Algeria, Morocco will open borders, after 18 years, to fight Al Qaida

Special to

CAIRO — Algeria and Morocco have been preparing to open their
borders after nearly 20 years of tension.

Officials said Algeria and Morocco have agreed in principle to open
their borders as part of renewed security cooperation. They said Morocco,
after more than a decade of efforts, has persuaded Algeria to conduct
security cooperation in their joint battle against Al Qaida.

A "warming of relations" is seen leading to the re-opening of the Algiera-Morocco border. /AFP/Farouk Batiche

“Things are moving now in an excellent manner — on the basis of mutual visits and meetings on both sides — pointing to a warming of relations,” Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia said. “Therefore, the borders must be open.”

In a March 14 interview with the Algerian newspaper El Khabar, Ouyahia did not disclose a timetable for open borders. But other officials said they expected the two countries to enable the passage of people and goods over the next few months.

In 1994, Algeria, alleging that the North African kingdom was promoting insurgency strikes, closed its border with Morocco. In response, Algeria also intensified support to the Polisario movement to challenge Morocco’s control of disputed Western Sahara.

Diplomats said the Algerian-Moroccan security cooperation talks began in
late 2011 amid the revolts in such neighboring states as Egypt, Libya and
Tunisia. They said both countries agreed that Al Qaida could exploit the
unrest for renewed attacks.

“We are neighbors and we must live together,” Ouyahia said. “We are
neighbors and we share much in common — language, religion and traditions.”

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