On Sunday, Algeria summoned its ambassador to Morocco for consultations “immediately”, according to a statement by the Algerian Foreign Ministry, while analysts attributed this to the statements of the Moroccan ambassador to the United Nations, Omar Hilal, during the meeting of the Non-Aligned Countries on July 13-14.
Algeria attributed the decision to “the need for the Kingdom of Morocco to clarify its final position on the extremely dangerous situation resulting from the rejected statements of its ambassador in New York,” according to a statement by the Algerian Foreign Ministry, which was reported by Al-Nahar TV, which is close to the authority.
Morocco’s ambassador to the United Nations angers Algeria
The decision comes one day after it demanded clarification from the Moroccan authorities regarding what it described as “aggressive statements” by the Rabat ambassador to the United Nations, expressly declaring support for a separatist movement, in reference to the “movement for the independence of the tribes.”
In the Algerian Foreign Ministry’s statement, “Due to the absence of any positive and appropriate response from the Moroccan side, it was decided today to summon the Algerian ambassador in Rabat, immediately, for consultations.”
It also stressed that it “does not rule out taking other measures, depending on the development of this case.”
Diplomatic conflict between Algeria and Morocco
While the diplomatic conflict between Algeria and Morocco is still escalating, the two countries’ media outlets have published articles supporting the official position, and justifying the authority’s positions before domestic public opinion regarding the current tension.
During the meeting of the Non-Aligned Countries on July 13 and 14, the Moroccan ambassador to the United Nations, Omar Hilal, called for the “independence of the Kabyle Prime Time Zone” in Algeria, which angered Algeria, which demanded Rabat for “clarifications.”
It is noteworthy that Algeria has classified the “Kabylie Secession Movement”, known for its acronym “MAC”, on its list of terrorist organizations.
Read also: An Algerian politician criticizes an article published by the Army of Algeria magazine accusing Morocco of treason and increasing tension between the two countries
This movement is led by the Berber activist, Farhat Mhenni, and is based in the French capital, Paris.
This movement was founded in the wake of what is known as the “Berber Spring” in 2001, and the Algerian authorities accuse it of being a “separatist and racist movement.”
While Al-Shorouk daily newspaper compared Algeria’s reaction to the Moroccan move with a “flood of anger”, the Moroccan newspaper, Hespress, described the Algerian “anger” as “rabies.”
This media rivalry comes at a time when press freedom in the two countries is witnessing a noticeable decline, while journalists are still suffering from judicial prosecutions because of their positions.
In Algeria, journalists are imprisoned for their support of the popular movement, while Moroccan media professionals are being tried on various charges “because of their critical opinions,” according to Agence France-Presse.
The agency said in a report on Sunday that “the limited spaces for press freedom are getting narrower in Morocco and Algeria.”
The agency said that journalists in the two countries “suffered in recent months from judicial restrictions that included speedy trials and severe penalties in Morocco and Algeria, the two enemy brothers who are working to stifle the limited space for freedom of expression, according to activists and human rights organizations.”
Christophe Deloire, Director-General of Reporters Without Borders, estimates that the two countries are governed by “two unstable regimes that behave poorly and are suddenly locked in a downward spiral” of repression.
Agence France-Presse cited examples of trials against Algerian and Moroccan journalists, and pointed to the follow-ups against Khaled Drarni, an Algerian journalist, who supports the movement, and his colleague from the south, Rabah Karach, and each of Suleiman Raissouni and Omar Radi, Moroccan journalists.
The five-year prison sentence against Raissouni raised Washington’s concern, according to US State Department spokesman, Ned Price, while Reporters Without Borders described the Algerian media scene as “restricted by freedom-depriving laws.”
Moroccan political analyst Khaled Al-Shayat says that the government media in Morocco did not address Rabat’s “position” on the separation of the Algerian Kabylie region.
Al-Shayat justified the government press’s failure to address what was stated by Omar Hilal by saying that what the ambassador presented was “just a perception and does not represent Morocco’s official position.”
In an interview with Al-Hurra, he said that what was said by Morocco’s representative to the United Nations, Omar Hilal, “is not an official position, but rather a directive to Algeria that it should not hit its neighbors with stones if its house is made of glass.”
He said that this is not the official position of the state, “although there is a movement in Algeria that has some of the elements required by international law with regard to self-determination.”
The media professor at the University of Algiers, Belkacemi Othman, believes that the media in Algeria, as in Morocco, is “on demand.” He said that the two countries’ rankings in the press freedom index “may justify this media rivalry” stemming from the political dispute between Algeria and Rabat.
On the impact of media campaigns on public opinion in the two countries, Belkacemi said that the two peoples have become differentiating between media and propaganda, and his evidence is that the majority of them are not drawn into the conflict that the media are trying to transfer to social networking sites through their pages there.
It is noteworthy that activists launched a campaign on social media, calling for the need to “dissociate the two peoples from the conflicts between the Moroccan and Algerian regimes.”
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