Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra held a press conference on Tuesday to announce that his country has suspended diplomatic relations with Morocco because of its “hostile actions”, a week after Algeria said it would review its relations with neighboring countries.
The measure comes after Algeria last week said it would review its relations with Morocco after accusing it of complicity in deadly forest fires that ravaged the north of the country.
“Algeria has decided to suspend diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Morocco as of today,” the minister told a news conference.
“History has shown that the Kingdom of Morocco has never stopped carrying out hostile acts against Algeria,” Lamamra added.
The forest fires in Algeria, which broke out on August 9 in the middle of a blowing heat wave, burned tens of thousands of hectares of forest and killed at least 90 people, including more than 30 soldiers.
Algerian authorities have pointed the finger at the fires against the independence movement in the mainly Berber region of Kabylie, which stretches along the Mediterranean coast east of the capital Algiers.
Authorities have also accused the Kabylie Self-Determination Movement (MAK) of involvement in the lynching of a man falsely accused of arson, an incident that provoked outrage.
Algeria last week accused Morocco of supporting the MAK, which it classifies as a “terrorist organization”.
“The uninterrupted hostilities that Morocco has carried out against Algeria have called for a review of relations between the two countries,” it said in a statement from the presidency last week.
It also said there would be an “intensification of security controls at the western borders” with Morocco.
The border between Algeria and Morocco has been closed since 1994.
Algeria’s foreign minister on Tuesday also accused Morocco’s leaders of “responsibility for repeated crises” and behavior that has “led to conflict instead of integration” in North Africa.
Relations between Algiers and Rabat have been tough in recent decades, especially over the hotspot issue of disputed Western Sahara. Morocco considers the former Spanish colony to be an integral part of its empire, but Algeria has backed the Polisario movement seeking independence there.
Last month, Algeria recalled its ambassador to Morocco for consultation after Morocco’s envoy to the UN, Omar Hilale, expressed support for self-determination for the Kabylie region.
At the time, Algeria’s Foreign Ministry said that Morocco “publicly and explicitly supports an alleged right to self-determination for the Kabylie people”.