 on August 21 – Mohammed VI, visibly thinner in recent weeks, confidently delivered his Throne speech, which reviews the past year and sets a roadmap for the coming months.
Highlighting the “seriousness of the Moroccan youth”, he particularly praised the “achievement” of the national football team in Qatar in December, becoming the first African and Arab team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.
He also expressed his delight that, at his initiative, Morocco decided to submit a joint bid with Spain and Portugal for hosting the final stages of the 2030 World Cup.