Water, next episode in Algeria’s “blame Morocco” game

Water, next episode in Algeria’s “blame Morocco” game

Blaming Morocco for self-inflicted troubles has become a national sports among members of the Algerian regime. This time, an obscure Algerian Minister Taha Derbal has accused Morocco of drying up Algeria’s west, where nearly 1.7 million have suffered days of water outages.

Algeria has pinned the blame on Morocco previously for climate-induced wild fires, shortages of basic goods, diplomatic debacles, low economic indicators, and sports failures.

Now water shortage adds to the absurd list of unfounded accusations. While water scarcity is a general phenomenon in the Mediterranean, Algerian cities- including the capital- have for decades suffered from sporadic water cuts and rationing, with the government doing little to address that.

Morocco, thankfully, does not have shared-rivers with Algeria save the Guir river which stems from the Atlas mountains and pours in a desert area attached to colonial Algeria by France.

While Algeria’s approach to water was marred by short-termism, little was done to seek unconventional water sources to secure the needs of its rapidly growing population.

Instead of acting on the water problems, the Algerian regime indulges in exaggeration and fake news. The president himself told the UN General assembly in 2023 that the country will have a desalination capacity of 1.3 billion cubic meters this year! That means the whole Mediterranean Sea will dry up in a year.

Morocco cannot be blamed for addressing water scarcity proactively by building dams to irrigate its eastern oases. Morocco has in fact built a dam that diminishes water that once was lost in the desert, prior to the launch of the Djorf Torba dam near Bechar, a Moroccan territory annexed by French Algeria

Djorf Torba dam has seen filling rates dropping indeed. Meanwhile, Algerian president brags about an exceptional wheat harvest in the same desert that his water minister says is suffering water shortage.

Algeria has in fact destroyed any bridge that could facilitate a potential water deal with Morocco. Algeria seeks to undermine Morocco’s territorial integrity by backing an armed separatist group, expels tens of thousands of Moroccans in 1975, closes borders in 1994, unilaterally cuts diplomatic ties and halts gas flow to Morocco in 2020, engages in a poisonous propaganda campaign and indoctrinates its people against the Kingdom, uses war threats, boycotts Moroccan ports, to mention but the main hostile acts.

Morocco cannot be blamed for Algeria’s lack of farsighted water strategies that left the population of the second largest city in the country without water for a week this month. Ironically, Oran is a coastal city that should have had its own desalination plant decades ago.

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