A crisis between Algeria and Morocco appears to be unfolding following a huge arms deal being implimented by Russia during a period of high tensions between the West and Russia.
After the establishment of a new military zone on the Algerian Moroccan border, Morocco has massively increased its border presence, mobilising 50,000 troops along its maritime and land borders, according to a Spanish website, following north african matters. The reinforcements involve the Royal Gendarmerie, Army and Air force, it stated on November 16th.
“Border surveillance, as well as the strengthening of operational capacities to deal with threats are among the main concerns of the FAR. The mission of the Moroccan army as well as that of the royal gendarmerie is to mobilize significant material and human resources to control and monitor the land borders 3,300 km long and maritime over a distance of 3,500 km in addition to the airspace” said Abdellatif Loudiyi, Minister Delegate before the Foreign Affairs Committee in Rabat, according to Bladi.net
It’s unclear however if the move by Rabat is as a response to the mega deal between Algiers and Moscow or simply a longer term strategy of beefed up border security during a period of increased tensions over the disputed area of Western Sahara.
The country’s enormous 3,300km land border with Algeria – recently threatened by the joint Algerian Russian military manoeuvres which took place less than 50km from the frontier – will also be strengthened.
The increases are not simply manpower. Fixed and mobile radars are also being deployed, to add to the sophisticated electronic surveillance systems already in place.
Maritime border security comes in for a special emphasis, with the establishment of a new command post at Al Hoceima, in response to the traffic of illegal migrants between Morocco’s coast and the Spanish mainland and coastal enclaves.
Federica Saini Fasanotti, writing for the pro Algerian, Liechtenstein based, think tank GIS, feels tensions are exaggerated – stating “a military conflict between Morocco and Algeria now would also harm energy agreements and benefit no one”.
The American position remains that Algeria may be sanctioned under the CAATSA act, designed to punish countries buying arms from Russia.