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The Financial Express

Algeria closes airspace to Moroccan planes as dispute deepens

| Updated: October 09, 2021 18:48:07


People standing near a border post on the Algerian side of the Morocco-Algeria border in the north east of Morocco –Reuters file photo People standing near a border post on the Algerian side of the Morocco-Algeria border in the north east of Morocco –Reuters file photo

Algeria announced the closure of its airspace to all Moroccan civil and military aircraft on Wednesday, less than a month after it cut diplomatic relations with the Kingdom.

The supreme security council of Algeria took the decision on Wednesday "in view of the continued provocations and hostile practices on the Moroccan side", reports Reuters citing a statement issued by the Algerian government.

The closure also includes any aircraft carrying a Moroccan registration number, the presidency said after a meeting of the council.

There was no immediate Moroccan official response. A source at Royal Air Maroc said the closure would only affect 15 flights weekly linking Morocco with Tunisia, Turkey and Egypt.

The source described the closure as insignificant and said the relevant flights could reroute over the Mediterranean.

The airline gave no official comment on the Algerian decision.

Algeria late last month decided to cut diplomatic ties with Morocco, citing "hostile actions" from the Kingdom, referring mainly to comments made by Morocco's envoy in New York in favor of the self-determination of the Kabylie region in Algeria.

Algiers also accused Rabat of backing MAK, a separatist group that the government has declared a terrorist organisation. Authorities blame the group for devastating wildfires, mainly in Kabylie, that killed at least 65 people. MAK has denied the accusations.

Morocco said in response that Algeria was unjustified in cutting ties and its arguments were "fallacious and even absurd."

The border between Morocco and Algeria has been closed since 1994 and Algeria has indicated it will divert gas exports from a pipeline running through Morocco, which was due to be renewed later this year.

Relations have deteriorated since last year when the Western Sahara issue flared up after years of comparative quiet. Morocco sees Western Sahara as its own, but the territory's sovereignty has been disputed by the Polisario Front, an Algeria-backed independence movement.

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