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Algeria cuts ties with Morocco after litany of provocations

Algeria's Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra holds a press conference in the capital, Algiers, on August 24, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Algeria has severed diplomatic relations with its neighbor Morocco in a sudden move that Rabat has decried as "unjustified."

Algeria's Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra announced the immediate cessation of relations with Morocco on Tuesday.

"Algeria has decided to cut diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Morocco from today," Lamamra announced during a press conference. "History has shown… Morocco has never stopped carrying out hostile actions against Algeria."

He accused Morocco's leaders of "responsibility for repeated crises" and behavior that has "led to conflict instead of integration" in the region. The foreign minister also accused Morocco of leading "a media war… against Algeria, its people, and its leaders."

Lamamra said that consular assistance to the citizens of the two countries would not be affected by the decision.

In response to the abrupt rupture, Morocco's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Algiers' move had been "completely unjustified" but "expected, given the logic of escalation seen in recent weeks." He said the decision to sever ties was based on "false, even absurd pretexts."

The North African rivals, which have had strained relations for decades over the flashpoint disputed region of Western Sahara, continue to accuse one another of backing opposition movements as proxies. Morocco's normalization of its relations with the Israeli regime in December last year triggered fresh tensions between Rabat and Algiers.

Lamamra said the Israeli regime was engaging in "senseless accusations and veiled threats" against Algeria. Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid said earlier this month that the regime in Tel Aviv "worries about the role played by Algeria in the region."

Last week, Algeria said Morocco was complicit with Israel in sparking deadly forest fires that ravaged the Algerian north.

The forest fires, which broke out early this month, burned tens of thousands of hectares of forest and killed at least 90 people, including more than 30 soldiers.

Algerian said 22 people had been arrested in connection with the fires, which it said were of "criminal" origin.

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