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Algerian Popular Movement launches initiative to restore relations with Morocco

Image of migrants left stranded along the Algerian-Moroccan border [Wise‏/Twitter]
The Algerian-Moroccan border [Wise‏/Twitter]

It seems that the ongoing revolutionary situation in Algeria is affecting all parts of life. However, in spite of this, Algerians are still trying to overcome problems of the past, including the tension with Morocco, which has been ongoing for more than two decades.

Algeria's victory in the Africa Cup of Nations of 2019, has prompted Algerian intellectuals to launch an initiative to overcome the freezing official relations between the two countries.

Bilateral celebrations at the borders confirmed that there is no conflict between the two brotherly peoples to renew hopes of restoring official ties between the two countries. The initiative thus came in an attempt to convey these aspirations to officials of both countries.

According to a petition, the signatories to the initiative said that the ongoing popular movement in Algeria had awakened the will of the signatories to push for new relations.

The Moroccan-Algerian borders have been closed since 1994, amid political conflicts between the two countries, most notably the file of Western Sahara, over which Rabat is holding on to its sovereignty, while Algeria is supporting the Polisario Front, which demands a referendum on independence.

Sporting culture

Few days before the launch of the initiative, the Moroccan-Algerian borders have witnessed a unique situation. Thousands of Moroccans flowed to the borders after the winning of the Algerian national football team and expressed their feelings of joy.

The Algerian writer and one of the signatories to the initiative, Said Hadef, stressed that "the idea came in the context of popular appeals that had previously called for the opening of the borders in various occasions."

He added that it also comes as "the culmination of recent calls by Algerian civil society actors, to establish an Algerian-Moroccan relationship open to creative co-operation."

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Dr. Khaled Chiat, Professor of International Relations and International Law at the University of Mohamed I, Oujda, northeast of Morocco, said that "the Algerian intellectuals' call is in line with the liberal aspirations of the popular movement, and aims at strengthening communication between the Maghreb peoples who suffer from a unique situation of the closure of the land borders between Morocco and Algeria."

Chiat described the initiative as "normal amid the suffocating economic situation the region is witnessing and the state of incompatibility with popular aspirations."

A glimmer of hope

"The intellectual and the free journalist is the closest person to the nation's concerns and aspirations. The future of the region depends on the integrationist approach away from division and separation, which will only usher in total devastation and deepen the economic and social crises," Chiat considered.

Concerning the future of the initiative launched by intellectuals and journalists in Algeria, Said Hadef said that according to him, "the problem is caused by the elite's failure and inaction in carrying out its tasks."

Hadef pointed out that "the weakness of the political class and its mismanagement of political affairs in the two countries is a product of the shallowness of the role of the cultural elite, its ignorance of the local and regional environment, and fear of ghosts that inhabit their collective imagination."

"But the new generation of the two countries will generate a liberal and more pragmatic elite, which will restore the relations between the two countries to normal," added Hadef.

Sport challenges official apathy

Last month, dozens of Moroccans and Algerians celebrated on the borders between the two countries, in several occasions, whenever the Algerian national team won their matches in the continental championship in Egypt.

The celebrations peaked after the Algerian national football team won the title.

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At the start of the championship, the public of the two countries launched a virtual campaign on social media websites, called "KhawaKhawa" (brothers), which found its way in reality, on the Egyptian stadiums and cities, which hosted the championship from 21 June until 19 July.

The idea of ​​the campaign is the Algeria fans' support of the Moroccan national team, and their presence in the stadiums hosting the "Atlas Lions", and vice versa for the Moroccan fans, which must be present in the stadiums that will host the matches of "Desert Foxes".

The "KhawaKhawa" hashtag had topped the list of most trending hashtags in the leading sports pages in both countries, and the idea had been widely spread.

The hashtag also drew the attention of media outlets in Morocco, Algeria, and all Arab countries, in spontaneous popular movements that aspire to reach officials.

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