Among the several accusations leveled by certain anti-Morocco elements of the Algerian military establishment, the allegation of Morocco’s support of violent Armed Groups such as the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is the most appalling.
Faced with a recent surge in political violence that accumulated with the June 17 bomb attack that left 18 dead, the Algerian authorities are recycling old stories about Morocco’s supposed role in supporting such terrible acts. This latest attack was ever more alarming since it took place in an area that was reported by the Algerian Army as being safe and “cleansed”. The Wilaya of Bordj Bou Arreridj, where that attack took place, is located in the center of the country signaling that AQIM is active in several regions and can strike at will and ease simultaneously and lethally through out the Algerian heartland.
Algeria has been plagued with political violence since 1990 and it starting to look as if the end of this bloody chapter is still elusive. In the last few months, AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb). has claimed responsibility for a number of high profile attacks in several countries in the Sahel region. With hits in Algeria, Mauritania, Niger, and especially Mali, AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) is more operational than ever.
It is not a coincidence that the recent surge of Armed Groups activities in Algeria came in the aftermath of the embarrassing Presidential election prolonging the reign of President Bouteflika for another term. The lack of political changes coupled with deteriorating socio-economic conditions of the average Algerian is bound to boost recruitment for AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) among sections of disillusioned the Algerian population.
All evidence points to the homegrown nature of the AQIM and its likes. Contemporary armed political violence in North Africa was born and raised in Algeria. There is not a shred of credible evidence of foreign involvement of any power in the on going blood bath in Algeria. Attempts to drag Morocco into this quagmire are nothing but a desperate attempt by certain Algerian Generals to explain the failure of the Algerian state to secure the country.
The ineptitude of the Algerian security forces to protect its citizen is no accident; it is a conspiracy against the Algerian people to keep the Algerian Military relevant and “needed” to protect the people. The electoral platform used by the Military junta backed President Bouteflika during his campaign was: “Algerians need Bouteflika to keep peace and order”.
Back in December of last year, the Algerian press published statement supposedly made by a certain Abdelhak Layada , the founder of Armed Islamic Group” (GIA), alleging that the late King Hassan II has offered Morocco’s help and support to his group as a retaliation of Algeria’s support of the Polisario separatist militia. Omitted in the reporting of this story is the fact that Layada was arrested in Morocco by Moroccan security forces and handed, on orders from Hassan II, to the ungrateful Algerian authorities. Why would Moroccans return Layada to the Algerians if Rabat was trying to recruit him? It does not make any sense!
In fact, the late King Hassan II took strides to avoid any Moroccan involvement in the civil war that was raging in Algeria during the 1990’s. Even tough the FIS leadership was more sympathetic to Morocco’s attempts to peacefully resolve the Western Sahara conflict; Rabat never fully extended the welcoming mat to the FIS leadership. Realizing that a Moroccan overture toward FIS would be used by the Algerian Army to turn the average Algerian against Morocco, King Hassan II kept it distance from the Algerian chaos.
The Moroccan authorities have their hands full with few homegrown violent groups that are aiming to destabilize the Kingdom. Morocco is facing a similar danger as Algeria but with much lower intensity. Morocco’s success to fend off violent attacks has to do with luck and vigilance. Unlike the neighbors to the east, Morocco is fully engaged to secure its citizens. As long as some element in the Algerian Army are financially “benefiting” from the chaos and the continued attacks, innocent Algerian will keep paying the price.
Algeria’s resolve to fight AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) is in question, and accusing Morocco to be behind a purely internal crisis should not distract observers from the facts. The United States and the European Union have heavily invested in securing the Algerian Sahara and the Sahel region, making the accusation against Morocco, an ally to both, even more absurd and desperate.
Algerian accusations of Morocco’s involvement in the Algerian violence are careless, nevertheless they must be answered.