Algeria has closed its airspace to longstanding regional rival Morocco following increased diplomatic enmity.
The airspace closure announced on Wednesday, 22 September affects all Moroccan civil and military aircraft, and comes barely a month after it cut diplomatic relations with Rabat.
The Algerian presidential statement noted that the decision to close the airspace came “in view of the continued provocations and hostile practices on the Moroccan side”, said in a statement.
Any aircraft carrying a Moroccan registration number will no longer be allowed to use Algerian airspace.
The breakdown of diplomatic relations between Algeria and Morocco in August is the product of a long history of tension, and the borders between both north African countries have been closed since 1994.
The diplomatic relationship between Algiers and Rabat turned sour last year due to the ownership of Western Sahara which Morocco claims as its own, but the territory’s sovereignty has been disputed by the Polisario Front, an Algeria-backed independence movement.
Mid-2020, Polisario said it was resuming armed struggle after decades of a ceasefire devised by the United States.
The US acknowledges Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara in return for Rabat boosting ties with Israel, a state Algeria does not recognize.
Also in August, Algeria cut off diplomatic ties with Morocco, citing the alleged support for MAK, a Kabylie separatist group that the Algerian government has labeled a terrorist organization.
Asides from closing its airspace to Moroccan aircraft, Algeria has indicated it would not renew a gas supply contract, and that it will divert gas exports from a pipeline running through Morocco, which was due to be renewed later this year.
With this latest diplomatic spat, it appears that Algeria still intends to escalate tensions further. “The adoption of additional measures cannot be ruled out,” Amar Belani, the Foreign Ministry official responsible for Maghreb countries told foreign media.