Assassination of two Moroccan drivers in Mali: Who is sowing instability in Sahel?

Moroccans and the region woke up Sunday to the abhorrent news of a cowardice ambush that took the lives of two Moroccan truck drivers and injured another in Mali on the way to the capital.

The attack was perpetrated 300 kilometers away from Bamako by gunmen who escaped without stealing any goods from the Moroccan trucks.

Witnesses said they were masked, had bullet proof vests, and had military communication devices, which suggest the attack was premeditated targeting Morocco’s trade with West Africa.

Morocco has made Africa a priority and strengthened trade with Sahel countries. At least 350 heavy trucks cross the Guerguarat road lining Morocco to Mauritania. Morocco fresh produce and foodstuff are popular in West Africa.

The attack is perpetrated by parties that are disturbed by Morocco’s growing clout and influence in the region. Head of the national transport federation Abdelilah Hafidi blamed “Algeria and its puppets, the Polisario, for this terrorist attack”.

The goal behind this attack is to stem the momentum in Moroccan trade with the rest of Africa, said Hafidi, noting that due to the crisis, many Moroccan truck drivers opt for West Africa where business is booming.

Those who commissioned the attack want to intimidate Moroccan drivers and companies doing business in West Africa and Mali in particular.

By contrast, there is an absence of Algerian trucks on Sub-Saharan roads, Hafidi said.

Regional context

After Morocco put an end to the Polisario’s banditry by securing once and for all the Guerguarat border crossing with Mauritania, Algeria and its Polisario proxies were left in disarray as they see Morocco boost its influence in the region.

The fact that the attackers did not touch the load of the two trucks backs the idea that the attack is meant to intimidate Moroccan truck drivers and push them to reduce or avoid land routes in the Sahel region.

Few days before the attack, Algeria’s foreign minister visited Bamako and held multiple meetings in the Algerian embassy there. It is becoming clearer now that Algeria aspires to replace France after the latter withdrew its troops.

Algeria has amended its constitution to allow its army officially to intervene outside its borders. Now it seems that there is a tacit agreement between France and Algeria to have Algerian troops in Mali to allegedly fight terrorist groups.

But can a country which failed to secure its own territories fight terrorists in a neighboring country? Worst, the connivance of Algeria with terrorist groups in the region is no secret.

Prior to the attack on the Moroccan truckers, Guinea Conakry and its pro-Morocco president was deposed in a coup the very same day Morocco’s football team was in the city to play the local team. The repatriation of the Moroccan squad required an intervention of the King.

Months ago, a Moroccan diplomat was killed in Burkina Faso, and recently Lamamra visited Nouakchott and Moroccan media evoked that he asked Mauritania to allow Polisario gunmen to cross to open a front against Morocco near Lagouira.

Lamamra’s visits augur ill for any country he visits. He paid three visits to Tunisia within a month to convince President Kais Saied to extradite a refugee on political asylum in Tunis.

The nature of this attack shows that Morocco’s inroads in the region are triggering reactions marked by cowardliness by its opponents.

But these methods will not help Algeria cope with its growing domestic crisis. As its squanders the remaining of its international reserves in the region, Algeria’s regime is acting like a rogue state that has nothing to offer to export to its neighbors but autocracy and terrorism.

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