Algeria’s move to kick out Moroccan farmers from border area opens up eastern border issue

By March 18, Moroccan farmers have amassed whatever they could take after Algerian authorities addressed them an ultimatum to leave a border area near Figuig which they have cultivated for generations. They are victims of arbitrary colonial borders on the one hand and of an Algerian hostile regime to anything Moroccan, on the other.

A day of mourning in Figuig as farmers were forced to leave lands they have sown for centuries. People took to the streets in Feguig to vent their anger. Some of them wanted to continue the march to the area of El Arja wherefrom they were expelled by Algerian authorities but Moroccan police prevented them.

In the area of EL Arja near Figuig border city, dozens of farmers have been planting palm trees and other local crops on the other bank of the river where Algerian authorities and army officials asked them to leave or risk being arrested.

So far, Moroccan authorities did not comment save a statement from local governor who said he was in contact with farmers and that the measures by the Algerian authorities were temporary.

The expulsion of Moroccan farmers raised painful memories of what Moroccans call the black march when Algerian president Houari Boumediene expelled more than 300,000 Moroccans and confiscated their possessions.

Analysts have raised the right of private property which has nothing to do with border delimitation. What is at stake in the area of Figuig is that farmers are deprived from accessing their private property by the Algerian authorities.

The Algerian regime measures hint at possible attempts by the regime to stir tensions with Morocco in a bid to distract attention from its domestic political crisis and also to cover up the multiple diplomatic setbacks it suffered in the Sahara issue.

The Algerian provocations near Tindouf also open the border pandora’s box between Morocco and Algeria with voices in Morocco calling for a reconsideration of the border delimitations which were to the detriment of the Kingdom.

After Morocco gained independence, King Mohammed V refused to negotiate the eastern borders with France which kept amputating lands from the Kingdom and attaching them to French Algeria.

An agreement was reached between King Mohammed V and the provisional Algerian government at a time the Kingdom offered its territories as a rear-base for the Algerian resistance.

But a military junta sidelined politicians and took power in Algiers. A Policy of territorial consolidation then began to manifest itself in the revolutionary military commanders that emerged as Algeria’s kingmakers, leading to the outbreak of the Sand-war, a low-intensity conflict which took place in the areas of Tindouf and Figuig.

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