Tunisia, Algeria and Libya will discuss a new Maghreb bloc without Morocco

There “first consultative meeting” with a view to the possible formation of a new Maghrebi bloc will be held next Monday in Tunis. Organized by Tunisian President Kais Saied, it will bring together Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and the president of the Libyan presidential council Mohamed al-Menfi. For them, it is a question of laying the foundations of a future regional cooperation organization.

The principle of “a Maghreb tripartite meeting”, organized every three months, was decided by the three leaders meeting on the sidelines of a summit on gas in Algiers at the beginning of March. In a press release, the three countries stressed “the need to unify and intensify efforts to meet economic and security challenges, in the service of the interests” of their people.

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For his part, the head of Algerian diplomacy Ahmed Attaf defended these initiatives as intended to fill a void, while the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), created 35 years ago, is “in a coma” that she “has no activity”.

The UMA was founded in Marrakech in 1989 with the ambition of strengthening political and economic ties between Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Tunisia and Libya on the model of the European Community, future European Union. After a promising start, recurring tensions between Rabat and Algiers caused an impasse and the last summit between leaders dates back to 1994.

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Given this “first consultative meeting between the leaders of the three sister countries” according to an official press release, the future Maghreb bloc will have two absentees in relation to the UMA: Mauritania and Morocco were not invited.

Moroccan media like Hespress and Le360 accused Algeria of wanting to “form a Maghreb alliance against Morocco” its great regional rival, and denounced “a maneuver intended to make people believe that Algeria is not isolated in its neighborhood” . Still according to Le360, the Algerian president encountered a refusal at the beginning of March from his Mauritanian counterpart Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani, who categorically refused to participate in such an initiative without Morocco.

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Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, for his part, assured during a television interview in early April that “this bloc is not directed against any other state” and “the door is open to the countries of the region” and “to our neighbors of the West” i.e. Morocco.

One of the most conflicting issues between Morocco and Algeria is that of Western Sahara. This territory, rich in mineral resources and fish-rich waters, is controlled mainly by Morocco but claimed by the Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front, supported by Algeria. The UN considers it a “non-self-governing territory”.

This article is originally published on nouvelles-dujour.com

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