By John Ikani
Algeria has closed its airspace to all Moroccan civil and military aircrafts, the Algerian Presidency has said.
The move was announced “in view of the continued provocations and hostile practices on the Moroccan side,” according to the statement.
This comes less than a month after Algeria cut diplomatic relations with Morocco.
The decision was arrived at after a meeting of the High Security Council chaired by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
The move will only affect 15 weekly flights, which link Morocco with Tunisia, Turkey and Egypt, a source at Royal Air Maroc (RAM) is quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.
The source described the impact on RAM as “insignificant” and said the relevant flights could reroute over the Mediterranean.
What you should know
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.