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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05ALGIERS1251 2005-06-20 18:55:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Algiers
Cable title:  

ALGERIAN CRITICISM OF MOROCCO SHARPENS

Tags:   PREL PBTS PHUM AG MO WI 
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1. (C) While there has still been no official public
response to Morocco's cancellation of the June 21-22 Prime
Ministers' meeting in Rabat, an unidentified diplomatic
source, clearly reflecting GOA views, has sharpened Algerian
criticism of Morocco's move. The official, whom we believe
was Minister-Delegate Messahel, termed the cancellation
"grave and irresponsible," said Morocco alone bore
responsibility for the current impasse, and accused Morocco
of turning differences over the Western Sahara into a
bilateral issue. On the other hand, it is perhaps noteworthy
that the official, in strongly reaffirming the Sahrawi right
to self-determination, did not provocatively refer to the
"right of independence." Reference was also pointedly made
to the letter from 25 U.S. members of Congress to the
Secretary urging a referendum on self-determination.

SIPDIS



2. (C) The Algerian press has also added fuel to the
rhetorical fire, accusing the King of using Algeria as a
scapegoat for problems at home and noting growing republican
sentiment in Morocco. Meanwhile, former FM and current
Minister of State Belkhadem, speaking as the FLN leader and
making clear he could not speak for Foreign Minister
Bedjaoui, publicly criticized for the second time the
cancellation decision. For a country that remembers the
French invasion of Algeria in 1830 was triggered by an insult
to the French consul, the sense of GOA anger and injured
pride here over Morocco's perceived public insult to
Algeria's prime minister is real. While there is still a
measure of restraint in the GOA reaction -- witness the
deliberate and continued absence of an official public
reaction -- it will take a while for the anger to subside.
In the meantime, and given Rabat's own grievances, we seem
headed for some rough sledding in the region in the near
term. (End summary and comment)

UNIDENTIFIED DIPLOMATIC SOURCES BLAME MOROCCO...


--------------------------

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3. (U) In the June 20 government daily El-Moudjahid, an
unidentified diplomatic source, clearly reflecting official
views, sharpened GOA criticism of Morocco's cancellation of
the June 21-22 meeting of the Algerian and Moroccan Prime
Ministers. Terming the Moroccan action "grave and
irresponsible," the official said Algeria has "always
affirmed its readiness" to develop its relations with Morocco
"at all levels," and Rabat "alone bears" responsibility of
the "current impasse." Referring to the Moroccan decision,
the official continued: "(The Moroccan communiqu contains)
contradictions in fact and (makes) a clear and deliberate
distortion of reality in pretending that the Algerian policy
with respect to Morocco is incoherent." On the prospects for
reconciliation, the source said: "The Moroccan Government,
in an incomprehensible and entirely clumsy manner, just
slammed the brakes on the rapprochement much hoped for by our
two peoples," adding that Morocco's media campaign waged
against Algeria was "heinous."



4. (U) On the nexus between the Western Sahara and
Algerian-Moroccan relations, the source commented: "We
(Algerians) have always made known to our Moroccan brothers,
and they know full well, (that) the bilateral relations
between our two countries have nothing to do with the issue
of the Western Sahara....If there is one iron-clad principle
of Algerian foreign policy, it is the respect for
international law" and "the right of peoples to determine
their own self-destiny," explained the source in defending
the Algerian position on the Western Sahara. Noting that
Algeria had "paid a heavy price for its independence" from
France, the Algerian source made clear that "Algeria would
not sit still in the face of injustice; it would instead
support the right of peoples to self-determination, (as it
had done in opposing Indonesian control of East Timor), a
principle embodied in the U.N. Charter." The official also
reaffirmed Algeria's consistent support for the Arab Maghreb
Union and pointedly made reference to the letter from 25 U.S.
members of Congress to the Secretary urging a referendum on
self-determination.

... AND THE PRESS OBLIGES WITH CRITICISM OF THE KING


--------------------------



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5. (U) Algerian newspapers, taking their cue from the GOA,
also blamed Morocco for the deadlock and took aim at the
Moroccan monarchy. "The first disturbing thing for the King
of Morocco is that the Algeria of 2005 is not the Algeria of
1991," opined La Nouvelle Republique in an editorial
entitled, "What is Mohammed VI afraid of?" Continuing, the
newspaper comments, "(Algerian) terrorism has fundamentally
decreased and the price of oil has contributed to Algeria's
very good financial health." In Morocco, however, "Mohammed
VI has been unable to keep his promises of
(democratization)." The Moroccan textile industry is in
crisis, external debt is increasing, and 2005 has been a dark
year for Algerian agriculture, notes the French-language
daily.



6. (U) Quoting unnamed Algerian officials, the
French-language daily Liberte said Morocco was responsible
for the crisis. "Algeria is composed, confident in itself,
and has absolutely nothing to regret. It does not intend to
engage Morocco in a debate whose primary objective ... is to
bilateralize the issue of the Western Sahara." To the
question, "Who hides behind the Moroccan agitation?" these
same sources answer: "the future of the monarchy."



7. (U) The lead headline in the Arabic-language daily
Echourouk El-Youmi was, "Morocco plays with fire." The
French-language daily Le Quotidien d'Oran carried a quote
from Abdelaziz Belkhadem, State Minister and Personal
Representative of the President (who also was the previous
Foreign Minister and is the current head of the FLN, the
largest party in the presidential coalition), characterizing
as "entirely abnormal" the unilateral Moroccan decision to
cancel a bilateral visit. Asked for the official reaction of
the Algerian Government, Belkhadem said he could not speak
for Foreign Minister Bedjaoui. (Note: Neither the Foreign
Minister nor the Prime Minister has "officially" reacted to
the cancellation of the meeting.)

ERDMAN