Niger-Morocco relations about to shift gear

Niger-Morocco relations

Morocco appears to have developed new relations with a Sahel country which Washington would deem to be a Russian satellite and an ally of Algeria, creating a geopolitical conundrum in the region which could put an end to the polarization of the Sahel.

Niger-Morocco relations recently advanced as Niamey favoured Rabat over Algiers in a new agreement, according to The Arab Weekly and agencies.

On 23rd December 2023, the Nigerien prime minister agreed to join the Moroccan King’s Atlantic initiative, which would allow landlocked countries in the Sahel access to the Atlantic Ocean, via Morocco. The initiative has already gained positive reactions from countries in the Sahel, including Mali, Burkina Faso, and Chad.

Plans for an official visit of Nigerien delegates to Morocco will be the first Nigerien visit since the launch of King Mohammed VI’s Atlantic initiative.

Mohamed al-Tayar, a Moroccan researcher in security and strategic studies stated that “Morocco proved that it is a trustworthy partner,” to countries in the Sahel, while Algerian diplomacy has failed to build relationships with the new leaderships in Niger and Mali.

Algeria fears that Rabat’s close relations with Niamey will ice the country out, deepening the already existing political and diplomatic tensions between Niger and Algeria.

Algeria’s relationship with Niger was strained after Algeria put pressure on the Niamey government for immediate answers, regarding a gas pipeline project. Further tensions between the countries surfaced as Niamey denied the news that Niger had accepted President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s mediation offer in October 2023 in its political crisis.

Although Algeria promised to invest $442 million into energy projects for Niger, Mali, and Libya, observers have criticised that the country is late to recognise the power of investments in building relationships.

Neither Mali nor Niger are prepared to take up Algeria’s offer at the expense of their economic relationship with Morocco, especially since the offer is not a guarantee.

Morocco and Niger’s relations have remained strong, possibly due to Niger’s ignorance towards the Algerian backed Polisario Front – a separatist group who desire independence of the Western Sahara from Moroccan occupation – or perhaps because Niger was one of the few initial supporters in Morocco’s return to the African Union in 2017, after a 33 year absence.



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