Tunisia holds Maghreb union meeting without Morocco or Mauritania

Tunisia holds Maghreb union meeting without Morocco or Mauritania
Neither Morocco nor Mauritania were invited to this event, which suggests that a Maghreb union organisation could be formed without these two states.
2 min read
22 April, 2024
Algeria says the new union is set to fill a void after the failure of the Maghreb Arab Union (UMA) . [Getty]

Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya are set to meet on Monday to discuss potentially launching a new Maghreb union. Yet, Morocco and Mauritania are absent from the guest list as tensions and diplomatic rivalries shape the Maghreb landscape.

"Tunisian President Kais Saied has invited his Algerian counterpart Abdelmajid Tebboune and Libyan Presidential Council President Mohamed al-Menfi to participate Monday in "a first consultative meeting among the leaders of the three brotherly countries," reads an official statement published by the Tunis Presidency on 20 April.

When the three leaders met on the sidelines of a gas summit in Algiers last month, they decided on the principle of "a tripartite Maghreb meeting" held every three months.

In a statement, the three countries emphasised "the need to unify and intensify efforts to address economic and security challenges, in the service of the interests" of their peoples.

Neither Morocco nor Mauritania was invited to this event, which suggests the formation of a Maghreb entity without the two states.

Some Moroccan media outlets have speculated that Algeria wants to "form a Maghreb alliance against Morocco," its major regional rival, and denounced a "manoeuvre" to ostracise Morocco in the region.

However, Algerian President Tebboune assured in a television interview in early April that "this bloc is not directed against any other state" and that "the door is open to countries in the region" and "to our Western neighbours" (Morocco).

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Algeria says the new union is set to fill "a void" after the failure of the Maghreb Arab Union (UMA) - now an abandoned building in Rabat.

Founded in Marrakech in 1989, the union had promising beginnings, but recurrent tensions between Rabat and Algiers led to a deadlock. The last summit between the UMA's leaders was in 1994.

The Western Sahara remains the core of the long-standing dispute between Morocco and Algeria.

This territory, rich in mineral resources, is mainly controlled by Morocco but claimed by the separatist movement of the Polisario Front, supported by Algeria. The UN endorses neither party's claims.

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Recent 'Morocco-friendly' statements from Algeria's officials have instilled hope of potential reconciliation between the arch-enemies. Still, a recent tantrum from Algiers over a Moroccan map on a football jersey has dashed all hope.

On Friday, 19 April, Algerian customs officers confiscated Morocco's Berkane team's shirts because they carried a map of Morocco that included the disputed Western Sahara. The team, set to play an African Confederation Cup match between USM Alger, left Algiers and refused to play the game without their jerseys.

The two countries will take the case to "the International Court of Sport."